|dc.description.abstract||The anticipated effects of climate change in Aotearoa New Zealand include an increased incidence of high temperatures, frequency of extreme daily rainfalls, potential increase in strong winds, and a decrease in frost and average snow cover (MfE, 2018). A culmination of such factors is likely to result in an increase in frequency and severity of flood events, although impacts are expected to differ across the country.
With the majority of the New Zealand population living in close proximity to coasts and rivers, there is a significant number of communities susceptible to flood hazards. However, despite the impact that increased flood events may have for the New Zealand population, not everyone is equally engaged with what climate change means, what the impacts may be, or what action may be necessary as a result (PCE, 2015). This research investigates how the level of resilience and adaptive capacity can be increased for communities exposed to increased flood events.
The communities living on the Taieri Plain in Dunedin have experienced extensive flooding on several occasions over recent years, and the likelihood of future flood events continues to grow as a consequence of climate change and increased rainfall within the river catchment. In the face of these pressures, adaptation provides an avenue to deal with the social, economic and environmental challenges communities and local authorities face. There is no single approach to adaptation, nor an ‘optimum’ method of adapting, rather it is dependent on the context and how people perceive the outcomes of successful adaptation. Because of this, and because of the localised nature of climate change effects and the community’s capacity to deal with them, effective engagement is a crucial element of any successful adaptive response.
Through qualitative research methods, including in-depth interviews with residents, agencies, and local authority staff, field observations, and policy analysis, this research identifies a set of system characteristics that enhance the resilience of a community and its capacity to adapt. Strengthening these characteristics enables the community to live with hazards, such as flooding, in a way that is acceptable to them (Nelson et al., 2007). Such characteristics for building adaptive capacity include keeping communities informed; encouraging connections and relationships; supporting self-organisation; providing resources; and ensuring that systems are flexible enough to enable the development and maintenance of effective adaptive responses within the localised context. Notably, this research argues that these activities can, and should, be undertaken by local authorities in order to effectively plan for and enable adaptation within exposed communities.||