Future proofing against climate disasters hinges on getting RM reform right

17 February 2023

LGNZ is urging Government to progress climate change legislation along.

The first two bills reforming the Resource Management Act, the Natural and Built Environments Bill and the Spatial Planning Bill have already passed their first reading in the house, but details regarding the Climate Adaptation Act (CAA) are yet to be seen.

Last week, the country went into a National State of Emergency due to Cyclone Gabrielle devastating many parts of the North Island.  

“For years, LGNZ has called on successive governments to show leadership when it comes to adaption and managed retreat, so local councils can adapt it to their community’s need. Climate change is not a problem for the future. The country has been dealing with the effects of climate change for the better part of a decade,” says LGNZ President Stuart Crosby.

“The CAA will play a critical role in how we futureproof our towns and cities, so it’s frustrating that it has lagged so far behind in the reform process. It shouldn’t take a deadly cyclone for the Government to take action.  

“Communities already in at-risk areas need far greater certainty around the likes of compensation, and councils need the levers to act on climate risks.

“It’s one thing to say that immediate measures will help us ‘build back better’ every time disaster strikes. But putting climate change front and centre of our planning system is actually the key to keeping communities safe in the long-term.

“For a number of reasons, we haven’t seen that yet. Instead, councils find themselves staring down the barrel of reforms that will leave them with far less power to shape where we live, with inadequate tools to fund action.  

“LGNZ is urging central government to avoid mistakes of the past and listen to what local government and their communities are saying. Councils have been dealing with the effect of climate change for years - it’s critical we’re involved in the design of the CAA,” says Stuart Crosby.