Vulnerable Coastal Communities
Coastal communities around New Zealand, and the world, are becoming increasingly aware of coastal hazards (coastal erosion, accretion, inundation) and sea-level rise.
While there is still much uncertainty about how significant these challenges will be and how quickly they will happen, we know there is a crucial need for coastal communities to start planning for our future.
Communities which plan for change are more resilient when it needs a response.
The Kāpiti Coast
The Kāpiti Coast coastline is approximately 38 kilometres long. As well as being the location for significant urban development, our beautiful beaches are an important community asset with many unique characteristics and natural qualities.
As such, we are a community particularly vulnerable to a wide range of environmental challenges. Particularly, coastal hazards as our coastline is exposed to sea level rise and coastal erosion over time.
In Kāpiti we have faced some of these hazards in the past and understand some of the concerns. We can build on this knowledge to look ahead to ensure we are prepared to deal with the challenges of coastal hazards in the future, creating more resilient communities.
It is important that we are dealing with social and environmental challenges facing us, including climate change impacts. Adapting to climate change along with intensive development pressures on our coasts will be an ongoing challenge into the future.
Takutai Kāpiti: Our community-led coastal adaptation project
The Takutai Kāpiti project is a collaborative, community-led process working in partnership with local iwi and supported by Kāpiti Coast District Council.
The project aims to encourage the Kāpiti Community to become more aware of the impacts of coastal hazard risks resulting from sea-level rise and climate change, and empower them to take part in developing solutions and pathways for adapting to coming change.
The Takutai Kāpiti project will follow the Ministry for the Environment’s Coastal Hazards and Climate Change Guidance for Local Government and take advice and lessons learned from the Hawkes Bay Coastal Hazards Strategy Plan , the Makara Beach Project, and other coastal adaptation projects from around the country.
The outcomes for the Takutai Kāpiti project will include a range of adaptation and management options for Kāpiti, and will likely identify the areas that may be affected by various coastal hazards over the medium and long term.
The project should deliver recommendations on coastal adaptation options for Council’s consideration. The recommendations should guide the development of District Plan provisions to manage coastal issues and an approach for the district dealing with coastal hazards.
Whakarongotai o te moana, Whakarongotai o te wā
As you listen to the tides of the ocean, so must you listen to the tides of the time
Why a community-led approach?
Join the conversation
Earlier this year, we put out a call for members of the community to volunteer in a Community Assessment Panel (CAP).
The CAP will be a working group of local people, representing a cross-section of our community and the formal mechanism through which the wider community input, iwi and technical expertise are used to develop the medium to long-term adaptive solutions.
Applications for the CAP closed in May and Council is currently working through the process to finalise the CAP membership. Once established, the CAP will meet regularly over the next 12 months to consider the medium to long-term impacts of coastal erosion and inundation and the risks they represent, review a range of adaption options, and assess these against cultural, social, and economic impacts.
How will we do this?
The Takutai Kāpiti project is split into three phases.
Phase One (Dec 2019 – 2020):
Launched and co-designed the project and community-led process. The 2020 Takutai Kāpiti: Climate Change and Our Coast Summit launched The Takutai Kāpiti project through a conference and community event held on 8 March.
Phase Two (current phase):
The establishment of a Community Assessment Panel consisting of iwi, community, and other key stakeholder and agency representatives. From mid-2021, the CAP will meet regularly over the next 12 months to consider the medium to long-term impacts of coastal erosion and inundation and the risks they represent, review a range of adaptation options, and assess these against cultural, social, and economic impacts.
Recommendations to Council and implementation planning.
What does success look like?
A sustainable, implementable and flexible 100-year coastal adaptation strategy developed for the Kāpiti Coast District. The strategy would be based on the foundations of a risk-based, dynamic adaptive pathways planning approach which is informed by sound and applicable technical expertise. Guided by and with, an informed, meaningfully engaged and empowered iwi and community at the centre.
10 Step Decision Cycle from Coastal Hazards and Climate Change: Guidance for Local Government, Ministry for the Environment, 2017.
The Community Assessment Panel approach involves community members considering the issues and options and making recommendations back to the council decision makers.
The panel will be a working group of local people, representing a cross-section of our community and the formal mechanism through which the wider community input, iwi and technical expertise are used to develop the medium to long-term adaptive solutions.
It is a consistent body of people who will meet regularly to consider the coastal hazards and risks they represent, review a range of adaptation options, assess cultural, social and economic impacts and make recommendations to Council.
The panel will be provided with cultural, technical and scientific advice to support them in considering the wide range of issues.
Dynamic adaptive pathways planning identifies ways forward (pathways) despite uncertainty, whilst remaining responsive to change should this be needed (dynamic). In this approach a range of responses are tested against possible future scenarios.
Climate change and sea level rise effects will vary along the coastline and decision-makers face unavoidable uncertainty.
It is not possible, practical or sensible to wait until uncertainties are removed before starting to consider what options might be preferred by the community.
This approach provides a process for planning and providing solutions amidst that uncertainty.
The process we are proposing to undertake is that recommended internationally and by the Ministry for the Environment. It has been used in recent years in Hawkes Bay and Makara on coastal issues. A range of response options will be explored.
Mitigation and adaptation are the two necessary approaches for addressing climate change issues. We need both, however, the focus of the Takutai Kāpiti project is about resilience and adapting to change.
Mitigation is an intervention to reduce emissions or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases. It is about reducing the scale of climate change and requires global level influence
Adaptation is an adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic change or its effects, which moderates harm or raises beneficial opportunities.
It is the approach taken in coastal and low lying areas to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience on a local scale. The aim is to build resilience so the impact is less.
How we adapt to change and the impacts of sea level rise is our opportunity to help prepare future generations.