The South East Queensland Climate Adaptation Research Initiative (SEQCARI) is a partnership between the Queensland and Australian Governments, the CSIRO Climate Adaptation National Research Flagship, Griffith University, University of the Sunshine Coast and The University of Queensland.
South East Queensland (SEQ) is particularly vulnerable to climate change because of its growing population and coastal location. Human settlements, infrastructure, unique ecosystems, and primary industries all face threats from more extreme weather events, increased temperatures and altered rainfall patterns as a result of increased greenhouse gas emissions. Despite these risks and challenges, climate change may also bring some economic and social opportunities.
SEQCARI aims to provide research knowledge to enable the region to adapt and prepare for the impacts of climate change, developing practical and cost-effective adaptation strategies to assist decision makers in government, industry and the community. The initiative is the first comprehensive regional study on climate change adaptation undertaken in Australia, and one of only a few worldwide. It is exploring both vulnerabilities and adaptation options in response to climate change so that our prosperous regional economy, environment and lifestyles can be maintained into the future.
The Human Settlements Component of SEQCARI covers five principal sectors of: urban planning and management; coastal management; physical infrastructure related to local government; emergency management; and human health. The relevant combinations of the proposed adaptation options, in the form of policies, programs and actions for each of the five sectors, seek to minimise SEQ’s vulnerability to future climate change impacts, including natural hazards.
The Human Settlements component of SEQCARI covers five principal sectors of: urban planning and management; coastal management; physical infrastructure related to local government; emergency management; and human health. An outline of each of these sectors is provided below.
The Urban Planning and Management (UPM) sector focuses on identifying and developing climate change adaptation options which will inform local and regional statutory and non-statutory planning processes in South East Queensland. This includes: (i) investigating the most appropriate planning framework and scale to address climate change adaptation; (ii) investigating how collaborative planning and management can facilitate the development and implementation of climate change adaptation, including the identification of key stakeholders and how they relate to the implementation and governance of climate adaptation; and (iii) investigating how current institutional arrangements might be remodelled to support climate change adaptation. The UPM sector also explores the synergies and trade-offs between climate change adaptation and mitigation in the management of urban and regional areas.
South East Queensland’s coastal areas are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, with population growth and urban development trends exposing more population and assets to the risks of sea level rise and damage associated with extreme storms.
Coastal Management aims at addressing issues related with the interaction between coastal natural processes (such as waves, currents, tides and sediment movements) with human activities, including human settlements, public infrastructure and coastal protection works. Coastal management activities include, for instance, assessing developments in erosion or storm surge flood prone areas, implementing programs for beach nourishment and dune restoration, and/or preparing policies to improve design standards for coastal infrastructure. Identifying socio-economic and technological adaptation options for coastal areas within a flexible and adaptable coastal policy framework is critical to face future coastal challenges.
Physical infrastructure’s function is to deliver components required for the operation of facilities, services and installations, thus enabling a community or society to function. Physical Infrastructure can be built, touched, enabled, or disabled. For the purpose of this research, we are only concerned with the physical infrastructure in South East Queensland, which broadly consist of roads and bridges; public transportation (rail, bus, ports and airports); water and stormwater infrastructure; and, electricity supply and distribution.
Disaster management is about managing the potential adverse effects of an event and includes arrangements for mitigating, preventing, preparing for, responding to and recovering from a disaster.
In South East Queensland, disaster management arrangements are based on a tiered structure that recognises four levels: local, disaster district, state and national levels. The primary responsibility for emergency management falls to the local and state governments, as the national government does not have constitutional power in respect of emergency management. The role of the national government is to provide national coordination and resources in cases of major disasters as well as support the development of each state’s emergency management capability. Disaster management in South East Queensland is based on five main principles: (i) comprehensive approach; (ii) all hazards approach; (c) all agencies approach; (d) local disaster management capability; and (e) a prepared, resilient community.
The health sector of South East Queensland refers to the institutions, resources and services that protect and promote the physical, mental and social wellbeing of residents; and arrangements to prevent illness, injury or disability in the region. Determinants of health are various, including behavioural and biological, economic, environmental and social factors.
