Stepping back: a look at managed retreat in NZ

  • YEAR
    Bloomfield, Sibyl E. M.
    2018 Conference Papers
    Architectural Science: Cities and Outdoor Environments
    Conference Papers


In 1990 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change proposed the adaptation strategies of Protect, Accommodate and Retreat, and these were adopted and incorporated into New Zealand’s national policy. This paper investigates the practice of managed retreat in New Zealand, with the aim to understand how the strategy has been implemented in the coastal environment. Some local councils have faced vociferous opposition from those who are affected by the implementation of ‘managed retreat’ as a preferred coastal hazard management strategy. Coastal property is highly valued, and this financial and social investment in the coastal edge is increasingly being threatened by climate related change. Managed retreat both threatens and aspires to protect the significant role the coast plays in New Zealand’s social identity. The challenges of implementing, even openly discussing these ‘retreat’ strategies in an urban residential context in NZ are yet to be fully realised. The resistance to managed retreat appears to be economic, barely veiled as socio-cultural concerns. Should not socio-ecological resilience take precedence?


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