Planning for Sea Level Rise Adaptation in Coastal Dunedin
Sea level rise (SLR) is leading to many social, environmental and financial implications for low-lying coastal communities across the globe. For Aotearoa New Zealand, the impending threat of SLR and the long-term challenges it will bring will significantly impact the entire country. Adaptation provides a method to cope with the challenges of SLR for communities and local authorities. However, adaptation has been difficult due to a number of reasons, including: ambiguity of what constitutes “successful adaptation” and effective community engagement within adaptation, varying degrees of understanding of the effects of SLR, and varying capacities of communities and local government authorities to deal with the effects of SLR.This study aims to explore how local authorities and small coastal communities can successfully adapt to accelerating SLR. Qualitative research methods are used to explore the case studies of two small coastal communities in Dunedin, Otago (Aramoana, and Long Beach). Methods employed include extensive literature and policy review, as well as interviews with community members, relevant agencies and local authority staff.The findings are threefold: firstly, it is found that stakeholders have mixed views on the current adaptive responses. There is a common perception that national level responses are weak, and the the blurred roles and responsibilities for Regional Council and Territorial Council are a significant barrier to effective adaptation. Community informants called for adaptive responses to focus on providing greater support to facilitate their mobilisation and specific needs.Secondly, there are barriers to effective engagement with legislated forms of public consultation. These being, lack of resourcing, the nature of the climate change issues, participant burn-out and a lack of two-way conversations. The findings suggest the role of community engagement in adaptation planning must expand to become a tool for: Providing information about climate change impacts and responses; allowing a communication channel for community members to share their knowledge and experiences with each other and council; Achieving shared community aspirations.Thirdly, responses in Aramoana and Long Beach should focus on strengthening community characteristics that facilitate resilience building and enhance adaptive capacity overall. The community characteristics highlighted were social capital, self-organisation, flexibility, and local knowledge. Strengthening these characteristics will enhance their ability to not only respond to SLR, but also embrace these changes and to use them to create future opportunities for the communities (Heidkamp & Morrissey, 2018; Nelson, Adger, & Brown, 2007).Overall, to address the lack of enthusiasm towards current adaptive actions, difficulties experienced with formalised engagement processes, and to facilitate positive resilience building characteristics, the findings suggest implementing a community-based adaptation approach that focusses on both adaptation and development, while benefiting from existing local resources.
Advisor: Alam, Ashraful
Degree Name: Master of Planning
Degree Discipline: School of Geography
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: sea level rise; adaptation; coastal planning
Research Type: Thesis