We have a role in ensuring Aotearoa New Zealand meets its international obligations under various environmental acts.
New Zealand has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, regulate negative impacts of chemicals, protect the ozone layer, and regulate the import and export of hazardous wastes.
We support New Zealand to meet its obligations by:
- providing technical and scientific advice on agreements
- implementing operational requirements of agreements
- deciding and granting import and export permits.
Our engagement with international networks
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
We participate in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) working groups and programmes in the chemicals area, covering a wide range of functions from pesticides to pollution release.
Heads of EPA Australia and New Zealand
We attend and contribute to the Heads of EPA Australia and New Zealand meetings and to the Chief Scientists’ Forum.
Environmental agreements we administer
Under our regulatory framework, we provide science and regulatory expertise on international agreements, working groups, and forums.
We have also co-authored and reviewed documents related to the Stockholm, Rotterdam, and Basel Conventions.
- Basel Convention
- Cartagena Protocol
- International Seabed Authority
- London Convention
- Minamata Convention on Mercury
- Montreal Protocol
- Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty
- Rotterdam Convention
- Stockholm Convention
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
- Waigani Convention
The Basel Convention regulates the import and export of hazardous wastes and household wastes (Basel wastes). It requires prior consent for the imports and exports of Basel wastes and exporting countries to ensure that the waste is managed in an environmentally sound manner.
We are responsible for helping implement the Basel Convention and its amendments in New Zealand. Permits are required before importing or exporting Basel chemicals.
The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty that aims to protect biological diversity and human health from the potential risks arising from the import and export of living modified organisms (LMOs), including genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
A key tool in implementing Cartagena protocol is the Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH), an online platform for exchanging information on LMOs, including GMOs.
As the national focal point for the BCH under the Cartagena Protocol, we advise on the operation of the clearing house, including its collaboration with other United Nations and international programmes.
The International Seabed Authority, established under the United Nations Convention, develops an international regulatory framework for the exploitation of seabed minerals in the high seas.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has lead responsibility for negotiating parts of this treaty on behalf of New Zealand. We assess applications for the types of activities undertaken within the remit of this agreement and provide technical advice to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The London Convention aims to prevent and control all sources of marine pollution by regulating dumping of waste materials into the sea.
We regulate the obligations in the exclusive economic zone and the extended continental shelf, and Maritime New Zealand regulates these obligations for New Zealand ships on the high seas.
An Imports and Exports Order under the Imports and Exports (Restrictions) Act 1988 requires permits for imports and exports of mercury. There are also bans on certain products containing mercury.
We administer the permitting system under the Imports and Exports (Restrictions) Act 1988 and Waste Minimisation Act 2008.
We administer the permitting systems for importing and exporting of ozone-depleting substances, and for enforcement under the Ozone Layer Protection Act 1996 and regulations. We provide expertise at meetings for the Montreal Protocol.
New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is responsible for permitting any New Zealand activity in Antarctica, and ensuring New Zealand meets the environmental obligations under the Protocol.
We provide advice to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on environmental impact assessments for activities in Antarctica before it decides any permit applications.
We sit on the technical committee (the Chemicals Review Committee) that reviews whether chemicals should be listed in the Convention.
We chair the Persistent Organics Pollutants Review Committee of the Stockholm Convention.
Parties to the Convention need to develop a national implementation plan to manage persistent organic pollutants within their country. We provide technical advice and input to the Ministry for the Environment in preparing this plan.
- New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme supports and encourages global efforts to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by helping New Zealand meet its international obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. We administer the Emissions Trading Scheme and the New Zealand Emissions Trading Register.
- We contribute to discussions and exchange information about the development and implementation of the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) with other experts and subcommittee member countries at the United Nations Subcommittee of Experts on the GHS.
The Waigani Convention is a regional agreement under the Basel Convention to ensure that hazardous waste cannot travel from New Zealand or Australia to another Pacific country, or to Antarctica.
We collate data on New Zealand imports and exports of hazardous waste for reporting to the Basel Convention.