A new initiative for a shared problem: introducing Climate Connect Aotearoa

1 September 2022
Climate Connect Aotearoa

Climate Connect Aotearoa is being established to address feedback from Aucklanders that there is a need for climate action, and that this needs to be transformative. The need for more collaboration was also identified during the development of Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan, outlining Auckland’s response to the climate emergency.

In June 2019, Auckland Council declared a Climate Emergency and the following year adopted Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland's Climate Plan – a roadmap to a zero-emissions, resilient and healthier Auckland that is better connected to our environment and able to thrive in the face of ongoing change and disruption.

The plan highlighted that Auckland had less than a decade to make major changes to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.  It also urges Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland to meet that challenge with a deeply cultural response, rooted in a sense of place, in partnership with mana whenua and that’s inclusive of all parts of our beautiful community.

The plan outlined the region’s long-term approach to climate action with two core goals: 

  • To reduce Auckland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050; 
  • To adapt to the impacts of climate change by ensuring Auckland plans for the changes faced under the current emissions pathway

While researching and developing Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri with stakeholders across the region it became clear that a climate innovation hub was an urgent priority to bring people together across sectors to address our climate challenges and opportunities. The creation of such a hub became an action within the Economy theme of Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri with the aim to accelerate the uptake of innovation that supports the delivery of a resilient, climate-proof and regenerative economy.  

The mandate to establish a climate innovation hub was appointed to Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s economic and cultural  agency, and it was the beginning of Climate Connect Aotearoa (this name was adopted in March 2022).

The hub is being established by a specialist team of climate change and sustainability experts, led by Dr. Parin Rafiei-Thompson and Dr. Sarah Anderson.

A new hub for collaborative climate innovation, Climate Connect Aotearoa brings together organisations and individuals to develop, test and scale the solutions needed to ensure we reduce emissions in line with global agreements - solutions that will help all of us to adapt and thrive in the face of climate change.

“The issues caused by climate change can only be solved as a collective,” says Rafiei-Thompson. “We need government in the room because they set direction, policy and regulations; academia provides research, new thinking and hard data; industry will drive innovation and implement solutions; the voice of our rangatahi or young people is essential for intergenerational equity; and we need to engage with mana whenua as our partners because of the knowledge systems and foundational values and principles required to make lasting change.”

The hub has four priority sectors: energy, transport, food and the built environment. These sectors were identified by Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri and its precursors as having the largest impact but also being amongst the most vulnerable. They affect the lives of all Aucklanders.

“People often talk about climate change as an environmental issue as if it is separate to us, but it's about much more than that. It's about the environment, economy, our health, our culture and the way we live. It’s hugely complex and touches everything and everyone.”

Dr. Sarah Anderson, Programme Director at Climate Connect Aotearoa 

Climate Connect Aotearoa has the following goals: 

  • Connect and grow the climate innovation ecosystem, building partnerships within and across sectors and value chains;  
  • Connect climate change challenges to scalable solutions; 
  • Build system-wide knowledge and capacity, for innovation and action; 
  • Create a place for people to come together with space to innovate. 

Around the world, specialised innovation precincts or hubs that are supported by cities and regions are used to spark public-private collaboration and innovation. Climate Connect Aotearoa is modelled on successful international centres such as Climate-Kic (Europe and Australia) and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI). 

There are great examples of innovative ‘change making’ organisations across Aotearoa, but the opportunity is to bring them all together to deliver system-wide transformation change.


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