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Are local government's coastal managers prepared to face climate change?

22 July 2019

Jean-Francois Dulong, Flood and Water Officer, Welsh Local Government Association, explains how councils can learn from innovative coastal peers from around the world at ICE's conference in September.

Are local government's coastal managers prepared to face climate change?
La Rochelle, where ICE's Coastal Management Conference is taking place in September 2019

The ongoing threat of major impacts to our coastline and coastal communities is becoming one of the big challenges facing local authorities in the 21st century.

In the UK alone, the last decade has seen an increase in major coastal storms with devastating and long-lasting effects. These have also triggered local authorities to review the business-as-usual approach to coastal management, as well as the fine line between economic development, prosperity and sustainable long-term decisions with communities at the heart of decision making.

Climate change isn’t new!

Of course it isn’t, and while coastal managers understand the science behind it and what the numbers tell us, measuring the impacts of these scenarios at a local level to identifying a suitable range of adaptive measures is becoming very challenging in the current climate of ongoing budget pressures, diminishing resources and the range of skills required for local authorities to deliver.

What can we learn from around the world at the ICE Coastal Management Conference?

Governments, scientists, academics, private and public sector organisations from around the world are slowly waking up to the challenges and realising that we must act now as the future is suddenly fast approaching.

Identifying alternatives to hard engineering is pushing coastal managers and other stakeholders into uncharted waters and outside of our comfort zone - we need to look for innovation and most importantly public and political buy-in.

The ICE Coastal Management Conference 2019 will bring together over 50 speakers from around the world, presenting some of the best and most innovative projects and methods currently being used by coastal managers and those involved in managing our coastline and moving forward with coastal communities.

I work for a local council, how is this of any use to me?

One of the biggest challenges facing local government officers is long-term planning.

How can I plan and budget for 10 or 20 years ahead when my budget won’t stretch until the end of the financial year? How can I argue the case for additional funding and resources for an adaptation project that’s politically unattractive and how do I go about understanding the scale of the challenge ahead!

The ICE conference will provide you with some answers to your questions, but most importantly with tested materials and approaches from those who are facing the same challenges and have previously asked the same questions.

Consider the three-day programme as a menu where you can pick and choose the methods most suited to your needs to help you build up the toolkit and knowledge necessary to kick start your project or drive change in your authority.

Above all, the conference is a fantastic opportunity to engage and share your ideas with some of the best professionals in the field of coastal management. It's about making new links and contacts which you will be able to contact in the future whenever the need arises.

Read about Coastal Management 2019

  • Jean-Francois Dulong, Flood & Water Officer, Welsh Local Government Association