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Health and climate change: adaptation policy in Aotearoa New Zealand


Recent extreme weather events attributable to climate change have major implications for policy. Here we summarize and evaluate the current state of climate change adaptation policy, from a health perspective, for Aotearoa New Zealand, based on government sources. Legislation relating to both environmental management and health are currently subject to major reforms. At present, adaptation policy emphasises protection of health care facilities from climate extremes; there is insufficient attention paid to broader determinants of health. We argue for greater health input into adaptation planning. Without intersectoral collaboration, contributions from diverse communities, and better support of indigenous solutions, climate change policy is unlikely to achieve effective health outcomes and there is a risk that climate change will exacerbate inequities. We recommend that the Climate Change Commission engage formally and directly with health bodies to strengthen the Commission's advice on the implications of climate change, and of national climate change policies, on health and equity. Climate resilient development does not occur without better public health. For this reason, the health sector has a critical role in the development and implementation of adaptation policy.

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