Actions for the built environment in the face of climate change are set out in the Government’s draft national adaptation plan, Adapt and Thrive – Building a climate-resilient New Zealand.

Released in April, this aims to provide a cohesive plan to help people understand and properly prepare for the effects of climate change. It is designed to set clear responsibilities across government agencies, government authorities, industries and communities.

Read together, its chapters on infrastructure and homes, building and places provide a full picture of adaptation actions for the built environment.

The Plan encompasses three main areas with associated actions. These are to reform institutions to be fit for a changing climate; provide data, information, tools and guidance to allow everyone to assess and reduce their own climate risks; and to embed climate resilience across government strategies and policies.

The infrastructure section of the Plan covers energy, telecommunications, transport, water, waste and social infrastructure. Objectives are, to reduce vulnerability of assets exposed to climate change; ensure all new infrastructure is fit for a changing climate; and to use renewal programmes to improve adaptive capacity. Proposed actions are designed to achieve these objectives and address the built environment risks in the National Climate Change Risk Assessment (NCCRA).

Each chapter sets out a range of critical actions and responsible departments.

  • Te Waihanga is responsible for developing a methodology for assessing impacts on physical assets and the services they provide as well as scoping a resilience standard for infrastructure
  • Treasury has been asked to provide advice on how to integrate adaptation into Treasury decisions on infrastructure
  • Waka Kotahi is responsible for developing and implementing the Waka Kotahi Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan by 2024.

There are also a series of supporting actions, many of which are already underway.

Homes, buildings and places
The Plan contains objectives for ‘Homes, buildings and places’ to ensure they are resilient to the changing climate allowing people and communities to thrive.

These include:

  • Ensuring homes and buildings are climate resilient and meet social and cultural needs
  • New and existing places are planned and managed to minimise risks to communities from climate change
  • Māori connections to whenua and places of cultural value are strengthened through partnerships
  • Threats to cultural heritage arising from climate change are understood and impacts minimised.

Consultation, including the submission from INZ, will help inform the actions included in New Zealand’s first National Adaptation Plan, due for publication in August this year.