Greetings and thank you for the opportunity to be involved in this important conversation.
I want to focus on working with communities to plan for sea level rise.
Christchurch District has close to 400 km of coastline – much of this is low-lying, and includes open coasts, rivers and estuaries.
Thousands of houses and significant public and private infrastructure is located on our coastline.
Around 25,000 properties could be exposed to flooding over the next 120 years.
Much of the affected land was also impacted by the 2010-2011 Canterbury Earthquakes – with some areas made more vulnerable to sea level rise, as the land subsided by up to a metre.
As well as impacting on the land, the earthquakes created significant challenges for people in our communities, which affected levels of trust in institutions.
We learned a lot of lessons from the earthquakes about how to engage with communities about challenging issues. Our approach to coastal hazards planning is heavily focused on the following elements:
Bringing the community into the planning from the outset – after the earthquakes the government led a process of ‘unmanaged retreat’ (red zoning) which was reactionary and top down. Now we have time to plan ahead with communities for how we might adapt to or retreat from some areas in a managed way.
We are simplifying complex scientific information and presenting it in different ways, both written and visual.
We are having face to face discussions – and using community leaders to lead those discussions where possible.
We are seeking out diverse voices, including children and young people, because these issues will impact more significantly on them.
And we are working in partnership with our first nations peoples - Ngai Tahu
We are establishing Coastal Panels in each of the areas where adaptation planning will occur, and they will include a diverse group of community members.
The panels will gain an understanding of coastal hazards and work through a process of weighing up adaptation options and pathways by considering the ecological, cultural and social impacts of these options and how these impacts are balanced against community values.
A Specialist and Technical Advisory Group of experts will provide advice to support their decision-making.
We hope that by collaborating with community and partnering with first nations peoples, we will develop plans that meet both Council and community expectations.
Finally I would like to show you a video from the Christchurch Coastal Hazards online portal, which shows how we are trying to make what can be difficult conversations accessible to our communities.