Case studies highlight need for speed on climate change adaptation
Local Government New Zealand’s new report on three communities’ fight against the impacts of climate change illustrates how challenging it is for councils grapple with the issue of adaptation without the policy tools and national guidance they need to do the job.
The case studies focus on three areas affected by climate change; the Ruawai Flats of Kaipara, South New Brighton and Southshore in Christchurch, and South Dunedin. Although all three case studies focus on the issue of coastal inundation, each of the three communities and their respective councils are at different stages of their climate change adaptation planning.
However, a common theme was that the task of engaging with affected communities on the range of tough choices ahead of them was made more challenging by the lack of any material policy direction, resourcing, or guidance from central government.
Councils typically work within tight policy frameworks provided by central government. However, on the national issue of climate change adaptation, they are working in a policy vacuum, leaving each community to pave its own way in dealing with a national issue.
The case studies conclude with a number of recommendations that would assist central government with closing the gulf between the concerns of communities and councils, and their policy.