28 October 12.00-13.00
Speakers: Robert Nicholls (Tyndall Centre, UEA) and Charlotte Thompson (respondent) for the CoastalRes Consortium
Resilience – or the ability to bounce back – is often stated as a desirable attribute of coastal systems and, as a concept, is increasingly prominent in policy documents. However, there are conflicting ideas on what constitutes resilience and its operationalisation within the framework of coastal management.
In this webinar, we show how coastal resilience to flood and erosion hazard could be measured and applied within policy-making processes, using England as a case study. We define resilience pragmatically, in economic, environmental and social terms, integrating what is presently a disparate set of policy objectives. Our definition includes several dimensions of resilience and we develop a set of composite indicators for each of these, grounded empirically with reference to national geospatial datasets.
A prototype tool generates a quantitative resilience index for a given geographical unit (England’s coastal zone being represented by about 8,000 such areal units). A range of different stakeholder perspectives are captured in the prototype tool using relative indicator weightings. Our preliminary results demonstrate the practical challenges in formalising and quantifying resilience, and the insights obtained mainly concern this process of operationalisation.
To re-focus national policy around the stated desire of enhancing resilience to flood and erosion hazard would require firm commitment from government to develop a consensus methodology, including agreed weightings of the component indicators, and to establish the incentives for coastal managers to engage with and apply this new approach. Such a transition would challenge existing governance arrangements, requiring more integration and inter-agency co-operation. However, it could provide a robust evidence-based framework for achieving more sustainable, equitable and societally acceptable adaptive responses to climate change at the coast.