Systems Approach to Regional Climate Change Adaptation Strategies in Metropolises

Introduction

The Systems Approach to Regional Climate Change Adaptation Strategies in Metropolises project developed and tested an integrated, systems approach to assisting the 15 SCCG Member Councils in assessing their vulnerability to climate change and the barriers and opportunities associated with adaptation at the Local Government scale. The project also seeked to demonstrate the value of coordinated regional-scale responses to climate vulnerability through Local Government cooperation. The SCCG partnered with CSIRO’s Climate Adaptation Flagship and working in collaboration with the University of the Sunshine Coast, as part of the Australian Government Department of Climate Change (DCC) National Climate Change Adaptation Program.

Aim and Objectives

The aim of the project is to develop and trial a method for a systems approach to regional climate change adaptation strategies in large urban areas through:

  • Developing and testing an integrated (systems) method to generate information about the likely impacts of climate change and feasible adaptation strategies in the Sydney region.
  • Deepening the understanding of the likely impacts of climate change and resulting adaptation options in the Sydney region through integration of existing models, generation of new knowledge where there are significant gaps, scenario analysis, an analysis of adaptive capacity, and assessment of demonstration projects.
  • Assessing the transferability of the integrated (systems) method to other large urban areas.
  • Improve the capacity of councils to respond and adapt to climate change.
Outcomes / Outputs

The project will benefit SCCG Member Councils in the Sydney region and other Councils in large urban areas by:

  • Generating information about the likely impacts of climate change and feasible adaptation strategies in the Sydney region;
  • Deepening the understanding of the likely impacts of climate change through the identification of the barriers and opportunities to adapting to the impacts of climate change;
  • Building the capacity of stakeholders by making recommendations and identifying key interventions for future management decisions;
  • Working with stakeholders to build adaptation strategies into institutional structures and processes.

 

Monitoring, Evaluating and Reporting Climate Change Adaptation in Local Government

Aim and Objectives

The research is based on the ‘Systems Approach in Metropolises’ project and aims to explore opportunities for mainstreaming adaptation through monitoring, evaluation and reporting. The ‘Systems Approach in Metropolises’ project conducted by the SCCG in collaboration with the CSIRO and the University of the Sunshine Coast has shown that adaptation activities in SCCG Member Councils are currently not being systematically evaluated. Yet doing so could provide an opportunity for mutual learning and help spreading best practices. It would also assist stock taking by the state government as well as providing a helpful tool for community reporting. Thus following the recommendations of the ‘Systems Approach’ project this research will explore ways in collaboration with Councils to monitor, evaluate and report on adaptation progress.

The major benefits of this Masters research include:

  • Better understanding of how Councils approach monitoring & reporting of adaptation measures;
  • Opportunities for learning among the SCCG Member Councils and from Councils of other jurisdictions;
  • Identification of best practises in mainstreaming adaptation; and
  • Providing a provision of research so to enable development of a climate change adaptation monitoring framework for local government and others.

For more information contact Timo Leiter, Institute of Environmental Studies, University of NSW: Timo.Leiter@gmx.de

Summerama: Summer Activities Program

Summerama is a community activities program run every year during January, designed to enhance community awareness and increase the community’s interaction and connection with Sydney’s coast through fun, family orientated coastal activities.

http://www.sydneycoastalcouncils.com.au/summerama/

Prioritising Coastal Adaptation and Development Options for Local Government Project

Managing the risks posed by climate change to coastal communities is a challenge faced internationally. Sydney is particularly vulnerable, with more than 7,000 properties at risk from coastal hazards. While much of the literature relevant to coastal adaptation has focused on assessing the vulnerability of coastal communities, there is limited guidance for Local Government on the appraisal of specific adaptation options.

Prioritising Coastal Adaptation Development Options for Local Government addresses this need for guidance, via a participatory, multi-criteria analysis (MCA) of coastal adaptation options for Local Government.

The project is now complete and was launched on 27 March 2014 (see below for further details of the launch).

Download the Project Fact Sheet here.

Overview of the project

The project explores prioritisation of adaption options in response to coastal inundation and erosion. It brings together information on exposure and risk, feasible adaptation strategies and the multiple values that influence Local Government decision-making, including governance, economic, social and environmental. It also develops a broad range of criteria by which the performance of adaptation strategies can be evaluated.

