Aotearoa New Zealand's first national adaptation plan released

Aotearoa is already experiencing the unavoidable effects of climate change. However, the severity with which we will feel climate change impacts can be lessened if we do all we can to limit warming and act now to adapt, live and thrive in a more damaging climate.

Read the national adaptation plan 

Find out more about the national adaptation plan and related information

Climate change is increasing temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, causing sea levels to rise, and exacerbating natural hazards such as flooding, erosion and drought. The weather is more turbulent and less predictable.

This disrupts the things we need for life to run smoothly like roads, drains, water supplies, buildings and even our health. These disruptions can cost us financially. They can also increase existing inequities for Māori, Pasifika, women, disabled people and older people.

At the same time as adapting, reducing emissions and limiting the severity of future climate change is just as important.  This work is set out in the emissions reduction plan. 

The national adaptation plan (NAP) considers the impacts of climate change now and into the future and it sets out how we will adapt.

“New Zealand has a history of solving challenges through innovation and resourcefulness and determination, adapting to climate change is no different,” says Climate Change Minister James Shaw.

Minister Shaw is confident that New Zealanders can plan for the ongoing impacts of climate change much the same as how we plan for other natural disasters and risks.

“We’re used to planning long term for earthquakes. We have systems and regulations in place to manage those risks. We have information that we need to be prepared. Now we’ll be taking the same approach to climate change.”

The NAP has over 120 actions and responds to risks raised in the climate change risk assessment in 2020. Several actions to address these risks are already underway.

Why the plan is important to everyone

Climate change affects all New Zealanders and it’s important we all understand how it impacts us, our whānau and loved ones.

The best course of action for New Zealanders being affected by climate change now is to understand how climate change could affect them and what they value, and what options they have for adapting.

The plan includes online information for every New Zealander about risks we face. Climate change will affect where we want to live and invest, how we farm and run our businesses and how we keep ourselves safe. To make good decisions, we will need to assess current and future climate risks to our homes, businesses and communities.

Different areas of New Zealand will be faced with different risks - flooding, wildfires, erosion, sea level rise, drought or other weather hazards. We all need information about risks we face, and this will be provided online later this year along with guidance on how to adapt.

A platform is being set up so Māori can put together tangata whenua actions that are more climate friendly and resilient. This is particularly important because there are many Māori in coastal fringes and lowland areas who are already exposed to flooding, erosion and sedimentation. Māori were clear in consultation that they wanted to be more involved in designing and implementing solutions for adaptation.

We need standards so that buildings, infrastructure and developments are more climate resilient and are put in the right place away from rising sea levels and areas of frequent flooding. This is already underway in the reforms of the systems of resource management, emergency management and wastewater, drinking water and storm water management. This is also captured in the review of the future for local government.

Further work is underway to ensure local government can implement adaptation options that are right for the risks their communities face, which could include managed retreat. Investing now to reduce risk will reduce our overall long-term costs. Central government does not bear all the costs - they will need to be shared across society.

A work programme for guidance is underway for those who need to make decisions with climate change risks in mind, such as farmers experiencing drought or the seafood industry feeling the impacts of marine heatwaves.

A risk assessment followed by a new plan every six years

Over time we will begin to see the positive impacts of the actions in the plan. Every six years, a new risk assessment will identify what needs to be addressed most urgently.  New plans that respond to those risks will be developed in consultation with all New Zealanders.

“By cutting emissions and limiting warming, we can limit the severity of future climate impacts, and those efforts will be critical. But as recent events have shown, some of those impacts are unavoidable. The national adaptation plan sets out how we will step up and face that challenge together.”

Media release from Minister of Climate Change James Shaw [Beehive website]