Wellington, New Zealand Combats Climate Change

The city council of Wellington, New Zealand has a new six-phase Community Climate Adaptation program to be run over the next six years. The program was created along with local communities which are at high risk of severe weather events, and includes a series of local adaptation plans based on their input. In creating the program, the council has taken into account lessons from the recent Auckland floods and Cyclone Gabrielle recovery efforts, along with the Government’s proposed Climate Change Adaptation Act.

“We live in a hilly, coastal city that is highly exposed to climate change impacts and has limited options to relocate infrastructure, businesses and homes. It’s vital that we enable evidence-based climate adaptation decisions to respond to the climate and ecological emergencies declared by the council,” said committee chair, Tamatha Paul.

 The program will begin with a flexible community engagement roadmap to help the most affected communities in the area to prepare for and adapt to the local impacts of climate change. It will also explore a regional partnership to ensure a consistent and collaborative approach to local adaptation planning. 

The first three phases of the program are funded through a $700,000 grant from the Department of Internal Affairs’ Better Off fund and $50,000 from the $US1m prize money awarded to the council from the Bloomberg Global Mayors Challenge.

“This isn’t going to be an easy process. There will be difficult conversations and tough decisions will have to be made – including facing the possible need for managed retreat from high-risk locations. It’s important that Wellingtonians engage in the process from the very start. It’s their city,” Mayor Tory Whanau said. “Climate adaptation is a long-term, multi-generational challenge. As far as practicable, we must get our response right. We owe it to those currently facing climate issues and to future generations who choose to make Wellington their home.”