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Coastal Climate Adaptation at the Local Level: A Policy Analysis of the Gold Coast

Aysin Dedekorkut-Howes and Jordan Vickers


The Gold Coast is a booming coastal city in South East Queensland, Australia renowned for its iconic ocean beaches, lifestyle, and tourism opportunities that take place in the coastal zone. It is home to over half a million people in an area stretching along approximately 57 kilometres of coastline, with the vast majority of development within 6 km of the ocean (ABS 2015; Dedekorkut-Howes and Bosman 2015). The health and stability of coastal ecosystems on the Gold Coast (beaches, dunes, and coastal wetlands) is integral to the protection of the city’s developed coastal areas that fuel the lifestyle and tourism that is integral to the city (Zeppel 2012). However, with the impacts of climate change impending, these areas are increasingly vulnerable without adaptive plans, strategies or policies in place. The vulnerability of the Gold Coast’s beaches to coastal processes exacerbated by climate change (increased erosion, flooding, frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and ensuing storm surges, tides, and swells) is widely known (Castelle et al. 2008; Sano et al. 2011; Zeppel 2012). As boasted by the City of Gold Coast (2013: 9) in its Ocean Beaches Strategy 2013-2023, the city ‘has been at the forefront of coastal management since the 1960s. Nevertheless, the ability of the city’s coastal management practices to address climate change adaptation is questionable. This paper attempts to evaluate the current status of coastal climate adaptation on the Gold Coast through investigating the following questions: What is the Gold Coast currently doing for coastal climate adaptation? How do the city’s plans, policies and strategies compare with ‘best practice’ for coastal climate adaptation?

A. Dedekorkut-Howes (H) • J. Vickers

Griffith School of Environment and Cities Research Institute,

Griffith University, Queensland, Australia

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W. Leal Filho (ed.), Climate Change Adaptation in Pacific Countries, Climate Change Management, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-50094-2_25

In order to answer these questions first a literature review on coastal climate adaptation best practices was conducted. As coastal climate adaptation is the product of both coastal management and climate change adaptation actions, next both of these are reviewed in turn for the Gold Coast. Then, three key policies and plans are evaluated against an evaluation framework developed for this purpose. The paper concludes with a discussion on what needs to be done to improve local coastal adaptation.

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