The project provides a basis for future development of practical decision support tools. It involved the following key components:

  1. A Literature Review was undertaken to identify feasible adaptation responses to coastal inundation and erosion. The Review highlighted 15 options categorised under four categories – protection, accommodation, retreat and cross-cutting.
  2. Local Government staff across three case study regions (Bega Valley, Sunshine Coast and coastal Sydney) were surveyed for their views on these options. Multi-criteria analyses enabled assessment against multiple governance, economic, social and environmental criteria, across various time horizons.
  3. A Bayesian Belief Network (BBN) was developed, enabling the integration of the survey results with spatially explicit information regarding coastal hazards and assets.
  4. A Geographic Information System (GIS) was used to display outputs from the BBN, so that information on hazards, assets, and the utility of different adaptation options could be visualised for any property in each of the three study regions.

In addition, a Guide to Monitoring and Evaluating Coastal Adaptation has been developed, to assist Local Government in tracking progress towards adaptation goals and identifying best practice adaptation. The Guide is currently being road-tested with five Councils (Bega Valley, Leichhardt, Rockdale, Sunshine Coast and Sutherland), to consider opportunities for improvement and additional support materials. Outcomes from this process will be available in the coming months.

Project Outputs

The key outputs from the project are:

Monitoring and Evaluating Coastal Adaptation

One of the findings to emerge from the project was that, although adaptation efforts are widespread in Local Government, there is limited evidence of appropriate monitoring and evaluation. When it comes to monitoring and evaluation, the focus is typically on measuring the outcomes of particular actions. However, outcomes are very much influenced by the planning processes behind those actions and the resources and capital (capacity) used to execute them. Without an understanding of the way these factors are influencing outcomes, it is hard to fully appreciate how effective or ineffective those actions are.

To address this issue we have developed A Guide to Monitoring and Evaluating Coastal Adaptation. The Guide provides a framework for monitoring and evaluating the climate change adaptation strategies and practices of Local Government in coastal areas, focusing on three key areas – best practice planning, adaptive capacity and monitoring outcomes.

Overview:

The Guide begins with a brief overview of different adaptation strategies, based on the ‘protect-accommodate-retreat’ framework. It then proceeds into more focused consideration of the three key areas of planning, capacity and outcomes, drawing on best practice principles and standards.

A series of templates and case studies take users through an evaluation of their own adaptation plans against these best practice principles and standards. The templates contained in the Guide present a number of best practice principles for adaptation planning, adaptive capacity and monitoring outcomes. They are intentionally pitched at a high level, so that they can be applied across a range of contexts.

Although the Guide is focused on climate change adaptation, the principles and tools contained therein can be applied to planning processes generally. Indeed, climate change adaptation cuts across all functional areas of Local Government and should ultimately be embedded in all planning processes.

Downloads:

A Guide to Monitoring and Evaluating Coastal Adaptation (2nd edition)

Editable versions of templates:

Background

The Guide is based on a literature review of relevant publications, as well as an online survey and workshops with the 15 Member Councils of the Sydney Coastal Councils Group, the Sunshine Coast Council, and Bega Valley Shire Council.

The original Guide, published in 2012, has been further refined based on outcomes from a Pilot Workshop Series with Council representatives from Bega Valley Shire Council, Leichhardt City Council, Rockdale City Council, Sunshine Coast Council and Sutherland Shire Council in early 2014.

Project Launch

On 27 March 2014, we launched the outcomes from the project. Fifty-two individuals attended the launch, representing 28 different organisations. The launch featured presentations from the principal researcher, Dr Ben Preston of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (USA), as well as the Coastal & Marine Unit of the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage and the SCCG. Presentations examined three key elements to coastal adaptation – exposure assessments, decision-making tools and monitoring & evaluation. This was followed by a panel discussion and workshop, which provided an opportunity for participants to explore issues further.

The Launch Outcomes Report provides an overview of the day’s proceedings and outcomes. Click here to download the report.

