Wellington’s Bloomberg Global Mayors Challenge Winning Project

The Council is using the US$1 million of prize money to develop innovative digital community engagement tools to engage and educate residents about localised climate impacts and options for adaptation.

Our challenge

Te-Whanganui-a-Tara will be increasingly exposed to climate change impacts including sea level rise, storm surges, flooding and slips.

Alison Howard, Manager Climate Change Response says as a coastal city highly exposed to climate change impacts and with few options for relocating infrastructure, businesses and homes, it’s critical we enable evidence-based climate adaptation decisions in the next two to three years to respond to the climate and ecological emergencies declared by Council. 

“We need new tools and engagement methods that allow everyone to understand the impacts, and to participate in co-creating a climate-resilient city." 

The winning innovative concept

In 2022 Council won the prestigious Bloomberg Mayors Challenge, a global competition recognising the boldest and most ambitious urban innovations that help cities tackle global issues including climate change.

The US$1million prize money will be spent over three years (July 2022 – July 2025) to co-create interactive digital experiences to engage and educate residents about localised climate impacts and adaptation.

The project leverages the powerful data-driven visual storytelling capability of the Digital City Model to support the Council’s Climate Adaptation Community Engagement Roadmap and which aligns with Council’s Te Atakura - First to Zero climate change strategy.

We are developing our Wellington city 3D model in the open-source gaming engine, Unreal, which will allow other cities to access and replicate our concept in their own context.

Where are we now?

A six-month design phase was completed in October, led by local digital design agency Springload. This human-centred process involved over 500 members of the public through workshops, online testing, and usability testing. This process identified the features and functionality people most desired to see in a digital experience and used to build a prototype. 

Insights from the design process will continue to inform the development of the digital experience, for public release in 2024.


Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge is a global competition designed to spark innovative ideas for improving cities, and the lives of people living in them.

This challenge was entered by over 600 cities worldwide and recognises the boldest and most ambitious urban innovations that address current issues including climate and the environment.

Only 15 cities worldwide were selected as overall winners and Wellington was the only New Zealand city to take out a top prize.

The innovative approach to utilising this technology to breaking down barriers to accessing information has been recognised nationally and internationally:

  • ALGIM project of the year 2023 for Web/Digital/Comms
  • GIMS International & LOLA Global award Project of the year 2023
  • Seoul Smart City “Tech Innovacity” winner 2023

Contact us

If you need more information about this project please contact Pax Austin, Project Manager.
Email: pax.austin@wcc.govt.nz