The adaptation options presented in this website are related to eight major adaptation themes that were generated based on messages elicited by stakeholders involved in the SEQCARI study over the duration of the project, document analysis and literature (for more information on adaptation themes please see the Scenario Planning Report). An outline of the eight adaptation themes is presented below.
This adaptation theme relates to the awareness of communities, residents of SEQ and seasonal visitors and their corresponding preparedness for bushfires and natural hazards. This awareness and preparedness may be increased through initiatives such as education, scenario exercises and providing relevant support to various organisations.
This adaptation theme relates to communities that are vulnerable to climate change impacts due to their geographical location, social disadvantage, and/or residence in high-risk housing. This adaptation theme also involves the databases used to identify vulnerable communities, and to the public health systems, mental health services, effective communications systems and capacity building initiatives that may assist the adaptive capacity and resilience of vulnerable communities to adverse climate change impacts. It also includes considerations of the effects of residential accommodation and retrofitting initiatives on lower socioeconomic groups, and measures to ensure adequate equity outcomes from adaptation options.
This theme relates to the identification, partnering and capacity building of people with leadership abilities which may be used to influence individuals to achieve common goals. These people may be found in formal and informal networks in communities, organisations, government and the private sector, and may be important representatives for various groups, organisations and communities, as well as points of contact used in the implementation and planning of climate change adaptation options.
This theme involves pre-emptive efforts to respond to the projected impacts of climate change. This includes early warning systems and response plans for a range of natural hazards, and efforts to increase knowledge of, and responsiveness to climate change projections. This theme may be used in the context of both post-disaster and pre-disaster planning.
This theme relates to adaptation options directly related to the management of urban settlements in SEQ. It includes actions that could reduce the vulnerability of urban settlements through planning initiatives as well as retrofitting and upgrading of critical infrastructure. It also includes actions that could improve risk communication through formal communication processes specifically related to urban settlements.
This adaptation theme specifically relates to adaptation options that foster the development and adoption of new technologies as a means to reduce the vulnerability of urban settlements to climate change impacts. These include new standards systems as well as innovation design approaches to construction and infrastructure systems.
Risk communication refers to the interactive process of exchange of information and opinion, and the establishment of effective dialogue among a range of actors and groups (including members of the public) involved in assessing, minimising and regulating risks associated with climate change.
Training and Education in this adaptation theme refers to a range of training, education and awareness raising initiatives aimed at communities, professionals of various disciplines, private enterprise, and government service providers.
Bushfire has been a part of the Australian landscape for millions of years. During the period 1973 to 2007, there was a general increase in the Forest Fire Danger Index across Eastern and South East Australia. Increase in average annual temperatures and decreases in rainfall due to climate change are likely to exacerbate bushfire risks across Australia, including SEQ.
Changes in mean temperature and number of hot days could lead to extreme heat events such as heatwaves. Generally speaking, a heatwave is defined as a prolonged period of excessive heat. In SEQ, heatwaves occur when temperatures exceed 35°C for a number of consecutive days. Climate change is forecast to increase the risk of heatwaves due to an increase in average temperatures.
The most common form of flooding in Australia is riverine flood, but flash floods resulting from short intense bursts of rainfall are also common. While climate change is likely to lead to reduced average rainfall, it could lead to more intense rainfall events resulting in both riverine and flash flooding. Additionally, in coastal areas, riverine and flash floods could be intensified when combined with storm and tidal surges.
The SEQ region is often affected by severe storms, particularly during the warmer months. Climate change is likely to increase the frequency of severe storms affecting the region.
Sea level rise refers to an increase in the mean level of the ocean. Current projections indicate a sea level rise in SEQ of 80cm by 2080. Increases in sea levels could lead to associated coastal hazards such as costal erosion and inundation.
Coastal hazards to human settlements and infrastructure include sea-level-rise, driven by global warming and by changes in the oceanographic conditions, as well as the processes driven by specific weather systems in coastal and oceanic waters, including wave action and storm surges. These are the major causes of coastal erosion and floods which, combined with higher sea levels, can affect beach systems and nearby coastal properties, infrastructure and communities.
