Ahead of October’s local government elections, the Insurance Council of New Zealand called on mayors, councillors and community board members to prioritise climate resilience, as environmental risks grow.

ICNZ chief executive Tim Grafton said climate events already cost communities millions of dollars each year, impacting health and wellbeing. He told local bodies to bolster their climate defences, with severe weather expected to become more frequent in the decades to come.

"Investing in measures to reduce climate risks will have widespread benefits for communities and will help support the affordability of insurance the length and breadth of the motu," said Grafton. "Incoming councils must understand the risks facing their communities and put in place proportionate and timely measures to manage them."

It follows the publication of the NZSeaRise tool earlier this year, which highlighted the parts of New Zealand at greatest risk from climate change. For every home at direct risk as a consequence of rising sea levels, a further ten are at risk from floods following extreme rainfall, the ICNZ noted.

"Our communities face multiple climate-related risks,” Grafton said. All incoming councils must act to address these if they are to maintain the viability of their communities over the medium to long terms. I hope that both electors and those they elect approach climate change as if the future of their communities depends upon it being taken seriously; because it does."

December 2022