By CASPR Masters graduate Jessica Priess.

Coastal adaptation planning provides coastal communities with solutions to address local climate change impacts. Coastal hazards and impacts are increasing and so are the associated risks to coastal communities, infrastructure, and ecosystems. Without effective adaptation planning which helps to prepare for the impacts of climate change, communities may experience damage caused by coastal erosion, inundation, and extreme weather events.  

However, the literature points to there being an implementation gap – there are barriers to implementing adaptation plans. Globally, over 56 studies have reported barriers related to the content of plans. If plans are unable to be implemented, there are likely to be implications, including losses and damage to community assets.  

There are 34 coastal councils in South Australia, and at the time of writing, nine had published coastal adaptation plans. To determine the efficacy of these nine published coastal adaptation plans evaluation criteria was assembled based on previous studies. A traffic light rating system was designed to visually express the efficacy of councils’ when evaluated against the criteria. 

The was variation in plans. No single plan met all the criteria. Some consultant reports however, included more of the criteria considered necessary for successful implementation including identification of prioritised actions, funding sources and clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Plans with the highest scores had been produced by councils already experiencing coastal hazards. The findings suggest that future plans should be mindful of the elements that are essential for implementation success.