Storm surges that affect SEQ can be triggered by tropical cyclones and East Coast Lows. A southern shift in the track of tropical cyclones affecting the East Coast of Australia is expected as a result of climate change. This shift will increase the risks of both extreme rainfall events and coastal hazards affecting SEQ.
Storm tides are generated through a combination of storm surge and astronomical tide. The worst impacts occur when the storm surge arrives on top of a high tide. Storm tides affecting SEQ could become more frequent as a result of climate change and an associated southern shift in the track of tropical cyclones along the east coast of Australia.
Some coastal areas along SEQ are already experiencing coastal erosion due to natural coastal processes. Climate change could exacerbate coastal erosion due to forecasted increase in the risk of tropical cyclones reaching the region as well as an increase in the frequency of intense rainfall events in combination with storm surge events.
In SEQ, coastal inundation can be caused by unusual extreme precipitation or by storm surges associated with a major meteorological event, such as the passage of tropical cyclones or East Coast Low pressure systems.
The Human Settlements Component of SEQCARI focuses on six types of settlements that are representative of the settlement pattern in the SEQ region. These are: ‘canal estate’, ‘beach-front high-rise holiday destination’, ‘coastal residential suburb’, ‘regional activity centre’, ‘peri-urban community’ and ‘master-planned community’. An outline of each settlement type is provided below along with key adaptation challenges. A full description of these settlement types is available in the Hypothetical Case Study Elaboration Report.
The development of adaptation options was informed by individual and team iteration, document analysis of existing adaptation related initiatives and a review of the literature (see diagram below). These three sources gave rise to the formulation of three types of adaptation options, namely:
The document analysis focused on existing planning and policy initiatives at the national state, regional and local scales and from within the selected case studies. Documents reviewed included: national policies, frameworks and guidelines; state- wide policies and plans; regional plans and policies; local planning schemes; and local strategies, plans and programs directly or indirectly related to climate change adaptation. This analysis was complemented by a literature review on climate change adaptation across the sectors elsewhere in Australia and overseas. The purpose of this document analysis was:
An initial suite of preliminary adaption options was then selected for testing against the scenarios through stakeholder workshops. In parallel, stakeholder feedback was also obtained through a series of interviews with key practitioners from state government, local government, non-government organisations, the private sector and peak bodies. A further selection of the preliminary adaption options was then distributed to additional stakeholder groups and organisations to gather further feedback through a survey. At this point, the adaptation options were presented to a special workshop of the Project Reference Group (PRG) to gain their feedback and endorsement of the process and its outputs. (The full stakeholder engagement process and its achievements have been described in the Scenario Planning Report).
The Human Settlements team has drawn from the feedback from all of these stakeholder engagement sources to revise, modify, enhance and update the final selection of adaptation options.
An overarching policy framework characterises each sector. Each sector’s policy framework is described by a brief narrative supported by a diagrammatic representation of that framework. The framework comprises a series of policies with each policy supported by a number of programs. The implementation details of individual programs have been developed in terms of their respective sets of individual implementation actions. Each policy is explained by a policy statement and supporting implementation details that identify:
Programs were similarly developed with their distinguishing attributes being:
Individual actions were grouped into implementation sets under each program and distinguished in terms of:
Specific implementation criteria were also derived for each action, including:
Overall within each sector, each program and their respective actions have been classified under eight adaptation themes based on key messages elicited from stakeholder feedback, document analysis and literature review. Full description of the development of adaptation options is available in the Adaptation Options Main Report.
The overarching framework for the urban planning and management adaptation options acknowledges those planning challenges that are traditionally undertaken in two distinct geographical contexts – inland and coastal areas.
The adaptation options framework provides a clear distinction between programs that are to be implemented through statutory and/or non-statutory channels depending on the climate change related issues they aim to address. It is important to note that some of the programs are best implemented through statutory channels to improve their outcomes and effectiveness in reducing SEQ’s vulnerability to climate change impacts. In total, there are 43 programs of which 20 have statutory status, 16 have a non-statutory status and 7 have an optional statutory or non-statutory status.
