Cross-scale barriers to climate change adaptation in local government, Australia

Pierre Mukheibir, Natasha Kuruppu, Anna Gero and Jade Herriman

Through a synthesis of the common barriers to adaptation in Australia and internationally, this study revealed that the cross-scale barriers faced by local government in relation to climate change adaptation are similar to barriers experienced in other areas of their work as well. 'Cross-scale' barriers are those that exist in the interactions of local government beyond its boundaries – with industry, community and other spheres of government. These barriers have the potential to limit the effectiveness of planned adaptation initiatives on the ground and arising at each stage of the climate change adaptation process – understanding, planning, implementation, monitoring and management. The cross-scale barriers identified in this study through stakeholder engagemment fall into four main thematic areas: (1) poor understanding of the risks of limited access to and the uncertainty of climate change impact related information; (2) inconsistent governance structures, coordination, communications and leadership between the vertical tiers and horizontal levels of government; (3) inconsistent problem definition and appropriate climate change adaptation frameworks to use for planning; and (4) competing priorities in planning and implementing responses due to limited operational resourcing, in areas such as staffing and funding. The research participants also identified key enabling actions for overcoming the cross-scale challenges, including: building community consensus; allocating and agreeing upon priorities, roles and responsibilities; improving the national climate adaptation framework; use of effective regional mechanisms and initiatives; developing a consistent risk-planning and business case framework; establishing a central data-management and sharing facility, and making more effective use of existing and government funds.

Resource Type: 
Research report
Australia Wide
Legal issues
Local government

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