Judy Lawrence

Dr Judy Lawrence profile picture

Senior Research Fellow Climate Change Research Institute, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences

Research interests

Climate Change, uncertainty, decisionmaking and adaptation


PhD, Victoria University of Wellington (2015)
The adequacy of institutional frameworks and practice for climate change adaptation decision making.

The ability of decision makers to respond to climate change impacts such as sea-level rise and increased flooding is challenged by uncertainty about scale, timing and dynamic changes. Governance and regulatory frameworks for decision making need to give enough certainty for decisions in the present, without creating undue risks and liabilities for the near and long-term. Judy Lawrence’s research analyses the adequacy of the decision frameworks and practices for addressing these constraints and offers new insights for identifying and addressing barriers, enablers and entry points for robust and flexible decisions, whatever the outcomes.

MA (Hons) (Geomorphology) by thesis, Victoria University of Wellington (1976); BA (Hons) (Geography), Victoria University of Wellington (1973); Soil Conservation Certificate (1979); Certificate of Proiciency in Planning Law, Victoria University of Wellington (1981);

Publications from 2001 - Now


Judy is Senior Research Fellow at the Climate Change Research Institute. Currently she leads two Deep South Challenge projects one on Cascading Impacts with NIWA and Landcare (June 2018); and another on Decision-making tools for managing uncertainty (signals triggers and scenarios) with NIWA, Landcare Research and Deltares colleagues (June 2019). Judy also contributes to two Resilience Science Challenge projects, The Living Edge on coastal hazard and sea level rise planning, and Resilience Governance (June 2019).

Judy is currently Co-Chair of the Climate Change Adaptation Technical Working Group providing advice to the Minister of Climate Change Issues on a stocktake of adaptation action and on options for an economy wide plan for adaptation in New Zealand in response to the Paris Agreement. Judy also contributed to the revision of the Ministry for the Environment Coastal hazards and climate change guidance ( forthcoming).

Previously Judy lead the MBIE funded research on Climate Impacts and Implications (October 2012- September 2016)Research Aim 4 Enhancing Capacity and Increasing Coordination to Support Decision-making Judy undertook a partnership project between Deltares in the Netherlands (Dr Marjolijn Haasnoot), funded by CCRI and a number of New Zealand local authorities and Ministry for the Environment to tailor a decision making simulation game for NZ rivers and coastal settings as part of testing the Dynamic Adaptive Policy Pathways approach for planning for flexible yet robust futures under a range of climate change scenarios.

Judy also contributed to research with local and central government stakeholders, as part of Objective 2 Local Government Case studies, of the MBIE funded and CCRI led research programme on Community Vulnerability, Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Change October 2009- September 2012. She has also undertaken a number of outreach activities like the Climate Futures Forum held in March 2011 and worked in partnership with Tasman District and Nelson City Councils, funded by an Envirolink grant Developing Adaptive Risk Management for our Changing Climate.

Judy is Director of PSConsulting Ltd, a strategy and policy consultancy in science, climate change and on related governance and institutional issues. This followed a career in the public service as Director of the NZ Climate Change Office at the Ministry for the Environment, Chief Executive of the Ministry of Women's Affairs, senior manager at the Ministry for the Environment, and at the Ministry of Works and Development working on flood risk, other natural hazard issues and as a soil and land management practitioner. She has also worked for the NZ Dairy Research Institute, as a consultant to the OECD on sustainable development and was Convenor of National Science Strategy Committee for Climate Change from 1994-2002. Judy was the Government Senior Sabbatical Fellow in 1996 and undertook study at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and subsequently at the Harvard Kennedy School of Public Policy on leading and managing change and negotiation and influencing strategies.

Research interests

  • the use of climate change science in public policy and decision-making
  • institutional and regulatory design for managing changing and dynamic climate risk
  • the governance of climate change adaptation at multiple scales
  • use of simulation games in decision making under conditions of uncertainty and dynamic change
  • application of dynamic adaptive policy pathways planning.