The capacities of private developers in urban climate change adaptation

Authors: Heather Shearer, Pazit Taygfeld, Eddo Coiacetto, Jago Dodson and Zsuzsa Banhalmi-Zakar
Year: 2013

Using the South-East Queensland development industry as a case study, this report investigates (1) the institutional capacity of the private urban development sector to respond to climate change, and (2) the role of private financial institutions in funding climate adaptive urban development. An online questionnaire survey, interviews and focus groups were used to identify drivers, barriers and recommendations for improving the adaptive capacity of the urban development industry. The adaptive capacity of the urban property development industry in SE QLD was found to be dependent on complex and interconnected factors, the most important of which were: economic resources, financing and market conditions; government regulation and industry self-regulation; firm size and structure; the type and spatio-temporal scale of developments; and the concepts of leadership and legacy. The insurance and financial sectors had the potential to drive adaptation, but current practices often resulted in maladaptation. The major barriers to adaptive capacity were economic, marketing and regulatory issues. For example, state and local government regulation and planning processes were found to be complex, inflexible and inconsistent; development firms possesing a greater adaptive capacity were generally larger, with greater economic resources and less reliant on bank funding, and thus able to afford specialist consultants. The study also produced key findings on attitude and awareness regarding climate change, e.g. most developers and planning consultants did not feel that climate change posed a serious treat to their business, and most associated climate change only with sea level rise. The report contains recommendations for developers, government, media, insurers and banks, regulatory boards, and academia.

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