Coastal Adaptation to Climate Change: Towards Reflexive Governance

By David Wood and Laura Stocker.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

We describe an action-research methodology designed to generate a model for reflexive coastal zone governance in Australia that is collaborative, capable of responding to new information, capable of higher order learning, adaptive, anticipatory, and able to innovate trials. In Australia, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has been responsible for interpreting and generating science about climate change impacts and the coastal zone, with a view to enabling coastal adaptation. However, while some progress has been made, our policy-makers, planners and stakeholders have been slow to develop and implement effective strategies for the coastal zone. In order to investigate the implementation gaps between science, policy and practice, the CSIRO commissioned an Australia-wide project, an aspect of which we frame in this paper. First, we examine the broad biophysical and socio-cultural context for coastal governance in Australia, then proceed to frame a novel methodology designed to enhance the knowledge-policy dialogue about coastal adaptation to climate change in Australia’s Southwest. Our action-research methodology derives from the Dutch transition management approach. It features: deliberative workshops using Google Earth as a stakeholder engagement platform; visualisation exercises using Google Earth; the development of scenarios for trials in coastal governance; and the prioritisation of these by the stakeholder groups.

Keywords: Climate Change Science, Governance, Stakeholder Engagement, Australia, Coastal Zone, CSIRO

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.137-146. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.618MB).

Prof. David Wood

Pro-Vice Chancellor, Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Professor David Wood is the Deputy Vice Chancellor International at Curtin University. David holds senior positions on the State Government’s peak planning boards including: Chair of the State’s Coastal Planning and Coordination Council and the Perth Coastal Planning Strategy Steering Committee; Deputy Chair of the Ningaloo Sustainable Development Committee; Commissioner of the Western Australian Planning Commission; and member of the Steering Committee for the WA State of the Environment Report. David recently completed terms as a Councillor of the Heritage Council of Western Australia, Director of the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute and a Councillor of the Planning Institute of Australia (Western Australia). David Wood’s primary research foci are coastal and tourism planning. David works extensively on Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre projects and is currently project leader for three national projects. David’s PhD examined participatory tourism planning in the North West of Western Australia and is based on a case study which involved the preparation of a regional tourism planning strategy. Ongoing research involves tourism and its environmental, cultural and economic impacts in sensitive environments and involving Aboriginal communities. David’s other research interests in heritage and the use of morphology in urban design and the effect of insurgency and dissent on planning decision-making. David is leader of the nationwide project described in this article.

Laura Stocker

Academic Staff Member, Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Associate Professor Laura is a marine ecologist by training. Currently, she researches and teaches in the area of coastal sustainability, climate change policy, sustainability education, sustainability mapping, cultural models of the coast and conceptual aspects of sustainability. She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Auckland’s Marine Laboratory at Leigh, on the ecology of subtidal marine invertebrates. She then completed a PhD on subtidal marine invertebrates at the University of Sydney. By the end of the PhD she wanted to find a more interdisciplinary field that incorporated human dimensions. She was employed at Murdoch University in 1989 where she shortly established Australia’s first course in sustainability, focussing on the interaction among social, economic, social and ecological fields. In 2008 she was employed by Curtin University, along with several other colleagues to form the new Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute. Here she coordinates the Masters Course in Sustainability Studies. She is deputy leader of the nationwide project described in this article.