Climate disruption is a reality and councils and communities are already dealing with the consequences. With temperatures and sea levels rising, increased flood risk and more frequent severe weather events occurring, the widespread impact of this climate disruption on human, economic and natural systems are occurring more frequently, and councils need to adapt to this new reality.

Under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) our sector is required to consider the effects of a changing climate on communities. We also need to incorporate climate change considerations into existing frameworks, plans, projects and standard decision-making procedures including flood management, water resources, planning, building regulations and transport activities.

James Hughes, Technical Director: Climate Change and Resilience at Tonkin + Taylor, one of the speakers at our upcoming Marsh Risk Management Forum, shares some strategies that councils might take to adapt to the changing climate.

Have strong leadership with good processes and good governance

Risk management planning and resourcing is essential, along with strong leadership and governance. An understanding of climate change adaptation and sound processes is also important. Climate change impacts every area of council activity, and therefore every project and plan should have a climate change adaptation lens applied to it. A focus on urban development and building connected communities that have good access to public transport will be key to reducing future carbon emissions.

Get your local community engaged and educate them on climate change

Community engagement and education on climate change adaption is important, and councils can lead by example in this space. Councils can promote new ways of living that support climate change adaption, manage community expectations around urban development, and begin to socialise the case for high density housing and good public transport links.

Understanding the risks in your region

Each council will be dealing with different risks – in some areas there will be flood hazards, while other areas may be dealing with coastal erosion. It’s important that councils clearly identify the risks specific to their region and have a plan in place to mitigate and adapt to these risks. This is specially important when planning new greenfields developments.

Become fluent in the language of carbon

Carbon impact, carbon footprint, and carbon accounting are all terms to be aware of. Carbon footprint is the measure of the climatic impact that your Council activities have. Councils need to be able to consider the impact that their decision-making has on the environment, comparing options using carbon accounting methods.

Interested to hear more?

Join James Hughes at the upcoming Marsh Risk Management Forum on 22 – 25 March where he will talk in detail about how councils can be prepared for climate change adaption.

The forum will be held online over four online sessions.