In New Zealand, councils are required by law under the Local Government Act 2002 to prepare a Long-Term plan (LTP), a “robust planning process” showing what councils plan to do in the next ten or so years in consultation with their communities.
LTPs are key planning tools for councils, consisting of activities and expected outcomes, goods and services they provide, funding, and financial management policies and information.
Audit New Zealand is the governmental body that conducts annual audits of New Zealand’s public entities, including the city and district councils LTPs and ensuring its accountability and transparency.
Covid-19 have significantly affected councils across NZ, and councils anticipate recovery to take a long time. Climate change also poses ongoing and future threats for New Zealand.
According to Audit NZ, a small number of councils acknowledge their limited understanding of the risks involved regarding climate change. Thus, most of 2018 to 28 LTPs have postponed addressing the long-term effects of climate change.
However, for the current 2021 to 31 LTPs, the Audit NZ expects that councils will have an improved understanding of climate change.
Councils LTPs should cover how it will respond to climate change effects like sea-level rise, rainfall levels, flood frequency, extreme natural events, and temperature changes and how it will address climate change impacts on council’s critical infrastructures and assets, and the ensuing social, economic, cultural impacts to the community.
Any assumptions that the council makes regarding the effects of climate change should also be supported with appropriate information.
Nelson City’s focus on climate change in its 10-year plan has won praise from Audit NZ, according to a Stuff article. The city has declared a climate change emergency in 2019 and appointed a climate change champion.
City councillor Kate Fulton expressed her excitement about climate change’s inclusion in the council’s LTP, which according to her, is not only an environmental issue but a social and economic one.
She describes the council’s long-term climate change plan as “ambitious in terms of climate action” with proposals to tackle mitigation, climate adaptation, and resilience.
Nelson City’s LTP for climate change consists of four sections: how people will live and work, transport themselves, reduce waste and consumption, and protect nature, according to the article.
The city is proposing $52 million for climate action in the next ten years for resilience projects, including reducing flooding and inundation. Part of the budget will go to a city-wide kitchen-waste composting mechanism priced at $13.3 million.
To know more about Long-term Plans in New Zealand, check out this short video: