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Nelson Tasman Climate Forum

This week, the Nelson-Tasman region will take its first steps towards a cohesive, coordinated, community-led plan to tackle climate change.

In a national first, the Nelson-Tasman Climate Forum will unite local and central Government leaders with local climate activists and interested members of the community and invite them to confirm their commitment to taking action by signing a charter.

Forum co-chairs Julian Raine and Julie Nevin say they are delighted at the support the forum has received.

“The Forum is the first of its kind in Aotearoa and, with the support of both Nelson City Council and Tasman District Council, we can show New Zealand how communities can decide, together, how to respond to climate change," says Julie.

The Forum’s launch, on February 29 at Annesbrook Church, Stoke, from 1pm – 4pm, will be attended by Mayors Rachel Reese and Tim King, Minister for Climate Change James Shaw, climate youth leader Raven Maeder, Nelson City Council’s Climate Change Champion Chris Cameron and more than 200 people from the community.

The Forum’s charter will outline a shared understanding, commitment and goals for members - to work with urgency to rapidly reduce our contribution to global warming and protect our communities against its adverse impacts.

Zero Carbon Nelson Tasman member Jenny Easton, a key instigator of the project, says a diverse working group designed the Forum and charter over the past few months.

"We hope that the Forum will be a space for bringing the community together to create strategic action on climate change. The invitation to join is still open - and will always be open - and everyone is welcome."

The Forum will be the starting point for the creation of a draft regional climate strategy, identifying a vision and priorities for action.

Following the launch, members of the Forum will meet monthly to enact and refine the strategy.

The Forum was established with help from Nelson City Council, which allocated $30,000 to the establishment of a climate forum and a climate taskforce after it declared a climate emergency last year.

Mayor Rachel Reese says when she proposed the motion to declare a climate emergency, she was determined it would be more than symbolic.

“Declaring a climate emergency was just the start, now it needs to be backed by action. We’ve put a $500,000 reserve fund aside for climate change initiatives and collaboration with the community is vitally important.

“We are committed to developing an ambitious action plan that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, meets our Zero Carbon Bill targets and supports resilience within Council and our community. We’ve already started on the journey and look forward to broadening the conversation and developing further adaptation and response strategies.”

The Forum will also be attended by Chris Cameron, Nelson City Council’s new Climate Change Champion, who was appointed following the emergency declaration.

“We are excited to support and participate in this unique approach to community engagement on climate change. This is a chance for everyone to come and have a seat at the table with the two Councils and help design the appropriate responses.”

Tasman District Council Mayor Tim King said that in making the decision to sign the charter, the Council saw a regional response as important for the successful achievement of the Forum’s outcomes.

“We are looking forward to working with other councils, business, iwi and interest groups as we work to successfully meet the region’s obligations under the Zero Carbon Act.

“Using the Council’s current Climate Action Plan, developed during the last term, as a guide, we welcome the opportunity to contribute to a wider community conversation alongside our focus on adaptation and community resilience.”

The Forum will be modelled on the Nelson Biodiversity Forum, and its facilitator Peter Lawless will be lending it his expertise.

“I am looking forward to facilitating what I’m sure will be a fascinating discussion. We’ll be talking about all sorts of topics related to climate change that don’t come up in most climate strategies because they are pretty hot topics, like how to make sure everyone gets a fair deal through these changes.”

You can find out more about the Nelson Tasman Climate Forum and sign up to the launch event or the Forum itself at nelsontasmanclimateforum.org or email community@nelsontasmanclimateforum.org

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