The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) is hosting a nationwide series of workshops aimed at encouraging councils to plan for coastal climate change now rather than wait for certainty about what might happen.
The workshops are run by the Ministry for the Environment with the support of the Deep South National Science Challenge. The goal is to make councils more familiar with the updated Coastal Hazards and Climate Change Guidance. They will offer tips on how to get a team together and at what points to include engagement with the community.
NIWA senior scientist Rob Bell is concerned many councils are having difficulty “getting off the starting blocks” when it comes to planning for coastal climate change. He wants councils to know there is new information and tools available that can help them, regardless of the uncertainties about how climate change will affect their region.
“I think councils generally know there’s a problem and want to get on with it, but what I’ve picked up is that they don’t quite know where to start – often the biggest hurdle is getting off the starting blocks,” Bell said.
The start of the workshops coincides with the results of a survey commissioned by insurance company IAG about Kiwis’ knowledge of and attitude towards climate change. The survey found that almost 90% of people are expecting more frequent and extreme storms. Some 75% of respondents thought some people will need to move from where they live.
Deep South Challenge partnerships director Angela Halliday, meanwhile, said: “The idea of getting out to the regions and having the experts in their field present on the guidance was a long time in the planning.
“It’s a great example of collaboration between the science community, local and central government,” she added.
NIWA said public meetings will also be held in several workshop locations.
Bell is one of several experts, along with analysts from the Ministry for the Environment, who will be leading the workshops.
“We’ve got to get on and do something now despite the uncertainty,” he added. “Decisions can’t wait, so we are suggesting that adaptive planning and monitoring progress towards decision points is the best tool in the box.”