10 April 2014 — Planning and good governance will be vital to managing climate change adaptation responses, the Planning Institute of Australia has said in response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recently released Working Group II report.

While urban and regional planning were essential to managing climate change, so too was enhanced coordination of disaster mitigation and management across government to boost resilience to predicted climate impacts, Planning Institute chief executive Kirsty Kelly said.

“[The IPCC] report clearly shows that the impacts of climate change are already being felt around the world, and that we must urgently identify how future Australian communities will be affected by these probable changes,” Ms Kirsty Kelly said.

“National and State leadership in the urban and regional planning space will be critical.

“All spheres of government must be deeply engaged in decisions about what impacts are unacceptable, and in difficult decisions about when to defend, manage or retreat from risks.”

Ms Kelly, who is chair of resilience strategy for peak body the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council, said planners and allied groups would approach governments to seek regulatory support, funding for research and the development of tools and benchmarks to help make decisions about the funding and governance of change in urban and rural areas.

“Major floods and fires over the past five years have demonstrated the complexities facing the three levels of government in managing current hazards,” Ms Kelly said.

“The challenges – and the potential damage – of climate change are too much for one sphere of government to manage; without well thought-out plans and strategies, the impact of disasters like these on households may quickly become worse.

“Urban and regional planning can be a powerful tool in create resilient communities that can rebound from natural disasters.

“It can also help create robust economies while protecting the natural environment.

“But if decision making is ad hoc and uncoordinated, some communities may find they can no longer insure their homes, and governments could spend vastly more on managing their risks, such as on disaster assistance, for example on repairs and rebuilding damaged property after natural disasters.

“We look forward to working with the Federal Government to explore and then build the planning structures that will protect our communities and restore them quickly when disaster strikes.”