Mixed report for Kiwis on progress
By REBECCA PALMER - The Dominion Post
Last updated 05:00 31/07/2009

We are better educated, better at recycling, and more productive.

But only one in seven of us has a "healthy lifestyle", less of our electricity comes from renewable sources, and our native species have less room to move.

A new study from Statistics New Zealand gives a mixed report card on the country's sustainability, bringing together official data from the past 20 years to measure not only environmental progress but social and economic.

The report defines sustainable development as development that meets present needs without threatening those of future generations.

It says there is no definitive answer to the question whether New Zealand is progressing to or away from sustainable development.

Instead, it measures the country's performance against a set of 85 sustainability targets.

Government statistician Geoff Bascand said the report showed our living standards had improved in the past 20 years and income levels had climbed.

But the increased wealth had not been shared evenly the gap between those on high incomes and low-income earners had widened.

The resources available to future generations showed "mixed results", he said.

While total net greenhouse gas emissions had increased, they had decreased in relation to the country's economic activity.

The proportion of Maori speakers of te reo Maori "an aspect of culture which is unique to New Zealand" had decreased slightly, he said.

Among the new measures used is one that combines five lifestyle behaviours to show that only one in seven Kiwis has a "healthy lifestyle".

Those behaviours are non-smoking, safe drinking, getting enough physical activity, adequate fruit and vegetable intake, and maintaining a healthy weight.

The report finds the two healthy behaviours people are least likely to follow are eating five or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day, and getting enough exercise.

Men are less likely to drink alcohol safely or eat enough fruit and veges, and women are less likely to do enough exercise.

From here.