The following presentation slides are available for download:

Overview of SCCG Coastal Adaptation Pathway Project
Geoff Withycombe, Executive Officer, Sydney Coastal Councils Group

Prioritising Coastal Adaptation Options for Local Government: A Multi-Criteria Analysis for Local Government
Dr Ben Preston, Senior Research Scientist, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Monitoring and Evaluation for Adaptation
Emma Norrie, Coastal Projects Officer, Sydney Coastal Councils Group

Demonstrating Climate Change Adaptation of Interconnected Water Infrastructure Project

In July 2011, the Sydney Coastal Councils Group (SCCG) was awarded funding under the Coastal Adaptation Decision Pathways Project (CAP) for three projects- (1) “Prioritising Coastal Adaptation and Development Options for Local Government”; (2) “Demonstrating Climate Change Adaptation of Interconnected Water Infrastructure Project” and; (3) “Assessment and Decision frameworks for Existing Seawalls”. Funding has been provided by the Australian Government represented by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. The Coastal Adaptation Decision Pathways projects is an Australian Government Initiative. A newsletter covering all three projects is available here.

This project, “Demonstrating Climate Change Adaptation of Interconnected Water Infrastructure”, developed information, guidance and capacity building activities to ensure implementation of appropriate asset management systems for water infrastructure in a changing climate.

A case study approach was used to developed a structured decision-support Framework to assist infrastructure managers to work through the complex problems associated with managing interconnected water infrastructure.

The Framework is based on an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach, providing an iterative and reflective learning environment where participants can improve not only their own knowledge and skills but also a deepened understanding of the problems and potential options to progress to an adaptive pathway.

The Report materials are available for download here:

The tools provide technical support and templates for users, and the User Manual is designed to be instructive with clear, simple steps through each stage of the process. The Adaptation Resource Centre uses an interactive PDF format.

The Case Studies (Part 4) are available to download here. The case studies were undertaken in the context of a learning environment and the data and findings must be understood in that context. The case studies narrowed the focus to a single hazard and particular management questions, and are limited in their application outside the parameters defined by the project.

The project was delivered in partnership between SCCG, Sydney Water, Water Research Laboratory (UNSW) and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH). Click here to learn more.

A Guide to Monitoring and Evaluating Coastal Adaptation

One of the findings to emerge from our 2013 project Prioritising Coastal Adaptation and Development Options for Local Government Project, was that although adaptation efforts are widespread in Local Government, there is limited evidence of appropriate monitoring and evaluation. When it comes to monitoring and evaluation, the focus is typically on measuring the outcomes of particular actions. However, outcomes are very much influenced by the planning processes behind those actions and the resources and capital (capacity) used to execute them. Without an understanding of the way these factors are influencing outcomes, it is hard to fully appreciate how effective or ineffective those actions are.

To address this issue we have developed A Guide to Monitoring and Evaluating Coastal Adaptation. The Guide provides a framework for monitoring and evaluating the climate change adaptation strategies and practices of Local Government in coastal areas, focusing on three key areas – best practice planning, adaptive capacity and monitoring outcomes.

Overview

The Guide begins with a brief overview of different adaptation strategies, based on the ‘protect-accommodate-retreat’ framework. It then proceeds into more focused consideration of the three key areas of planning, capacity and outcomes, drawing on best practice principles and standards.

A series of templates and case studies take users through an evaluation of their own adaptation plans against these best practice principles and standards. The templates contained in the Guide present a number of best practice principles for adaptation planning, adaptive capacity and monitoring outcomes. They are intentionally pitched at a high level, so that they can be applied across a range of contexts. However users are encouraged to adapt the templates to incorporate specific considerations relevant to their Council.

Although the Guide is focused on climate change adaptation, the principles and tools contained therein can be applied to planning processes generally. Indeed, climate change adaptation cuts across all functional areas of Local Government and should ultimately be embedded in all planning processes.

Downloads

A Guide to Monitoring and Evaluating Coastal Adaptation (2nd edition)

Editable versions of templates:

Background

The Guide is based on a literature review of relevant publications, as well as an online survey and workshops with the 15 Member Councils of the Sydney Coastal Councils Group, the Sunshine Coast Council, and Bega Valley Shire Council.

The original Guide, published in 2012, has been further refined based on outcomes from a Pilot Workshop Series with Council representatives from Bega Valley Shire Council, Leichhardt City Council, Rockdale City Council, Sunshine Coast Council and Sutherland Shire Council in early 2014.