Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 581–594 | Cite as

Dealing with changing risks: a New Zealand perspective on climate change adaptation

  • Martin Manning
  • Judy Lawrence
  • Darren Ngaru King
  • Ralph Chapman
Original Article

Abstract

Future changes in New Zealand’s climate are expected to be less than in many other countries, and New Zealand has well-established governance structures for dealing with environmental risks. While this might imply that adaptation would be straightforward, extensive public and private investments, as well as many traditional Māori assets and cultural values, are in areas increasingly at risk of flooding and sea level rise. In order to consider the country’s adaptive capacity in more detail, we have used an empirical research approach, working with government practitioners at three levels and with Māori communities. Very different perceptions of risk, and structural inertia in planning processes have emerged as key issues for implementing adaptation responses. In particular, the use of static frameworks biases responses towards retrospective, rather than anticipatory analysis. Ongoing socioeconomic changes in New Zealand also raise the risk of structural effects caused by climate change impacts becoming unevenly distributed across society. Our analysis indicates that a national and regional strategic approach, centred on a dynamic view of climate risk, is necessary for effective decisions at the local government and community level. In addition, effective adaptation requires better identification of barriers and opportunities for addressing changing risk, together with more effective and continuous social engagement.

Keywords

Climate change Adaptation Barriers Community response Local government Indigenous people 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Manning
    • 1
  • Judy Lawrence
    • 1
  • Darren Ngaru King
    • 2
  • Ralph Chapman
    • 3
  1. 1.New Zealand Climate Change Research InstituteVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Māori Environmental Research Centre/National Climate CentreNational Institute of Water and Atmospheric ResearchAucklandNew Zealand
  3. 3.School of Geography Environment and Earth SciencesVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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