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ES Councillors endorse Proposed Regional Climate Change Strategy

The Proposed Regional Climate Change Strategy for Murihiku Southland was endorsed at Thursday’s Environment Southland Council meeting.

The proposed strategy has now been endorsed by all four Murihiku Southland councils, and will go out for public consultation at the end of February.

A Regional Climate Change Inter-agency Group made up of tangata whenua representatives and elected representatives of all councils in the region, is working collaboratively to ensure climate change is being tackled at a regional level.

Environment Southland Councillor, Phil Morrison and Te Ao Mārama (TAMI) kaupapa taiao manager, Dean Whaanga are the Co-chairs of the working group which formed in early 2023.

Some parts of Murihiku Southland are already prone to flooding as evidenced by the 2020 and 2023 events, while dry spells and drought conditions were experienced in many parts of our region during recent summers.

Phil Morrison said the changing climate was predicted to significantly impact Murihiku Southland communities, ecosystems and natural resources. It is likely to result in changes to land use, the location of key infrastructure, where and how businesses operate and how natural resources are used.

The first priority for this group was to develop a strategy to inform the development of each council’s Long-term Plan, to help drive Murihiku Southland’s response to climate change, he said.

“This includes the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the changes across the region.”

Dean Whaanga said science and mātauranga underpinned the response to our changing climate in Murihiku Southland.

“We understand the changes, challenges and opportunities associated with our changing climate and want to build community resilience to respond and thrive.”

Phil Morrison said understanding the opportunities of investing in resilience versus the costs of post-event recovery will be an important consideration.

The strategy’s principles provide direction on ways of working together to create a regional response to the impacts of a changing climate on Murihiku Southland, such as sea-level rise, indigenous biodiversity loss and biosecurity incursions.

A Regional Framework for Action will now be developed, defining and prioritising specific actions and initiatives.

NIWA is working on updating the previous national climate change projections for New Zealand, and regional projections will be updated from these.

Environment Southland will co-ordinate public feedback on the proposed strategy via its website, on behalf of all of the agencies involved, from late February until early May. The feedback will then be considered by the working group before finalisation and adoption of the proposed Regional Climate Change Strategy, approximately mid-2024.

Each council will also develop plans to address climate change impacts specific to their own communities and areas.


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