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I’m really impressed with the direction of the Thames-Coromandel Shoreline Management Planning (SMP) Project. I’ll overlook the fact that participants of the summer survey go in the draw to win a petrol voucher…

The project appears to be based on the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) approach. The European Union has developed eight principles of good ICZM, which are:

  • Broad thematic and geographic perspective
  • Long-term perspective
  • Adaptive management
  • Local specificity
  • Working with natural processes
  • Involving all relevant parties
  • National, regional and local support and involvement
  • Planning and management coherence

The SMP seems to be generally aligned to these principles and shows great promise in helping the Thames-Coromandel community navigate an uncertain coastal future.

However, it tends towards resilience over adaptation. The latter is a bit of a dirty word in planning. This is because resilience is about creating the (perceived) ability to recover while adaptation is about initiating a process of change. Most people prefer to live in the denial afforded by resilience, assuming they can, and will, ‘bounce back’. At least until they are forced to adapt.

The UNFCCC prefers adaptation over resilience. In psychology, resilience is considered a trait and adaptation a state. Embedding adaptation as a core element of shoreline management is therefore an important and transparent way of setting community expectations from the get. It’s the only way to actually become resilient.