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Managing our coastal zone in a changing climate: the time to act is now

29 Oct 2009

New governance arrangements are needed for Australia’s coastal zone, according to this report, which makes recommendations to improve management of climate change and environmental impacts on the coast.

Some 80 per cent of the Australian population live in the coastal zone, and the concentration of Australia’s population and infrastructure along the coast makes us particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts, including sea level rise. 
The inquiry generated a high level of interest from the Australian community, with over 100 written
submissions and 180 exhibits. The Committee heard from over 170 witnesses at 28 public hearings held
around Australia. The report’s 47 recommendations include:

• a call for national leadership

• a COAG Intergovernmental Agreement on the Coastal Zone, which defines the roles and
responsibilities of the three tiers of government involved in coastal zone management 

• urgent inquiries into legal and insurance issues relating to climate change impacts on the coastal

• improved emergency management arrangements in the event of a climate change related coastal

• an awareness campaign to alert coastal communities to the key challenges facing the coastal zone 

• a study into the vulnerability of the Torres Strait to the impacts of climate change 

• a comprehensive national assessment of coastal infrastructure vulnerability to sea level rise

• establishment of a system of national coastal zone environmental accounts, expansion of coastal
areas protected within Australia’s National Reserve System, an increase in the number of coastal
wetlands classified as Ramsar sites and implementation of a National Shorebirds Protection Strategy

• establishment of a National Coastal Zone Database to improve access to information

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