Establish adaptation strategies within statutory and non-statutory planning processes to minimise the region’s vulnerability and risks from climate change impacts, including the changing nature and/or intensification of natural hazards.
Policy 1: The statutory and non-statutory planning processes must seek to minimise the vulnerability of coastal landscapes to storm tide and sea level rise inundation, coastal erosion, cyclones and severe winds, severe storms and hail, and flooding.
Policy 2: The statutory and non-statutory planning processes must seek to minimise the vulnerability of inland landscapes to heatwaves and high temperatures, flooding, severe storms and hail, and bushfires.
Policy 3: SEQ’s planning processes must have strong adaptive capacity to improve decision-making to adapt to climate change.
Adapting SEQ’s coastal settlements to the risk of current and future coastal hazards is the overarching principle behind the development of policies, programs and actions for coastal management. This principle is pursued by combining adaptation options to manage coastal erosion and floods with hard and soft defence infrastructure, by planned retreat from areas at risk or changing design, and by improving the resilience of buildings and infrastructure to accommodate floods. In addition, a specific policy is proposed to increase the capacity of coastal communities and institutions to adapt to climate variability and change, including sea level rise.
The adopted framework Defend/Retreat/Accommodate is widely used for coastal planning considerations and is presented here as a set of sub-principles for a range of coastal management policies, programs and actions. These are presented to decision-makers as alternative ways of dealing with current and future coastal hazards in SEQ. In addition, a capacity building sub-principle encloses a range of policies, programs and actions designed to improve the capacity of coastal communities and institutions to manage SEQ shorelines in a changing climate.
Policy 1: Sandy shorelines must be prepared for future coastal erosion events associated with climate variability and change.
Policy 2: Coastal settlements must be defended from the risks of current and future storm tides which may be affected by climate variability and change.
Policy 3: Coastal settlements should retreat from vulnerable shores when defence is not feasible in the future and the natural functions of shores must be restored.
Policy 4: Coastal settlement in flood prone areas must be designed to accommodate current and future storm tides.
Policy 5: The Capacity of the community and institutions to face current and future coastal hazards must be improved.
The overarching goal for the adopted framework for the physical infrastructure sector is to address the impacts of climate change and natural hazards on physical infrastructure in local government through asset management programs for developing adaptation strategies. Programs are organised under three major groups:
Road: Asset management of road surface infrastructure must be improved in order to provide protection against climatic changes, natural hazards and extreme weather events.
Stormwater: Management design and construction of stormwater systems must be enhanced to increase resilience to changing climate, natural hazards and weather extreme events.
Adaptive Capacity: Adaptive capacity of critical infrastructure must be strengthened to deal with the variability of storm events, droughts, temperatures, precipitation patterns and sea level rise inundation.
The structure of the adaptation framework has been formulated based on the key messages received from stakeholder workshops, interviews and surveys. Programs and actions are grouped under the following categories, namely: Design, Operation, Finance, Education, Implementation and Management.
Policy 1: Asset management of road surface infrastructure must be improved in order to provide protection against climatic changes, natural hazards and extreme weather events.
Policy 2: Management, design and construction of stormwater systems must be enhanced to increase resilience to changing climate, natural hazards and extreme weather events.
Policy 3: Adaptive capacity of critical infrastructure should be strengthened to deal with the unpredictability of storm events, droughts, temperatures, precipitation patterns and sea level rise inundation.
In SEQ the disaster management system is based on the ‘comprehensive’, ‘all hazards’ and ‘all agencies’ approach. Disaster management should be planned across the four phases of prevention, preparedness, response and recovery, as directed by Queensland’s Disaster Management Act 2003. The framework adopted for the development of adaptation options for the emergency management sector aligns with these four phases to maintain consistency with the current approach to disaster management in SEQ. Although the appropriateness of this approach and the artificial separation of these four phases may be questioned, it was felt more useful to develop adaptation options within this existing approach rather than suggest a complete overhaul of the current system. Nevertheless, many of the programs put forward cut across the phases.
