Planning, building and insuring: Adaptation of built environment to climate change induced increased intensity of natural hazards

Authors: David King, John Ginger, Stewart Williams, Alison Cottrell, Yetta Gurtner, Cam Leitch, David Henderson, Nandana Jayasinghe, Peter Kim, Kate Booth, Carl Ewin, Kenneth Innes, Keith Jacobs, Marianne Jago-Bassingthwaighte and Luke Jackson
Year: 2013

Planning has been directed more towards hazard mitigation of recent, but remains constrained by a lack of comprehensive all-hazard mapping. This report argues that as it becomes possible for councils to impose development constraints or conditions the planning legislation must be strengthened to ensure that appropriate development is enforced. Insurance also needs regulatory strengthening, if it is to play a role in preparedness, not just recovery. If planning and building provisions are weak, insurance assesses the risk and adjusts, or even withdraws, coverage. Where people and structures are not insured, the costs of a disaster are usually transferred to government and the whole community. There is also the danger of the ‘safe development paradox, where people and organisations assume they are protected and therefore do not take actions to adapt to the changing environment. As such, the capacity of insurance to have a key role in climate change adaptation and associated risk mitigation is constrained by limitations in governance. Building modifications and codes may also need to be developed for bushfires, floods and storm surges, ensuring that people do ‘build back better’ following a disaster. This study evaluated the possible use of a regulatory mechanism of building construction, housing and planning in climate change adaptation concentrated on adaptation responses that may be required in mitigation of the impacts of three types of hazards: tropical cyclones, floods and bushfires.

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