For New Zealand, the impact of the effects of climate change on our economy, people, environment, biodiversity, and reputation is one of the greatest threats we face. Paradoxically, successful adaptation to those changes represent one of our greatest opportunities:
We think there are ways different sectors can evolve, in the process evolving our economy. Further, if we do so quickly, there are a number of silver linings that we would also be able to realise. We need to be a more sustainable economy: sustainable financially and economically, as well as environmentally.
GOVERNMENTS (local and national)
However, even if we had a Business Sector which was keen to evolve, to make this successful also requires a proactive national government prepared to take risks for the good of NZ, and by extension the world. We have developed key technologies and companies, but because the world is very large and has large sums of money, many of these have been sold ‘lock stock and barrel’ to overseas interests.
No government can prevent this, but what governments like ours can do is invest more at the seed end of the process, and then protect at the fruiting end with government as an enduring shareholder at a standard level, maybe at 51% if control is required, or otherwise 30% with New Zealand end-user licenses of all those cutting edge technologies and businesses with which we can evolve our economy. Even then if sold overseas, New Zealand still benefits and can use the technology. There are examples of such legal devices overseas.
In terms of intra-government relationships and the adaptation process, local government have been waiting and asking for more central government support (both intellectual and material), in this area. Meanwhile central government having produced some relatively sparse guidance on the dialogue and planning process, it seems as yet not to have engaged intellectually with local government. Central government are the only party at this table that can engage with a whole-of-NZ interest focus.
Further, even if communities were keen to engage with local government on their adaptation journeys to become more resilient, it seems often, in stark contrast to overseas examples, local governments come forward with a retreat policy position first, rather than as in other places, as a last resort. The problem is that while local authorities will want to talk about adaptation, what is actually required is penetrative and cross cutting sustainability delivered at scale very quickly: a process for which local authorities generally do not have the resources, capability or capacity to deliver. There is clearly a mismatch between local and national government responsibilities, capacities, capabilities and resources.
If you have questions about anything you have read here, please feel free to contact us.