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A Climate Change Adaptation Planning Process for Low-Lying, Communities Vulnerable to Sea Level Rise

Author(s): Sara Barron | Glenis Canete | Jeff Carmichael | David Flanders | Ellen Pond | Stephen Sheppard | Kristi Tatebe

Journal: Sustainability
ISSN 2071-1050

Volume: 4;
Issue: 9;
Start page: 2176;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: adaptation | climate change | vulnerability | flooding | inundation | planning process | participatory planning | resilience | sea level rise | visualization | integrated assessment

While the province of British Columbia (BC), Canada, provides guidelines for flood risk management, it is local governments’ responsibility to delineate their own flood vulnerability, assess their risk, and integrate these with planning policies to implement adaptive action. However, barriers such as the lack of locally specific data and public perceptions about adaptation options mean that local governments must address the need for adaptation planning within a context of scientific uncertainty, while building public support for difficult choices on flood-related climate policy and action. This research demonstrates a process to model, visualize and evaluate potential flood impacts and adaptation options for the community of Delta, in Metro Vancouver, across economic, social and environmental perspectives. Visualizations in 2D and 3D, based on hydrological modeling of breach events for existing dike infrastructure, future sea level rise and storm surges, are generated collaboratively, together with future adaptation scenarios assessed against quantitative and qualitative indicators. This ‘visioning package’ is being used with staff and a citizens’ Working Group to assess the performance, policy implications and social acceptability of the adaptation strategies. Recommendations based on the experience of the initiative are provided that can facilitate sustainable future adaptation actions and decision-making in Delta and other jurisdictions.
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