Research Project

Tools for decision makers

Supporting decision making in a changing climate

As an island nation with high rainfall, flooding and sea level rise pose threats to economic and social activities on floodplains and at the coast. Decisions in such locations need to be adaptive, to recognise when thresholds may be crossed and to deal with changes before they happen. In this way, decision makers can avoid or reduce the consequent damage and costs.

The mission of the Deep South Challenge was to “enable New Zealanders to adapt, manage risk and thrive in a changing climate”. New and practical tools are always needed to enable decision makers to respond appropriately to climate related impacts, to limit damage and costs to the nation and its communities.

With uncertainty about the timing and magnitude of climate change impacts, local government and infrastructure providers in particular need new and evolving adaptive decision-making tools that take into account changing risk profiles over time. The Dynamic Adaptive Pathways Planning (DAPP) approach is an assessment tool for developing adaptation options. It helps decision makers consider the conditions under which policies will fail to reduce risks, and provides stress-test options using plausible socioeconomic scenarios of the future.

The project focused on flood and sea level rise management. We analysed flood frequency and sea-level rise scenarios, and our research looked at socio-economic scenarios for New Zealand. Together, these enabled us to define socially acceptable decision triggers, enabling decision makers to move towards sustainable, climate-resilient decision pathways.

This approach was first developed in the Netherlands, and follows on from the successful development and application of the DAPP approach with local and regional councils in New Zealand, led by Victoria University of Wellington with support from Ministry for the Environment.

This project in the media: