A joint local authority committee that will play a key role in Northland’s future approach to managing climate change has held its inaugural meeting in Whangarei.
The April 12 meeting of the Joint Climate Change Adaptation Committee saw Northland Regional Councillor Amy Macdonald appointed group chair and Whangarei District Council tangata whenua representative Delaraine Armstrong deputy.
The eight-member group has one councillor from each of Northland’s four councils and one iwi/hapu representative from each of the council’s jurisdictions.
Councillor Macdonald says all four Northland councils have been working closely on climate change for some time.
In 2018 they had established a shared staff working group – Climate Adaptation Te Taitokerau (CATT) – to work on a collaborative approach to climate change adaptation, while at a political level the joint committee was formed this year.
“The evidence is clear that climate change is the largest environmental challenge of our time,” Cr Macdonald says. “And we can see that it’s not just a future process – it is happening now.’’
“Our communities increasingly see climate change reflected in the environment around them and they have growing concern about the future for their children and grandchildren.”
She says working with district councils, tangata whenua and affected communities is crucial to ensuring the region was collectively better prepared for climate change.
To that end, all four of Northland’s councils have been consulting on climate change related proposals as part of their 10-year Long Term Plans (LTP).
At the committee’s next meeting in August, CATT is aiming to present an adaptation strategy intended to outline the path toward a consistent and coordinated approach to supporting communities to adapt to climate change.
Councillor Macdonald says in essence the strategy has been guided by three key questions; what’s happening, what can we do about it and what are the next steps?
“The strategy provides an overview of climate change risks to Northland with a focus on local government responsibilities, with the aim of identifying priority risks requiring adaptation planning.”
The strategy and accompanying implementation plan will set out a 10-year work programme that identifies how and where councils will work with communities to develop local climate change adaptation plans, including key localities, appropriate methods for adaptation engagement, associated timeframes and required resourcing.
The implementation plan will be updated annually to reflect Long Term Plan and annual plan budgets and will set out which communities the councils will work with, the type of engagement required and the available resources.
n General information about climate change is available online at nrc.govt.nz/climatechange and the public is also welcome to attend joint committee meetings.
“We can see that it’s not just a future process – it is happening now.’’
NRC councillor Amy Macdonald.