Adaptation options were developed for all four phases, as adapting to climate change in the emergency management sector will require significant improvements to all phases and elements of the disaster management approach. However, emergency management agencies alone will not be able to effectively reduce the vulnerability of SEQ’s human settlements to extreme weather events. The National Strategy for Disaster Resilience recognises that a ‘whole-of-government’ approach will be required to adapt to climate change and in particular that the planning system will need to play a key role to reduce the vulnerability of settlements and contribute to safer and more sustainable communities. The emergency management adaptation framework, therefore, contains both sector-specific as well as cross-sectoral adaptation options, with a particular focus on more effective integration with the urban planning and management sector.
Policy 1: State and local governments integrate long term post-disaster recovery considerations into pre-disaster planning processes.
Policy 2: A series of programs to integrate emergency management and urban planning and management processes to more effectively reduce vulnerability of communities to climate change.
Policy 3: A series of programs will be introduced to improve the level of preparedness of communities to climate change and new climatic risks.
Policy 4: An integrated group of programs to support and enhance the emergency management capacity and capability of local governments in light of the changing risk profile due to climate change.
Policy 5: Stronger regional collaboration between local governments for emergency events is facilitated through a buddy system sponsored by the Council of Mayors (SEQ).
Policy 6: A series of programs facilitated by emergency management agencies to more effectively support the role of communities in disaster response and recovery to promote greater community resilience to extreme weather events and climate change.
The formulation of adaptation options for the health sector has been guided by key climate change challenges to the functions of the health sector identified by Frumkin (2008). These include:
In the first policy, programs focus on the capacity of primary health facilities to respond to emergency/short term climate change impacts such as an increase in the severity or frequency of extreme weather events and consequent surges in demand for primary health services. Heat wave management is included in this group in recognition of the potential for heat events to result in significant surges in demand for health services in the absence of adequate adaptation measures.
The second policy presents adaptation options focused on capacity building across not just government health departments and services, but also integrates actions at a community level, and utilises social networks and environmental/urban planning. Programs include measures relating to training, and increasing awareness of health impacts of climate change across a range of actors.
The third policy recognises the broad range of determinants of health for different communities and populations. Programs in this group attempt to integrate and elicit links between human health adaptation options and adaptation options of other sectors in the Human Settlements component – emergency management, physical infrastructure and urban planning and management.
The fourth policy focuses on surveillance and monitoring of impacts of climate change at a population health level, allowing health services to track, anticipate and respond to changes in disease patterns. This includes integrated monitoring of social determinants of health, environmental indicators, and epidemiological monitoring and response. Programs also encourage further research and development for climate adaptation for human health.
Policy 1: Responses to human health impacts of extreme weather events and projected changes in climate should be enhanced through strengthened and expanded health initiatives and emergency preparedness.
Policy 2: Health risk minimisation and capacity building for communities, private sector and government departments should be assisted through a range of initiatives and programs.
Policy 3: Integration of health initiatives with policies and plans in other sectors to enhance climate adaptation efforts for human health.
Policy 4: Surveillance and monitoring for human health should be strengthened in order to have timely responses to future climate impacts.
The Human Settlements team developed adaptation appraisal criteria which were informed by literature and input from key stakeholders involved in the Project Reference Group. The criteria, whilst not exhaustive, comprise a benchmark to guide policy formulation for climate change adaptation. They represent well-established criteria that should assist to ensure that adaptation options are designed to deal with uncertain future climatic and socio-economic conditions; do not lead to unintended negative impacts on other systems, sectors or groups; enhance current policies and initiatives; do not increase the impacts from climate change; and do not lead to maladaptation. Each program presented here was assessed in terms of how well it met each of eleven appraisal criteria, i.e. either ‘high’ or ‘low’, where ‘high’ was considered favourable and ‘low’ unfavorable.
An outline of the 11 criteria is set out below, additional information about the criteria, including source of references can be accessed in Scenario Planning Report:
Click on the topics in the accordion below
Welcome to the SEQCARI Decision Support toolThis tool allows for more efficient discovery of programs contained in the Adaptation Options for Human Settlements in South East Queensland report. Getting started.