LGNZ welcomes call for a coordinated national response to sea level rise

LGNZ welcomes Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) Dr Jan Wright’s latest report Preparing New Zealand for rising seas: Certainty and Uncertainty which takes a thorough approach to the issue of sea level rise.

LGNZ Vice President Brendan Duffy says the report is well timed given the growing focus on climate change, specifically sea level rise and storm surges which New Zealand is facing. LGNZ agrees with the report’s call for a review of national policy and guidance.

“Councils across New Zealand are acutely aware of the need to understand and manage the risks of climate change, including urban flooding and coastal erosion. But we are part of a bigger picture and we need to partner with others to consider adaptation and collectively improve resilience in our communities,” says Mr Duffy.

Dr Wright’s report recognises the far reaching impacts of sea level rise and the difficulties councils face in planning for resilient communities and infrastructure. She is calling for central government to take more of a leadership role around the issue of sea level rise.

LGNZ is encouraged the report acknowledges that largely there is time to plan for sea level rise. However there are some areas which do require more urgent planning including new developments and infrastructure which carry significant cost and are in place for many decades.

“We stress the benefits of careful, coordinated planning to moderate the costs of adaptation to our communities,” says Mr Duffy.

Mr Duffy says the report’s call for more central government leadership reinforces the recent push by local government leaders for more Government action with the signing of the Local Government Leaders Climate Change Declaration.

“There is a real need to manage transitional issues, particularly in areas where many households are affected,” says Mr Duffy.

Mr Duffy also emphasises the importance of Dr. Wright’s recommendation for clear and consistent use of sea level rise information and the establishment of a mandated approach for defining sea level rise.

“Many councils are already considering the local impacts of sea level rise, with some having prepared comprehensive strategies for addressing the impacts. Councils and communities need to take this seriously and be prepared but central government must also play its role,” says Mr Duffy.

LGNZ supports the recommendation for financial risk planning and looks forward to working closely with central government partners on this work.