Adaptation is defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as ‘the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects’. (Source: CoastAdapt, 2017)
Coastal hazard adaptation is about taking a holistic and comprehensive response to address the risks associated with coastal hazards. It must take into account the timing of a proposed action. Given that future climate change is uncertain, acting too soon can risk outcomes that are too costly or not quite right…. but acting too late can risk facing greater impacts.
Adaptation can take the form of one or a combination of actions that can range from ‘do nothing’ through to avoiding, accommodating, retreating or protecting our properties and infrastructure.
There are also many different types of adaptation responses. We can build things differently, move certain land uses away, or importantly we can use nature and put in place ecological solutions to better support the coast to withstand the impacts.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ and we have to make sure the way we ‘adapt’ is best for the coast itself, for our communities and is financially viable. Most often it is one or a combination of the following types of approaches:
Figure 2: Adaptation responses (NCAARF, www.coastadapt.com.au)
Different options for responses include:
- Planning options: regulating land uses and built forms to reduce vulnerability to hazards.
- Environmental management options: Projects and programs that improve the resilience of natural coastal systems and habitats, such as wetlands and dune systems, to reduce the severity of coastal hazard impacts, build dunes and support the resilience of local biodiversity.
- Engineering options: coastal protection structures to defend/protect areas from impacts; drainage systems to accommodate flooding; planning for the location of future public infrastructure.
- Social, community and education measures: Improving community awareness of and resilience to risks that remain even after other adaptation options are implemented.