Final report released: Costs and coasts: an empirical assessment of physical and institutional climate adaptation pathways

This final report details research funded by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility that analyses the costs and benefits of residential adaptation and identifies coastal community types to determine if adaptation should take place at the community or individual level. The distribution of the potential benefits and costs of adapting to protect against storm surge inundation vary greatly both within and between coastal communities. This diversity is a result of physical factors, such as the risk of storm surge, sea level rise projections, and the topography of the landscape, as well as socioeconomic factors, such as the level of development and the capacity within the community to adapt. Because the costs and benefits of adapting to protect against inundation accrue differently across the community, different players stand to win or lose from different adaptations. Moreover, the scales at which adaptation decisions are made and funded can influence the types of adaptations being implemented. Beginning to build an understanding of these issues is vital to the design of equitable institutions to manage inundation risk by adaptation.

In contrast to the Australian focus on locally managed climate adaptation, an international review showed that, globally, adaptation is more frequently coordinated and underwritten by policies, financing and responsibilities at state or national scales. The review explored the different contexts in which protect, accommodate and retreat adaptation decisions are being made. When combined with our empirical findings, our study suggests there is scope to consider new models for sharing risks and costs across scales of Australian government and industry.

View the final report

Banner photo copyright Andrew Higgins

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