An investigation of coastal climate change risk assessment practice in Australia

Tonmoy, Fahim Nawroz, Wainwright, David, Verdon-Kidd, Danielle C. and Rissik, David (2018) An investigation of coastal climate change risk assessment practice in Australia. Environmental Science and Policy, 80 9-20. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2017.11.003

Author Tonmoy, Fahim Nawroz
Wainwright, David
Verdon-Kidd, Danielle C.
Rissik, David
Title An investigation of coastal climate change risk assessment practice in Australia
Journal name Environmental Science and Policy   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1873-6416
Publication date 2018-02-01
Year available 2018
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.envsci.2017.11.003
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 80
Start page 9
End page 20
Total pages 12
Place of publication New York, NY, United States
Publisher Elsevier
Language eng
Abstract Local government organisations in coastal Australia have historically commissioned studies aimed at understanding risks in their locality to future sea level rise as a starting point for developing adaptation strategies to climate change. Therefore, the success of the overall adaptation activities of local government are strongly influenced by the way those initial risk studies are scoped and conducted, and how the outputs of those studies underpin subsequent adaptation planning activities within the organization. Mainstreaming of adaptation planning activities within local government is critical in terms of getting stakeholder support and required resources for its implementation. This paper analyses a sample of these coastal risk assessment studies across seven states and territories in Australia, with an aim to critically investigate the current state of practice among coastal local governments. First, we develop a typology of studies that have been undertaken by or for practitioners to understand coastal climate change risks, and discuss the applicability of the studies within the policy making context of local government. Second, we identify a set of sample studies from the 'grey literature' through a systematic process and investigate to what extent they adhere to best practice risk management guidelines and principles, such as IS031000. Third, we interview stakeholders from top performing studies to identify how/if the risk studies helped their organization in progressing their adaptation planning. We find that there is a significant inconsistency among terminologies in the coastal climate change risk assessment unpublished literature as studies use "risk", vulnerability" and "hazard" concepts interchangeably despite their separate objectives and aims. Most studies perform poorly in evaluating risk against broader organizational criteria. Subsequently, it is difficult to integrate the findings of such studies into a broader organizational risk register, limiting opportunities for identified coastal climate change risks to be integrated into councils' long-term strategic decision making. Conversely, the follow up interviews of studies that performed well in scoping and consultation in our assessment demonstrate that these aspects were beneficial to stakeholders in terms of informing adaptation planning. Importantly, the findings presented in this paper confirm the need for a consistent risk assessment approach for local councils in the coastal zone to underpin successful adaptation planning. This is a critical issue, not only for Australia, but for local government organisations globally given that sea level rise is a projected threat for all populated coastal regions worldwide.
Keyword Adaptation
Climate change
Coastal hazard
Coastal management
Risk assessment
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Civil Engineering Publications
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Created: Fri, 02 Feb 2018, 12:29:33 EST