LGNZ sees significant issues for New Zealand in Commissioner's sea level rise report

27 Nov 2014, 10:09 AM

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) has recognised findings of Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright’s report released today on the impact of rising seas as significant for coastal areas of New Zealand, aligning well with work the sector is undertaking.

 The independent report, ‘Changing climate and rising seas: Understanding the science’ sends strong signals to both central and local government that this is a big issue for New Zealand.  It shows that sea levels have risen by 20 centimetres over the last hundred years and a further rise of 30 centimetres is inevitable by 2050. 

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says unless we take these issues seriously, there will be significant ramifications for coastal areas of New Zealand.

“If New Zealand does not take action, communities will continue to be impacted.  There needs to be a shared national approach to tackle issues of climate change and sea level rise that can be implemented at a national, regional and local level,” Mr Yule says.

“We see a need for a serious bi-partisan discussion on the management of natural hazards including sea level rises, flood mapping and coastal hazards.” 

LGNZ says the report also aligns well with recent work local government has undertaken to address the impact of natural hazards. 

“It highlights similar themes to local government’s work, including that the risk damage from natural hazards is likely to increase, and the vulnerability and degree of loss that can be expected from natural hazards is high in New Zealand because we are a small economy,” Mr Yule says.

The think piece LGNZ released in October, ‘Managing natural hazard risk in New Zealand – Towards more resilient communities’, has pinpointed the need for a national framework  to address the need to apply effort across the continuum from hazard mitigation to adaptation, and across the four ‘Rs’ – from risk reduction, readiness, response and recovery aspects.

It shows there is a need for issue and place-specific responses to natural hazards, and integration and collaboration to develop and deliver effective responses across the many players.  

The Parliamentary Commissioner’s work also aligns with LGNZ’s current review of the local government insurance market which recommends that councils more actively embrace, understand and manage assets and risk including spending more resources on risk profiling, risk management and risk mitigation to improve self-reliance and resilience.