Report highlights: Managing climate risks to assets and services

What the report is about

This report assessed how effectively the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) and NSW Treasury have supported state agencies to manage climate risks to their assets and services.

Climate risks that can impact on state agencies' assets and services include flooding, bushfires, and extreme temperatures. Impacts can include damage to transport, communications and energy infrastructure, increases in hospital admissions, and making social housing or school buildings unsuitable.

NSW Treasury estimates these risks could have significant costs.

What we found

DPIE and NSW Treasury’s support to agencies to manage climate risks to their assets and services has been insufficient.

In 2021, key agencies with critical assets and services have not conducted climate risk assessments, and most lack adaptation plans.

DPIE has not delivered on the NSW Government commitment to develop a state-wide climate change adaptation action plan. This was to be complete in 2017.

There is also no adaptation strategy for the state. These have been released in all other Australian jurisdictions. The NSW Government’s draft strategic plan for its Climate Change Fund was also never finalised.

DPIE’s approach to developing climate projections is robust, but it hasn’t effectively educated agencies in how to use this information to assess climate risk.

NSW Treasury did not consistently apply dedicated resourcing to support agencies' climate risk management until late 2019.

In March 2021, DPIE and NSW Treasury released the Climate Risk Ready NSW Guide and Course. These are designed to improve support to agencies.

What we recommended

DPIE and NSW Treasury should, in partnership:

  • enhance the coordination of climate risk management across agencies
  • implement climate risk management across their clusters.

DPIE should:

  • update information and strengthen education to agencies, and monitor progress
  • review relevant land-use planning, development and building guidance
  • deliver a climate change adaptation action plan for the state.

NSW Treasury should:

  • strengthen climate risk-related guidance to agencies
  • coordinate guidance on resilience in infrastructure planning
  • review how climate risks have been assured in agencies’ asset management plans.

Fast facts

4 years

between commitments in the NSW Climate Change Policy Framework, and DPIE and NSW Treasury producing key supports to agencies for climate risk management.


Value of physical assets held by nine NSW Government entities we examined that have not completed climate risk assessments.

Low capability to do climate risk assessment has been found across state agencies. The total value of NSW Government physical assets is $365 billion, as at 30 June 2020.


NSW Treasury’s estimates of the annual fiscal and economic costs associated with natural disasters will triple by 2060–61.

Further information

Please contact Ian Goodwin, Deputy Auditor-General on 9275 7347 or by email.