AI Forum to Help NZ Climate Change Issues

Madeline Newman

According to AI Forum NZ executive director Madeline Newman, it is no longer enough to leave the impacts of climate change and declining biodiversity to chance. The cost of inaction is rising exponentially, and AI can help uncover hidden patterns that may help us answer some of our biggest challenges.

While it is encouraging to see one in five organisations using AI effectively in New Zealand, only seven percent are engaging in core practices supporting widespread AI adoption and 17 percent are not considering AI at all, according to a recent survey.

“The majority of Kiwi companies are still in initial trial stages with just over one third taking their first steps in building AI capability. Most of these have run ad hoc pilots or applied AI to a single business process, which is a good cost-effective start in understanding how and where to make the best use of AI in business.

“The AI Forum is a rich source of expertise and advice for organisations thinking about their AI journey and our AI for the environment report is an example of that in action,” Newman said.

“The AI Forum Te Kāhui Atamai Iahiko o Aotearoa sees the potential for AI to contribute to environmental outcomes for Aotearoa. AI can be used to increase the understanding of and assist with the development of solutions to many of the environmental challenges facing New Zealand and the world.”

The AI for the environment report is focused on five key environmental outcomes for Aotearoa where AI can deliver meaningful solutions from both modern science and matauranga Māori perspectives:

  • Preserving and bolstering biodiversity, including protection of native plants, animals and ecosystems in land, freshwater and marine environments
  • Understanding the impacts of changing land use, including changes to vegetation across the country and the use of land in urban areas
  • Reducing pollution from our activities, including substances or kinds of energy (noise, light, heat) that are harmful to the environment
  • Protecting our freshwater and marine resources, including how we fish and the taking of water from waterways for various purposes
  • Climate change mitigation, including reducing greenhouse emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change for Aotearoa

“Things are happening. TAIAO, a University of Waikato led programme, is advancing state-of-the-art machine learning methods tailored to deal with large scale New Zealand environmental data.

“We have exceptional expertise in AI and environmental science in New Zealand. Our report, which will be launched at TechWeek22, and the follow-on work we are planning, show Aotearoa leading the way in both thought leadership and action.”

The AI Forum is part of the NZTech Alliance and is a not for profit working with the government on the development of a national strategy for New Zealand.