Statutory frameworks, institutions and policy processes for climate adaptation: Do Australia’s existing statutory frameworks, associated institutions and policy processes support or impede national adaptation planning and practice?
Authors: Karen Hussey, Richard Price, Jamie Pittock, Jules Livingstone, Steve Dovers, Doug Fisher and Steve Hatfield-Dodds
This project determined that awareness and incorporation of climate risk into key policies and statutory arrangements has increased community and regional adaptive capacity from the bottom up. However, while investments in climate change adaptation are being made by all Australian governments, few are able to articulate the business case for such investment. This finding suggests two things: 1) that the precautionary principle is in action, and 2) that governments have little basis for determining what level of investment is appropriate. This project undertook a nation-wide analysis of core statutory and institutional arrangements through examining 7 case studies that, combined, capture the full range of statutory and institutional arrangements in Australia. The findings suggest that on the whole, existing statutory arrangements do appear to have the capacity to support climate change adaptation planning. However, some states/territories were found to be lagging behind in the review and reform of existing arrangements, there was evidence of perverse incentives or conflicting policy goals in higher order policies, and pre-existing dwellings/infrastructure were incompletely captured by the new revised legislation. The development and implementation of a strategic national policy framework needs to address three identified issues of significant concern 1) There is a lack of clear and consistent implementation of frameworks to guide adaptation planning; 2 There is a lack of financial and human capacity at the state and local level to adequately implement adaptive strategies; and 3) Detailed information, data and response strategies are patchy, not fit-for-purpose and lack accreditation processes. This report provides a number of recommendations to address the above 3 key issues, including alternative responses depending on the extent to which governments can negotiate a collective response (Desirable outcome/ Immediately Feasible) and the extent to which they seek to build longer-term resilience and adaptive capacity across Australian institutions and communities. (High Adaptive Capacity/ Modest Adaptive Capacity)