Adapting to climate change means undertaking actions to minimise threats or maximise opportunities resulting from climate change and its effects. Adapting along with managing intensive development pressures on our coasts will be an ongoing challenge into the future. Adaptation is a shared responsibility that requires strong and committed partnerships amongst coastal managers, communities and interest groups. Adapting to climate change involves understanding the dynamic nature of the coastal zone and the potential vulnerability of certain areas to coastal processes. It requires an understanding amongst coastal communities of the need for adaptation and how adaptation measures can be successfully and effectively embedded into decision-making processes. It also involves a step-by-step approach (a pathway) that is flexible to changing circumstances (new information, new methodologies, change in policy). A failure to act or delaying adaptation will only cost more in the future and expose communities to a greater level of risk to coastal hazards. The flowchart below describes the processes for coastal adaptation adopted by the Alliance.
A risk management approach is fundamental to this adaptation journey. The ISO 31:000 risk management framework (ISO 31000:2009) was adopted by the Alliance as the framework for addressing risks and to help deal with uncertainties associated with the magnitude and timing of climate change impacts. A risk management approach helps to identify the likelihood and consequences of risks and define the level of acceptable risk for the coastal zone. The acceptable risk is the level of risk individuals and communities are prepared to live with, along with the amount they are prepared to pay for activities that would help them adapt to climate change effects over time (Britton et al. 2011).