The Right Tool for the Job: Achieving climate change adaptation outcomes through improved disaster management policies, planning and risk management strategies

Adaptation Research Grants Program
Dr Michael Howes
Griffith University
Year Started: 

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This project is designed to produce tangible outcomes that can be used by policymakers, planners and risk managers across the public sector and is strongly supported by our partner organisations. Effective responses to climate change adaptation in Australia have been hamstrung by growing antipathy from sections of the general public and government uncertainty about the most appropriate policies, plans and decision making tools. This is despite the fact that proposed climate change adaptation actions are based on the best available science and have followed rational decision-making processes that include significant public consultation. While climate change is forecast to have substantial long term impacts on many natural disasters in Australia, there is considerable uncertainty about when and how to undertake adaptation and the level of priority to be assigned compared to other problems.

Recent catastrophic natural disasters at the extremes of recorded climate variability have reinforced the idea that climate change is already occurring. Disaster management organisations, however, are not certain whether they should include climate change in current risk assessments, increase their efforts to prevent the Impacts of climate change, increase preparation measures, or increase response and recovery measures. The link between building resilience to natural disasters and climate change adaptation is also not always clear. Given stakeholder and public concerns, existing rational decisionmaking tools and process may not be sufficient. Natural disaster decision-makers need an improved approach to policymaking, planning and risk management.

The objective of this project is to develop a nationally consistent approach supported by a set of riskcontext analysis tools that will enable government disaster management organisations and decisionmakers to:

Belter understand the relative significance and timing for actions to address climate change

Analyse the social, political, economic and environmental context of communities at risk from natural hazards that will be exacerbated by climate change at national, state and local scales;

Identify potential barriers to achieving context-appropriate climate change adaptation outcomes; and,

Facilitate the effective incorporation of climate change adaptation outcomes into existing disaster management and resilience building initiatives in ways that avoid or minimise impediments. This may include, for example, proposed refinements to the existing National Emergency Management Risk Assessment Guidelines.