Strategic environment

New Zealand faces a substantially more challenging and complex strategic environment than it has for decades.

Air force

The 2021 Defence Assessment sets out four interests that we are using as the basis for our policy review:

  • Secure and resilient at home;

  • A stable and secure region composed of sovereign and resilient states;

  • A strong international rules-based system; and

  • Strong international security partnerships and alliances.

We judge that the principal challenges to New Zealand’s security interests, now and over the coming decades, will be:

These challenges are playing out globally, including in New Zealand’s immediate neighbourhood (from Antarctica through to the South Pacific), with direct implications for New Zealand’s security and wellbeing.

Strategic competition and climate change, as well as the continuing impacts of COVID-19, intersect with, and are amplified by, a range of other sources of insecurity. To respond to these challenges, it is recommended that New Zealand’s defence policy be reviewed.

Related links

2021 Defence Assessment(external link)

2021 Minister’s Priorities for Defence(external link)

2021 Minister’s Principles for Defence(external link)

2018 Climate Crisis: Defence Readiness and Response(external link)

Strategic competition

New Zealand faces a world in which strategic competition is increasingly the background for states’ relationships.

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Climate change

The accelerating impacts of climate change are having fundamental effects on global security, and are being felt early and deeply in the Pacific.

Learn more