Offset Banking in New Zealand: towards sustainable development, with insight from international models
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Forestry Science
Biodiversity loss is an important issue for New Zealand: for the domestic environment, economy and society, but also for New Zealand as a member of the international community. Biodiversity offset banking is making an important contribution to addressing such issues in a number of countries around the world. Developing the ability to participate and take advantage of possible benefits requires comprehensively understanding both the fundamental principles and varying concepts, and supports the analysis necessary for New Zealand to progress towards offset banking. New Zealand can learn much from observing and investigating overseas models and use them as valuable templates. California and New South Wales provide examples of potential policies and frameworks (both economic and social) to establish and operate successful offset banking systems.
Discussions of offset banking, both in theory and practice, frequently concern the potential failings of the system. These issues can be conceptualised as various forms of risk. Considering offset banking as sustainable development, this thesis addresses such risks to reflect the tripartite biological, financial and social framework of sustainable development. Biologically, risk is in the potential biodiversity outcomes are inadequate, unexpected or undesirable. Scientific uncertainty underlies this, both inherently and from the limits of current scientific disciplines. Through expanding scientific knowledge and experience, measures for reducing or accommodating the risk of uncertainty are emerging. Financial risk represents concerns that individual banks may lack the monetary support to achieve the specific biodiversity conservation required for the site. Also the system of interacting banks, bankers and traders may fail to produce financial outcomes that support effective and efficient biodiversity conservation over the breath of the scheme. Social risk lies in the potential that societies’ individuals conduct themselves in ways that conflict with achieving biodiversity conservation through malfeasance or negligence. Additionally, there is social risk that an offset banking system fails to respond appropriately to broader society and human, such as equity and intergenerational justice.
Here, deliberating these risks is primary to appreciating how design elements and emergent properties minimize risks. Given comprehensive understanding, components of a system can be designed and allow informed policy, regulations and rules to offer successful risk mitigation. For this reason policy, rules and regulations observed within California and New South Wales helps to discuss this and establish guidance for New Zealand offset banking design to draw upon. Californian systems are achieving promising conservation and continued growth; New South Wales’ Biobanking scheme is robustly designed and in its early stages. Each contrasts in design and carries varying criticisms. California has been observed as potentially shortcoming biologically, whereas New South Wales Biobanking has been questioned based on the strength and character of its economic underpinnings. In addition to these considerations, New Zealand has significant societal perspectives to incorporate given current popular, socio-democratic conservation modus operandi.
Identifying the three forms of risk present highlights the importance of allocating appropriate consideration and expertise to the biological, economic and social components of offset banking. Successful sustainable development, biodiversity conservation and risk mitigation may be achieved through designing mechanisms, regulations and governing policy for offset banking. New Zealand may therefore expand the success and application of current offsetting by taking guidance from examples and analysis presented here.