Climate Change

Climate change is one of, if not the biggest, environmental challenges we face. While we are uncertain about the pace and scale of change, we do know that a changing climate is likely to affect our economy, environment, and way of life, and that this must be addressed with urgency.

Our region

In the Horizons Region a changing climate is likely to lead to changes in land-use suitability and impacts on primary production. Changing weather patterns, such as a warmer climate, may provide new opportunities for horticulture or cropping in some areas. However, we will also face significant challenges like more frequent and serious flooding. Climate change is not a problem for the distant future: some of these changes are already starting to be felt. By responding now, we can make our communities more resilient and reduce the overall costs associated with climate change.

In 2016, Horizons engaged NIWA to downscale global and national climate models to investigate climate change scenarios for our region. It found we’re likely to experience:

  • Warmer winters with fewer frosts.
  • Hotter summers with risks of heat stress and drought.
  • The introduction of new pests, and more favourable conditions for the ones we already have.
  • Possible introduction of subtropical diseases.
  • Threatened species may struggle to survive.
  • Rising sea levels.

Snippet from Horizons State of our Environment report 2019

Snippet from the 2019 State of our Environment report 

What are we doing?

We are working with other agencies in our region and nationally to respond to climate change and support the transition to a sustainable regional economy.

Climate change is identified as a key issue for the Horizons Region in both the One Plan and our 30 Year Infrastructure Strategy. Some of our core business functions such as flood protection, hill country erosion treatment and emergency management already contribute to climate change adaptation. These programmes build resilience, although climate change has not been the primary driver. In future, we will need to integrate climate change considerations more actively into our business planning decisions.

In 2018-2019, the Annual Plan set a new commitment of $50,000 towards climate change research in the Science and Innovation programme. In the first year, this went an assessment of the physical impact of climate change on key resources, sectors, population and assets from sea level rise and flooding. In 2019-2020, this funding will go towards a regional account of greenhouse gas emissions.

Horizons' climate change strategy

Alongside the science, a cross-organisational team has been established to develop a Climate Change Strategy for Horizons. The aim of this strategy is to:

  • Set a position on Horizons’ role in mitigation and adaptation to the effects of climate change.
  • Provide a direction on what action Horizons should proactively take.
  • Provide a basis for responding to opportunities and disruptions as they relate to our activities and community outcomes
  • Develop staff understanding of how the strategy approach will relate to day-to-day work of the business.

The strategy is divided into two phases:

Phase one – direction setting.
  • Horizons and territorial authorities in our region signed a Memorandum of Understanding in September 2019, undertaking to work together in response to climate change.
  • We are developing objectives and policies to guide Horizons’ effort and investment through the Long-term Plan.

Phase two – action planning.
  • In parallel, we have started to work with territorial authorities to produce a joint action plan. In the first instance, this will reflect existing activities that provide a foundation for our climate change response. As we continue to develop our strategy, we will add to our action plan.
  • A vulnerability assessment will be an important step identifying in climate-related impacts across the region and agreeing how to prioritise them.
  • Resourcing for new actions will be addressed through Annual Plan/Long-term Plan processes.

Climate Change - State of the Environment Report 2019


Climate change implications for the Manawatū-Whanganui


Climate Change and Variability - Horizons Region 2016


Memorandum of Understanding