This page outlines central government's role in helping New Zealand prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Role of central government
Central government sets the direction so that New Zealand’s national infrastructure, people, environment and economy are more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
- provides the legislative and policy framework
- provides information and guidance to support local government and businesses to make effective adaptive decisions
- funds research and publishes information on climate change impacts
- prepares for and responds to major natural hazard events.
In November 2016 the Government asked a group of technical experts across the public and private sectors to provide advice on how New Zealand could adapt to the effects of climate change.
Find out about the Climate change adaptation technical working group and its stocktake and recommendations reports.
Legislative and policy framework
The key piece of legislation for adapting to climate change and associated natural hazards. All people exercising duties and functions under the RMA are required to have particular regard to the effects of climate change and this is undertaken as part of wider natural hazards management.
One of the changes introduced by the Resource Legislation Amendment Act 2017 is that “the management of significant risks from natural hazards” is a new matter of national importance in section 6 of the RMA.
- Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002 [New Zealand Legislation website]
The Act provides for hazards and risks, and emergency response and recovery.
- National disaster resilience strategy [Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management website]
The strategy sets out what New Zealanders expect from civil defence emergency management and what we want to achieve.
- Thirty year New Zealand infrastructure plan 2015 [National Infrastructure Unit website]
The importance of taking into account the implications of climate change for infrastructure management is reflected in 'Our climate is changing and our natural resources are under pressure' on page 16.
The NPS-FM provides national policy direction to regional councils on freshwater management and requires regional councils to have regard to the reasonably foreseeable impacts of climate change. The NPS-FM was amended in 2017.
- New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 [Department of Conservation website]
The NZ CPS includes specific policies for the management of coastal hazards and requires consideration of the effects of climate change.
Information and guidance
Central government provides information and guidance on climate change effects that are most likely to have a significant impact at a regional, national or sector level. This is so local government, engineers, businesses and individuals have access to the information they need in order to adapt. The Ministry for the Environment coordinates the central government adaptation programme.
- Guidance for local government on preparing for climate change
- New Zealand's framework for adapting to climate change
- the Climate Cloud website, a digital library targeted at the land-based sector. Its purpose is to help managers understand and respond to challenges and opportunities of climate change
- Climate change and the New Zealand marine environment [NIWA website]
- Urban impacts toolbox [NIWA website]
- Adapting to a changing climate: A proposed framework for the conservation of terrestrial native biodiversity in New Zealand [PDF, 560.4 KB] [Department of Conservation website]
- Heat health plans - Guidance and key information [Ministry of Health website]
Central government is spending approximately $100 million over 10 years on research and projects relating to adapting to climate change. This research will assist local councils, businesses, individuals and communities to identify impacts and implement effective adaptation solutions.
Research initiatives include:
- Climate changes, impacts and implications project [Climate Changes Impacts & Implications website]
A project to update and improve projections of climate trends, variability and extremes across New Zealand out to 2100
- Natural hazards research platform [Natural Hazards Research Platform website]
The purpose of this initiative is to increase New Zealand's resilience to natural hazards through high quality collaborative research.
- Coastal adaptation to climate change project [NIWA website]
NIWA is developing guidelines and advice to help coastal communities adapt to climate change.
- The Deep South [National Science Challenges website]
Understanding the role of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean in determining our climate and our future environment, to enable New Zealanders to adapt, manage risk and thrive in a changing climate.
- Resilience to Nature's Challenges [National Science Challenges website]
Enhancing New Zealand's ability to anticipate, adapt and thrive in the face of ever-changing natural hazards.
- Irrigation Acceleration Fund [Ministry for Primary Industries website]
- Sustainable land management hill country erosion programme [Ministry for Primary Industries website]