Impacts and Implications

Improving our understanding of the likely impacts of climate change to support decision-making about and adaptation to climate change.


Climate change is having, and will have, a range of impacts, including physical impacts (for example, sea-level rise or changing temperatures), socioeconomic impacts (climate change will impact different social groups in different ways), and environmental impacts, including how climate change will impact our natural environment.

If we can understand how climate change will impact New Zealand, we can plan for it more effectively. This involves taking a ‘big picture’ view. We need to explore how the many and varied impacts of climate change will interact with each other.

Our programme is aiming to make sure that New Zealanders can properly consider and evaluate key impacts of climate change. Our research into the impacts of climate change will also feed into and be informed by the emerging New Zealand Earth System Model.



We’re also aiming to make sure communities, end-users and stakeholders consider climate change in multiple contexts and make robust decisions about adaptation.

Further, we need to better understand the institutions that facilitate climate change adaptation. Our research is looking into historical responses to environmental threats and at the way climate-sensitive decisions are currently being made.


The dialogues

The purpose of the Deep South Challenge is to produce knowledge that New Zealand communities, including Māori, industry and government groups can use to plan for, and adapt to, climate change. It’s therefore crucial that these groups are involved in framing the research itself – we need to learn which issues relating to the impacts of climate change are most important to them.

The Impacts and Implications programme is running a series of innovative stakeholder dialogues that enable the co-creation of research questions, to make sure our research directly meets stakeholder needs.

Facilitated by Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, these dialogues aim to develop a shared understanding of key issues, to map current knowledge about them, to identify creative ideas to address them, and to pose well-formulated research questions. In this way, the dialogue process creates a more informed policy and research environment.

The dialogues bring together researchers, community leaders, government agencies and NGOs to formulate research questions around the following topics:

  • Insurance, coastal housing and climate adaptation
  • Storm water and wastewater infrastructure
  • Flood-prone communities and sea-level rise
  • Drought management
  • Urban and freight transport

Read more about the dialogues, including possible future dialogues and how to get involved, here.

Building on existing work

The Impacts and Implications programme builds on a four-year project that finished in 2016: Climate Changes, Impacts & Implications for New Zealand. This MBIE-funded project modelled the impacts of climate change on human and natural systems, including a national integrated assessment and a series of five case studies focusing on different ecological areas in New Zealand. There is a national assessment for this body of work.

Several of our projects investigate the impact of climate change on our nation's water, from our snow, ice and glaciers to water storage, irrigation, drought and flood. 

Funded projects

Science lead and team

Science lead: Anita Wreford, Lincoln University