Professor Jean Palutikof, NCCARF Director
Planning for coastal climate change and sea-level rise: what do decision-makers need?
In preparation for construction of the Coastal Climate Risk Management Tool (a major deliverable for Phase 2 – see our Project Plan available from our website
), we are carrying out an intensive program of stakeholder consultation, through workshops and an online survey. Thank you to everyone who has participated. I thought in this newsletter you might be interested to know about some of the things we learned from the online survey.
Around 300 people completed the survey, and around three-quarters are potential end users of NCCARF products: around half (44%) work in government, and a quarter in NGOs and the private sector. The remainder were researchers or students. Because NCCARF Phase 2 focuses on coastal adaptation, the on-line survey placed the emphasis on Australia’s coasts.
Below, I show you the answers we got to three questions:
- What are the most important impacts resulting from climate change and sea-level rise that you believe coastal organisations must address?
- What do you think are the greatest challenges for organisations responsible for managing and adapting to these impacts?
- What knowledge gaps prevent the best possible decisions being made about present and future climate-related risks?
For each question, people were given a list of possible answers and asked to choose the three most important to them.
For Question 1
, respondents placed an emphasis on:
- storm surge and inundation, and
- impacts on the natural environment.
Increases in extreme events ran a close third. However, looking into respondents’ backgrounds, whereas all groups highlighted storm surge and inundation and increased risk of extreme events, this was not the case for risks to the natural environment. More than half of state and federal government respondents selected impacts on the natural environment, but only a quarter of business/industry respondents and 36% of consultants.
For Question 2
, we asked respondents about challenges to adaptation action. Two clear, and related, winners emerged:
- engaging with the community, and
- conflict between decision-makers and coastal residents.
A clear challenge, particularly for local and state government, is effective community engagement – over half of respondents in these two categories selected this option. Local government respondents also identified issues around legal liability.
For Question 3
, we asked people to tell us about knowledge gaps. Management options, local climate change, and law, planning and regulation came out on top.
Federal government employees were the only group to consider present-day risks from climate extremes to be an important gap. The present-day risk of flooding and engineering solutions were not seen to be knowledge gaps.
A full discussion of the feedback from stakeholders can be found in our Analysis of End User Needs
report, which should appear on the NCCARF website shortly. This feedback will inform the next activities of NCCARF in Phase 2, which are to plan and begin development of the Coastal Climate Risk Management Tool.