Community based strategic risk management: Climate change impacts on Otago Coastal communities

Focus This was a 2008/2009 MWH initiated pilot project aimed at providing a way for local government to work with communities on risk assessment and planning for challenges associated with climate change and sea level rise.

A one day workshop, run with members of the Ocean Grove, seaside community in Otago. People were invited using public notices, and leaflet drops.

The workshop had three components:

  1. Presentations – on climate change & ocean processes by NIWA and University of Otago scientists
  2. Linking general predictions to the local context – an interactive discussion about the broad impacts of climate hazards on local property, environment and infrastructure
  3. A risk management process – a workshop session progressing through risk identification, severity assessment, and management options
  • Provide a replicable format for councils to use across communities;
  • Raise community awareness of local impacts of climate change;
  • Create an enabling environment for long-term planning for natural hazards.
Key points about method
  • Presentations worked well – particularly the more they drew down from the general issues to the local implications.
  • The link- to- the- local- context exercise helped people think beyond their own properties to community-wide, financial and social implications of natural hazard events.
  • The risk assessment was not the same as a professional would achieve but had great value for building people’s capacity to understand the issues at stake.
  • Facilitation relied on those with expertise in risk assessment
Things to consider
  • One day is intense – consider spreading over two evenings
  • Simplify the risk assessment matrix – aim is to get good discussion
  • Find an immediate concern to tag long term issues to. 50 – 100years is too far away for people to be concerned with. (e.g., climate change – can link to storm increase; earthquakes to insurance changes).
When to use this approach?
  • This approach builds capacity for community to make contributions to planning decisions that are clear and focussed – so begin long term planning process with something like this & repeat over time.
  • Has wide application for either a specific issue (e.g., coastal erosion, or solid waste) or a broad range of issues (e.g. urban design, sustainability).
More information?

Sally Dicey, Dunedin City Council; John Cocks – MWH, Dunedin