POSTPONED: DSC Online Seminar | Working backwards to prepare for climate change

Start date
End date
graph depicting signals and triggers

New research supports decision makers to map out how decisions can be made now for ongoing climate change impacts, by starting with the future we wish to avoid. In this entirely online seminar, you'll hear from report authors Judy Lawrence and Rob Bell about their new research report, Supporting decision making through adaptive tools: Practice Guidance on signals and triggers.

This research has been a multi-disciplinary and multi-institute effort, with team members from Victoria University of Wellington, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, and NIWA. It encourages decision makers to understand how to stage decisions, by identifying “adaptation thresholds” (the future situations we want to avoid), “triggers” (identified moments at which we action a given decision), and “signals” (very early warning bells, that tell us things are beginning to change).

The team’s report is presented as “practice guidance” and complements the existing MfE Coastal Hazards and Climate Change Guidance (2017). These form key tools and processes in the planning toolbox for councils, and for river and coastal hazard managers, looking ahead to a future of sea-level rise, extreme storms, and changing rainfall patterns.

The research presents various methodologies for identifying and tracking signals and triggers. One case study, led by Scott Stephens at NIWA, demonstrates how to identify credible and relevant signals and triggers for coastal flooding, with a monitoring period closely aligned to local government planning mechanisms. A second case study led by Daniel Collins (NIWA), looks at riverine flooding, and explains, for example, the importance of understanding whether chosen signals and triggers successfully warn of an approaching adaptation threshold and give sufficient time to act, while not giving false alarms.

The authors also discuss case studies on both the Hutt and Lower Whanganui Rivers with evidence about common barriers that can slow the uptake of Dynamic Adaptive Pathways Planning across the country. Finally, Nick Cradock-Henry from Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research uses scenarios to stress test the signals and triggers for different future conditions for their relevance, credibility and legitimacy. Paula Blackett from NIWA designed the processes for developing the signals and triggers.

All examples point to the importance of integrating local knowledge and local interests, as well as social, cultural, economic and environmental conditions into the design of signals and triggers.

This research complements existing Dynamic Adaptive Pathways Planning resources. The report authors are clear that for this kind of planning different kinds of technical expertise are required based in science, policy and the practice of engagement.

About our presenters

Dr Judy Lawrence is Senior Research Fellow at the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute, Victoria University of Wellington and Director of PS Consulting Ltd. Judy is an expert in the development and application of climate change adaptation decision tools, collaborating across New Zealand and internationally through the Resilience Science Challenge and the SeaRise Endeavour Programme. Judy was a co-author of the national Coastal Hazards and Climate Change and currently is a Coordinating Lead Author for the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report and a Commissioner of the New Zealand Climate Change Commission.

Dr Rob Bell is NIWA’s Programme Leader for Climate Impacts & Adaptation. He was the Coordinating Lead Author (with Judy Lawrence) of the 2017 Coastal Hazards and Climate Change guidance for local government published by the Ministry for the Environment and was a contributing author of the recent implementation guidance on the coastal hazard policies in the NZ Coastal Policy Statement, published by the Department of Conservation. Rob has considerable experience in coastal environmental impact studies and coastal engineering project design.


Virtual hui: 

This seminar has been postponed, while we work through how best to keep in touch with stakeholders at this unprecedented time. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us: [email protected] 

Start date
Mon, 07/13/2020 - 12:00
End date

Programme type: Earth Systems Modelling and Prediction Engagement Impacts and Implications Processes and Observations Vision Mātauranga