In New Zealand natural hazards are part of everyday life with an ever-present risk of earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions. Responses to these high impact, low probability events are well established and generally supported by communities who accept the risks. However, it is the slower onset hazards, including climate change, sea level rise and coastal erosion, that are proving harder to deal with. These hazards carry a higher probability, but the slow onset has led to indecision, deferment of action, and historically event driven responses over a short-term planning horizon.
In response to this the NZ Ministry for the Environment released an update to its Coastal Hazards and Climate Change Guidance for Local Government in 2018. This guidance was centred around an iterative 10-step decision cycle framework including key steps of understanding what is happening now, what matters most, what we can do about, how we can implement the strategy and how is it working. The guidance had a key focus on dealing with uncertainty in both the future processes and importantly climate change scenarios, but also in community objectives and values. Central to this was a focus on dynamic adaptive planning over a longer-term horizon, allowing for consideration of a range of pathways with triggers used to guide decision points and pathway change.
The population density in NZ is lower than many other developed countries, but with 65% of population living within 5km of the coast. This often results in high-risk areas having a limited number of assets, which ultimately has a bearing on the affordability of mitigation options, what is considered a reasonable response, and raises the question of who pays. The presentation will discuss the general principals of this guidance and present specific case studies (including the resident who woke up to Jellyfish in their lounge) where the various steps have been implemented together with key learnings from these and recommendations for practitioners.
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