Climate change adaptation and local government

Each part of the country will be affected differently by climate change. Councils are best placed to know what is appropriate for their regions. This page outlines the role of councils in helping us prepare for and adapt to climate change, and links to Ministry guidance and sources of funding.

Role of councils

Under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) local government is required to consider the effects of a changing climate on communities. It is also required to incorporate climate change into existing frameworks, plans, projects and standard decision-making procedures. A climate change perspective is now integrated into activities such as flood management, water resources, planning, building regulations and transport.

The Quality Planning website has a guidance note that provides:

  • an overview of how particular regard may be given to the effects of climate change
  • information on expected climate change effects in New Zealand
  • advice on methods for considering and addressing climate change effects under the RMA.

See the Quality Planning website

One of the changes introduced by the Resource Legislation Amendment Act 2017 is that “the management of significant risks from natural hazards” is a new matter of national importance in section 6 of the RMA.

Our guidance

We provide guidance to assist councils to understand and plan for climate change impacts on their regions. We released new climate projections for New Zealand in June 2016 and updated guidance on coastal hazards and climate change in December 2017.

See Guidance for local government on preparing for climate change

Sources of funding

Councils can apply for funding for environmental projects from the following funds.

Community Environment Fund
Funding for community and local government projects that make a positive difference to the environment.

Envirolink funding [Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website]
Funding for advice and research on environmental projects.