Responding to the water-related impacts of climate change

Publish Date : 29 Mar 2022
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With the recent drought still fresh in our minds, it may be hard to envisage the Auckland region being impacted by too much water events; but with the anticipated impacts of climate change, that’s a very real risk that we are preparing for.

The Auckland Plan 2050 sets the direction that we need to proactively adapt to a changing water future, and Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan indicates that over the next 100 years, the natural hazards caused by too much water may increase in terms of frequency and scale.

To address these risks and inform how we respond to these hazards in the future i.e., intense storms, landslips, erosion, sea-level rise and flooding, Auckland Council is currently developing a 100-year adaptive policy.

The policy will identify how the council will work with communities, including iwi, to manage the risk and impacts, including:

  • What interventions may be appropriate and when,
  • How the costs will be shared in a way that is equitable across different communities for current and future generations,
  • And how the approach will adapt to stay current.

As work to develop the policy progresses, the council has confirmed its current role and direction.

This will help to provide clarity on the council’s leadership role as a unitary authority, the future uncertainties that exist, and the long-term focus on a consistent and equitable approach to managing the risks and impacts from water-related events.

These statements will also help guide our elected members in their decision-making on water-related topics while the long-term policy is being developed.

The three direction statements are:

  1. The council is committed to long-term solutions that improve our ability to respond to the water-related impacts of climate change

There are no easy choices, and it is increasingly difficult to provide certainty about what will occur, when and how we will need to adapt over the long-term. The council will use adaptive pathways which keep future options flexible, as we plan long-term solutions, to adapt to a changing climate future. This method uses social and cultural change as well as science, and too much water risk analysis to map long-term pathways so Aucklanders know what change is required and what triggers will direct the timing and certainty of change. 

  1. The council is fulfilling its leadership role as a unitary authority, alongside the shared responsibility between the government and Aucklanders to respond to the water-related impacts of climate change

The council will continue to fulfil its leadership role as a unitary authority including as a regulator, emergency responder, information and service provider, landowner and advocate.

Aucklanders, communities, and the council all have a shared responsibility to mitigate water-related climate change impacts based on the information available and acceptable levels of risk to human safety and property. The council will also continue to advocate to central government for improved tools to adapt to the changing climate.

  1. The council follows a financially prudent and equitable approach to the investment of public funds to respond to the water-related impacts of climate change

Costs are shared by affected and responsible parties. If the council chooses to intervene as a service and infrastructure provider, spending of public funds must be prudent and equitable across Auckland and across generations based on public, private, and intergenerational benefit, and impact on social, cultural, economic and environmental wellbeing.

Until a long-term policy is developed, articulating the council’s current approach better prepares the council and Aucklanders for when too much water events occur.

You can read the full statement of current role and direction on the Auckland Council website.

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