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Managed retreat of coastal communities: Understanding responses to projected sea level rise

Kim Alexander (), Anthony Ryan and Thomas Measham

No 2011-01, Socio-Economics and the Environment in Discussion (SEED) Working Paper Series from CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems

Abstract: Managed retreat - the relocation of homes and infrastructure under threat from coastal flooding - is one of the few policy options available for coastal communities at risk from sea level rise. A structured withdrawal from areas inundated by rising sea levels may be the only viable option for some jurisdictions and may be the most cost-effective defensive approach. At present, little is known about the attitudes held by Australian residents on possible managed retreat options. The authors explore peoples’ attitudes toward a managed retreat option known as conditional occupancy land rights and whether compensation for land at future risk from sea level rise would be necessary. The authors present a meta-theoretical social functionalist framework to analyse the range of personal concerns and responses to proposed policy options for vulnerable coastal shorelines. Data from an online survey has been used to categorise respondents according to their social functionalist decision-making styles. The study has shown that individuals can act intuitively as scientists, economists, politicians, prosecutors and theologians when subject to situations of judgement and choice. The study compared the responses of climate change rejectionists and those unsure about the risks of sea level rise with those concerned about the risks of sea level rise. The research demonstrated that the majority of respondents considered the risk of sea level rise from multiple functional perspectives more often than from a single perspective. The findings reinforce the need for further public debate on how to respond to sea level rise, and emphasise that different individuals frame the purpose of those debates in distinct ways; to reach the most accurate, optimal and socially acceptable or morally appropriate response, depending upon what is inherently important to them dictated by their social functionalist position.

Keywords: social functionalist theory; sea level rise; managed retreat; coastal management; climate adaptation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q54 Q5 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 36 pages
Date: 2011-01
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Journal Article: Managed retreat of coastal communities: understanding responses to projected sea level rise (2012) Downloads
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