Centre for Sustainability Director Janet Stephenson is to lead a new Deep South National Science Challenge project in response to a report highlighting key gaps in our understanding about how climate change will impact New Zealand’s diverse communities.


To ensure communities successfully adapt in the face of climate change, local authorities need both new tools and ways of engaging with affected communities, and to support adaptation initiatives already being driven by iwi and communities.

The Climate-Adaptive Communities project is using case studies in Te Awa Kairangi (the Hutt Valley) and Ōtepoti (Dunedin) to investigate how councils already engage with exposed communities, the extent to which this is informing and influencing adaptation planning and practice, and options for improvement.

“We explore how community groups, iwi, businesses and NGOs are involved in self-motivated adaptation actions, and the intersection with councils’ mandated roles and responsibilities,” says Janet.

“Our project focusses on more vulnerable community members to consider whether additional actions – not just engagement – are needed to ensure they are not further marginalised by adaptation processes.”

The project will ultimately offer a suite of recommendations for policy, process and adaptation practice.

Read more about the project.

Project budget:

$196,511

Project duration:

January 2018 – June 2019