First-term regional councillor Hinewai Ormsby has been appointed chair of the Hawke's Bay Regional Council environment and integrated catchments committee.
One of the key roles of the committee was in managing the council's core environmental activities.
This includes climate change policy, environmental performance trends and State of the Environment environmental monitoring and reviewing responses to emerging and significant environmental issues.
Ormsby, who is the only female on council, said her vision was to see a greater extension of the regional parks network and restoration along the region's waterways and wetlands - all of which were key drivers in her decision to take up the role.
"Hawke's Bay's current and future environment will need all the help we can provide, and the complex nature of this challenge excites me," she said.
"There is no avoiding the fast-approaching impacts of climate change that stare us right in the eye.
"This is the most tremendous challenge of all and if we don't address and reduce our own carbon footprint, we pass those burdens on to our children."
The regional council needs to "lead our region in this space" which they are working on, she said.
The council has set a target for the region to be carbon neutral by 2050, aligning with the nation's target.
Ormsby said her background in the environmental space as well as her knowledge of tikanga Māori, leadership qualities and high representational mandate from voters contributed to her election as chair.
Formerly a science teacher, she has been leading native tree planting days with the next one this Sunday in Eskdale where a group will be planting 1500 native trees along the Whareponga Stream.
"There is a lot to believe in when you do the mahi to make a physical difference in protecting and restoring our environment, there are many different ways to lead," she said.
Ormsby takes over from councillor Rick Barker who is now deputy chair of the committee. She thanked him for his nomination to elect her as the new chairperson.
"He has handed the rākau over, and he's now my wing man," she said.
At the meeting on Wednesday the council also adopted the 2020-2021 Annual Plan which has a climate-smart recovery.
Council chairman Rex Graham endorsed this year's plan saying it maintains delivery of the regional council's environmental work, with a stronger focus on climate change and supporting the Bay's economy.
"After listening to our regional community, we've kept rates revenue for this year at zero per cent, and set aside $1 million for recovery-related projects."
The 2020-21 Annual Plan covers the period of July 1 2020 until June 30 2021 and continues the direction set by the 2018-28 Long Term Plan.