Climate Change Adaptation Strategies – a national overview and lessons learnt

Climate Change Adaptation Strategies – a national overview and lessons learnt

The Annual Coastal Councils Conference theme for 2019 is Coastal Challenges – Smarter Solutions.


Astrid Stuer, Joanna Garcia-Webb and Elise Lawry


Australians place a high value on the coastline, which is used extensively for recreational and commercial purposes. Processes affecting the coastal zone are multiple and complex. The potential impacts of climate change will place increased pressure on the coastal zone and threaten public infrastructure and assets, private property, foreshore reserves and natural ecosystems.

Coastal adaptation planning is recognised as best practice to prepare for areas at risk of being affected by coastal hazards. Having a coastal foreshore reserve is considered the best practise in preparation for climate change as this allows for coastal processes to occur naturally without impacting on life and assets. However, most inhabited coastal areas are not protected by a natural buffer such as a reserve and coastal vulnerability assessments are recommended in order to prepare for climate change impacts on assets. Following this, a risk mitigation approach to planning identifies the hazards located within the council area and prioritises adaptive measures.

This paper presents a review of the approaches to assessing coastal hazard vulnerability, risk identification and adaptive planning across Australia: in Western Australia, the process is Coastal Hazard Risk Management and Adaptation Planning (CHRMAP); Queensland applies the Coastal Hazard Adaptation Strategy (CHAS); South Australia follows the Climate Adaptation Planning Guidelines; Victoria the Victorian Coastal Hazards Guide provides the framework for coastal risk assessments, and in New South Wales it is the Coastal Management Plan. All of these are aimed to prepare coastal communities for climate change. During the development of the plans, stakeholder communication with local communities is of utmost importance.

Climate Change Adaptation Strategies across Australia

While all state programs are developed for a similar purpose, to plan and prepare for climate change through local government implementation, they also all have their differences which can lead to challenges. In some states, guidelines are not precise enough which results in varying methodologies applied over different councils. In these instances, it would be more efficient to prepare stricter guidelines to enable uniform assessment across the whole state. At other times, gap analysis included in the very early phases of the program are not detailed enough, or gaps cannot realistically be filled in the available time, which results in difficulties and increased uncertainties in predicted hazards. In all states, funding of the mitigation strategies is a hot topic.

This paper explores the advantages and disadvantages of the different programs and what we can learn from each.

If you can’t make the conference and would like to know more about this presentation or climate change adaptation strategies, please contact Astrid on 07 3105 1460.

Astrid Stuer - climate change adaptation


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