Climate Action: Building a climate resilient future – together

03/05/2022 11:30am
Park benches in Copenhagen have been raised to show future sea-level rise. Image: Maria Schumann & Kristian Vestergaard
Park benches in Copenhagen have been raised to show future sea-level rise. Image: Maria Schumann & Kristian Vestergaard

As part of our series on climate change, Nelson City Council Climate Change Manager, Rachel Pemberton, provides insight on how by working together, we can develop solutions to prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi – with your food basket and my food basket, the people will thrive. This whakatauki carries an important message for addressing the climate crisis: by working together and building on our strengths, we can create a low emissions and climate resilient future. 

A recent International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) report found that climate change impacts look to be worse than previously estimated – scientists are now estimating that 3.5 billion people (40 per cent of the world’s population) are “highly vulnerable” to climate change.

In Nelson, we’re likely to experience increased average and extreme temperatures, droughts, seasonal variability in rainfall and greater intensity of storms. Nelson will face between 0.4 and 0.7 metres of relative sea-level of rise in the next 50 years, and between 0.8 m and 1.7 metres in 100 years (these figures reflect recently released data on how sea-level rise will impact specific locations. You can read more at:

Amongst the messages of devastation and disruption that we’ve come to expect from IPCC reports there is one message of hope: climate risks will be significantly reduced if we take action now to prepare for a changing climate.

Government is currently consulting on the draft National Adaptation Plan and seeking feedback on how we address the most significant risks identified in the National Climate Change Risk Assessment. Resource management reform is also underway – this will provide local government with much-needed tools and direction for dealing with the gnarly issues such as ‘who pays?’ and the option of moving people from coastal areas to higher ground.

Like many other councils, Nelson City Council is assessing how climate change will impact our city. We will engage with the community in the next few months on coastal inundation and Maitai River flooding, to identify what is important to achieve through our adaptation response.

We are not alone in tackling the climate challenge. Countries all around the world are figuring out ways to build public awareness of climate change impacts and to come up with solutions. In Copenhagen, for example, Danish authorities have raised park benches to show the projected impacts of sea-level rise. In Nelson, we have released maps showing areas of the city likely to be affected by sea-level rise (you find these maps at

Preparing for climate change will require us to work together to develop solutions. As Kiwis and as Nelsonians, we are resourceful, and we rally together in times of crisis. We have what it takes to address the climate crisis.

-Rachel Pemberton, Climate Change Manager, Nelson City Council