To achieve the Auckland we want by 2050 we must address the three most important challenges of high population growth, ensuring prosperity is shared amongst all Aucklanders, and arresting and reversing environmental degradation.
There are strong connections between each of these challenges. They remain as relevant as when the plan was first adopted.
However, new events (for example, the COVID-19 pandemic), growing awareness of the urgency of existing issues (for example, the climate emergency, inequity, mental health), and geopolitical tensions, have all contributed to greater uncertainty.
This means we need to look differently at the challenges and outcomes we seek for Auckland.
Key Challenge 1: Population growth and its implications
More than 1.7 million people live in Auckland already. Over the next 30 years, this could increase by another 650,000 people to reach 2.3 million.
Auckland's population growth is driven by both natural growth, meaning more births than deaths, and migration from overseas and from other parts of New Zealand. Natural growth is more easily planned for over the long-term, while changes in immigration patterns often require a more immediate response.
There has been a decrease in net migration into Auckland from other parts of the country in recent years. Border closures during the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a change in the strong international migration of the last 20 years. Despite this, Auckland must continue to plan for that growth.
The rate and speed of Auckland's population growth puts pressure on our communities, our environment, our housing and our roads. It means increasing demand for space, infrastructure and services.
We need a plan for where people will live and how they will move around Auckland.
The scale of investment required to respond to and support this growth is significant. While population growth results in a larger rating base, the amount of investment needed remains a challenge if we rely on traditional funding sources only.
The Development Strategy and 30-year Infrastructure Strategy [PDF 9MB] (updated in 2021) address the prioritisation, sequencing and funding of essential infrastructure.
The National Policy Statement on Urban Development (2020) requires the preparation of a new Future Development Strategy. This will feature new requirements to provide sufficient development capacity to meet housing and business land demand over the short, medium and long term.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and avoiding locations impacted by climate change will be key considerations.
Key Challenge 2: Sharing prosperity with all Aucklanders
Auckland's success is dependent on how well Auckland's prosperity is shared.
Many Aucklanders are prosperous and have high living standards, yet there are significant levels of socio-economic deprivation, often in distinct geographic areas. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing inequities and had negative impacts on specific groups.
This is a major issue. Income, employment, health and education outcomes are different in various parts of Auckland, and there are distinct patterns across broad ethnic and age groups.
In part this is due to structural discrimination, meaning the intentional or unintentional practices and behaviours that prevent some people from succeeding or even participating in employment or society.
It is also due to unequal access to education and employment opportunities, along with high and often unaffordable housing costs.
Secure and healthy housing is associated with benefits (for example, better health and education outcomes) not available to those living in short-term or unhealthy homes.
Typically home ownership is associated with greater housing security and better quality housing.
The significant increase in the cost of houses in Auckland has resulted in declining home ownership and an increasing amount of people renting.
For all Aucklanders to fully prosper it is critical that everyone has access to affordable, good-quality housing, whether they own or rent.
Climate change will affect everyone differently, and our ability to adapt depends on local impacts and individual circumstances.
Different impacts will be determined by:
- socio-economic differences
- where people live
- the access they have to services and workplaces
- differences in people’s jobs (for example, whether their job is indoors or outdoors)
- differences in accessibility needs.
We need to make sure that we are not leaving anyone behind in our transition to a low-carbon and resilient region.
At the same time we also need to recognise the benefits that transition to a low-carbon region brings, particularly the benefits of a low-carbon transport system.
An equitable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will involve identifying and responding to communities that have been most impacted as well as those that have less capability to recover or to improve their outcomes.
As Auckland continues to grow, we need to ensure that all Aucklanders can benefit from the social and economic prosperity that growth brings and can participate in and enjoy community and civic life.
Key challenge 3: Reducing environmental degradation
Much of Auckland's appeal is based on the natural environment.
Auckland's significant features include harbours, beaches, lakes, coastline, maunga, rain-forest clad ranges, and the Hauraki Gulf islands.
They are part of our cultural heritage and are an important part of Auckland's identity. But they are vulnerable to degradation from the impacts of human activities.
Despite regulation and considerable effort, Auckland's environment continues to be affected by past decisions, Auckland's rapid growth and development, as well as emerging threats such as climate change.
The latest report on the health of Auckland's natural environment [PDF 18.8MB] shows that air quality is generally good with some exceptions.
Some minor improvements in water quality have been observed in some places, although these are mostly small, slow and are not occurring region-wide.
Marine and freshwater environments, continue to be polluted by sediments and contaminants arising from development, building and industrial activities.
Our lifestyles, and how we manage growth and development, will determine whether the natural environment endures and if future Aucklanders can enjoy the environmental benefits we cherish today.
Two specific issues will continue to have the biggest effect on our environment:
The effects of climate change
Auckland is exposed to a range of climate change impacts, such as sea level rise and more frequent extreme weather events. Global and local records for rainfall and temperature are already being surpassed on a regular basis.
These impacts present challenges for Auckland, such as:
- damage to ecosystems, our infrastructure and our housing as a result of changing climate conditions leading to issues such as sea level rise, and more frequent extreme weather events
- direct impacts on economic productivity, and changes in market demand for some goods and services
- unequal distribution of impacts on Aucklanders, with those such as the elderly, the very young, those living in poverty or with chronic health issues more likely to be negatively affected.