Adapting to the consequences of climate change: Engaging with communities (Special Publication 2, 2016)
At the end of 2015 the UN COP 21 climate change summit reached an agreement to attempt to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2°C. This monumental pact is the first to commit all countries to cut carbon emissions.
As the BBC reported following the announcement, the chair of the group representing some of the world's poorest countries noted, "We are living in unprecedented times, which call for unprecedented measures."
Unprecedented is almost an understatement. It's good news for the planet, but as those of us working as coastal engineers, scientists, planners and policy-makers know we are still in a time of great change. While limiting the temperature rise may stem the tide, the consequences of climate change are already being felt around the world.
We are no different here in New Zealand - and we are starting to see that addressed. For example, in December 2015 the Greater Wellington Regional Council moved one step closer with its flood protection plan to buy out 75 property owners in a bid to strengthen stopbanks lining the Hutt River - a move precipitated by the effects of climate change.
These types of planning decisions are going to need to become much more commonplace, but that doesn't make them any easier. As the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment wrote in her November 2015 report Preparing New Zealand for rising seas: Certainty and Uncertainty:
"Homes are much more than financial equity. Such zoning and any regulations that follow must be based on a fair process and technical assessments that are both rigorous and transparent.
"While these principles should hold for planning for any hazards under the Resource Management Act, planning for sea level rise is outside our experience - it is terra incognita."
For those of us who work as coastal professionals this significant shift means we need to engage with communities in new ways - we need to develop integrated planning practices that ensure communities are not only informed, but also contributing to coastal planning and decision-making.
In this New Zealand Coastal Society special publication we hope to further the discussion on engaging with communities. The publication is divided into three sections:
· Section 1 is an overview of the national landscape in addressing the consequences of climate change;
· Section 2 is a discussion on engaging with communities;
· Section 3 is a look at how Coastcare groups and communities are addressing climate change.
Much of the information in this publication is based on presentations that were given at the 2015 Australasian Coasts and Ports conference that was held in Auckland last September. I would like to recognise and thank our colleagues in New Zealand, Australia and other parts of the world who shared their experiences and learnings on adapting to climate change at the conference - they started an important conversation that we at the New Zealand Coastal Society feel it is essential to continue.
The following authors contributed to this special publication: Jamie Boyle, Robin Britton, Rob Bell, Bronwen Gibberd, Angus Gordon, , Maurice Hoban, Paul Klinac, Michelle Lewis, Rick Liefting, Cushla Loomb, Sam Morgan, Emily O'Donnell, Shane Orchard, Peter Quilter, Richard Reinen-Hamill, Helen Rouse, Wendy Saunders, Ben Sheeran, Tom Shand, Scott Stephens, Sjoerd van Ballegooy and Ian Wright.