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Working paper

Climate change poses major challenges for all countries, regions and cities. Canberra is no exception, and the imperative to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to unavoidable climate changes is becoming stronger.

Climate change adaptation is a relatively new area of policy, practice and research, which has experienced significant and rapid growth in the last 10 years. Government, business and the community have become increasingly engaged and informed of the issues, impacts and consequences that a changing climate will bring in both the short and longer terms. Working collaboratively to ensure a sustainable future for future generations is a goal of many organisations.

The ACT Government is at the forefront of Australian policy and planning in developing a long term and systematic approach to the issues that cities, regions and communities face as they plan for climate change. The Territory’s work on the development of complementary mitigation and adaptation strategies, and the introduction of Directions for the ACT, has provided this background paper with a solid conceptual grounding to undertake its analysis.

This paper is organised as follows:

  • A review of the climate science and climate adaptation relevant to both the Australian Capital Territory and the Australian Capital Region (Section 2).
  • A review of the ACT’s current policy response and framework in planning for climate change adaptation (Section 3).
  • An analysis of emerging leading practice adaptation principles and processes; including the development of seven key principles (Section 4).
  • A brief review of the six priority sectors—community health and wellbeing, disaster and emergency management, settlements and infrastructure, water, natural resources and ecosystems, and agriculture—and analysis of leading practices emerging from six case studies, each case study applicable to one priority sector (Section 5).
  • A discussion of potential future challenges and opportunities, including research findings (Section 6).

The adoption of a framework based on key principles to assess adaptive practice can be of great assistance to governance and internal reporting mechanisms. We suggest in this study that greater emphasis on integration of policy outcomes and adaptive learning cycles will facilitate the ACT becoming a national leader in climate change adaptation strategy development and implementation.


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