Managed retreat framework should be developed by councils

3 August 2022

Relocating communities is not a silver bullet for the challenges of climate change and councils know that, says LGNZ President Stuart Crosby.

Today the Government released its National Adaptation Plan (NAP), which aims to address the harmful impacts of climate change.

“Councils and communities at risk from the impacts of climate change need more clarity on their options to help residents adapt,” Stuart Crosby said.

“We are really pleased that the Government’s listened to local government by making it clear that managed retreat is one of a suite of adaptation options.  We are, however, none the wiser on what levers and tools central government’s planning to use in the short to medium term to protect residents living in high-risk areas.

“We need immediate measures because waiting for broader system reform to bed in, which could take up to 10 years, is just not an option. Councils know what levers and tools are needed now, so central government must work with us.

“Until now, there has been no national direction, so councils have decades of experience in making their own decisions.

“There are a number of other options such as building protective structures, nature-based solutions, and making buildings and structures safer and more resilient to save residents from the traumatic experience of retreating.

“We urge the government to allow councils to lead the work to develop a practical adaptation and managed retreat framework to give at-risk communities the certainty they need.

“The local government sector has been advocating for a long time to ensure that the Government uses managed retreat as the last resort.

“Managed retreat is a useful tool in the toolkit but it would be naïve to think that it’s the best solution for all at-risk communities.

“We told Government, in our submission to the draft National Adaptation Plan, that we need to be working with communities to identify appropriate solutions to the risks they face.

“Every day councils are dealing with the effects of climate change including more frequent extreme weather events. It would be remiss of the Government to ignore the expertise that exists within councils as they start to implement the NAP and develop the Climate Adaptation Act,” Stuart Crosby said.