The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute released new research on Thursday, tearing into government inaction and the lack of strong direction in helping its cities and towns cope with climate change impact, including a lack of legislation and funding.

“Climate adaption strategies are hindered by a lack of political leadership and lack of allocation of responsibilities between Australia’s three tiers of government”, writes AHURI in the Improving Australian climate change adaption strategies: learning from international experience report.

In a 2019 assessment of adaptation plans of 54 countries, Australia was the worst performer amongst its peers.

With the lack of coordination between governments being the key barrier to achieving a comprehensive and integrated climate change strategy, the report serves as a guide from researchers at Curtin University on what needs to be done.

It details cases of successful climate change practices, strategies and policies from other countries that could be used in supporting the sustainable development of cities and towns in Australia, such as Riba-roja de Túria in Spain – a town that planted 35 hectares of low-flammable vegetation to protect the town from bushfires.

In a 2019 assessment of adaptation plans of 54 countries, Australia was the worst performer amongst its peers.

Lead researcher Dr Francesca Perugia said, “While adaptation is a shared responsibility between governments at all levels, businesses, communities and individuals, state governments need to lead the way and deliver strong leadership.”

Other case studies included flooding prevention in Tulsa, USA where the adaption strategy is supported by an overarching national policy and funding framework and the cyclone proofing in Florida USA, where policy is a combination of top-down and bottom-up solution.

“Building community resilience and preparedness includes increasing awareness of climate change for households and communities, including improving their preparedness and understanding of natural disasters,” said Perugia.

“Climate change resilience is also improved by strengthening stakeholders’ networks between different sectors and between institutions and community.”

There are three main strategic approaches the government must incorporate going forward:

  • long-term investment and holistic approaches
  • building community resilience to deal with the impacts of climate change
  • innovation in structural solutions that respect and reinforce the local ecological system as a way to build resilience

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