Climate change communication fundamental | Otago Daily Times Online News

A new climate change document will be fundamental in the future decision-making of about 70 Otago councils and organisations, Otago Regional Council staff say.

The 269-page Otago Climate Change Risk Assessment report by consultants Tonkin and Taylor was tabled at the regional council’s data and information committee meeting yesterday.

The milestone report highlights the risks Otago’s natural environment, built environment, economy and governance will face due to climate change in the next 100 years.

During the meeting, councillors agreed to endorse the data and report and the dissemination of the information to the public and to stakeholders.

Council staff told councillors they anticipated the report would be used by about 70 groups across the region who were involved in developing it.

That included the Department of Conservation, Heritage New Zealand and the Otago Chamber of Commerce.

Cr Michael Deaker said the report was “massively” important to the people of Otago, but wanted to know how council staff would ensure people could understand it.

Council staff said that was one of the next steps.

A communications plan included providing the key findings on the regional council’s website, direct communication to stakeholders, public engagement, including at the Wanaka Show and South Dunedin Street Festival, and providing interactive resources including maps and videos.

At a media session outside the council meeting room, council natural hazards manager Jean-Luc Payan said the council was conscious of the need to communicate the complex report clearly.

“The report will lose its strength if communication to the public is not effective.”

Natural hazards analyst Ellyse Gore said the report did not give direct solutions to climate change, but would be an important tool to guide future decision-making around adaptation and mitigation.

Operations general manager Gavin Palmer said the report would allow for a unified approach to climate change across the region.

That would lead to more effective action.

The report would be updated every six years and was developed in line with the approach used by the government on its national climate change risk assessment, he said.

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