Climate adaptation, vulnerability and community well-being

In the coming decades, many New Zealand families and businesses will be exposed to climate change impacts such as flooding and coastal erosion. Some will be resilient but others may find the physical, social, financial or emotional aftermath difficult to recover from.

Whanau feed earthquake victims at Takahanga Marae, Kaikoura

To ensure communities successfully adapt in the face of climate change, local authorities need both new tools and ways of engaging with affected communities, and to support adaptation initiatives already being driven by iwi and communities.

Using case studies in Te Awa Kairangi (the Hutt Valley) and Ōtepoti (Dunedin), this project investigates how councils already engage with exposed communities, the extent to which this is informing and influencing adaptation planning and practice, and options for improvement.

We explore how community groups, iwi, businesses and NGOs are involved in self-motivated adaptation actions, and the intersection with councils’ mandated roles and responsibilities.

Our project focusses on more vulnerable community members to consider whether additional actions – not just engagement – are needed to ensure they are not further marginalised by adaptation processes.

Impacts on property value may have major adverse effects on households and businesses, so we are also examining the legal arrangements for compensation and whether they are fit for purpose. We’re developing a suite of recommendations for policy, process and adaptation practice, and communicating these findings to end users.