This paper examines barriers and opportunities for climate change adaptation in an urban coastal setting where adaptation is in its infancy. It draws on a diagnostic framework as a foundation for identifying and organising barriers and opportunities in terms of three broad phases of the adaptation process, i.e. (1) understanding the problem, (2) planning adaptation options and (3) managing implementation of such options. Data come from the analysis of documents (e.g. policy, plans and reports) and a survey of 49 representatives from 42 organisations (e.g. government, environmental non-governmental organisations, businesses and local industry and professional associations). Nineteen barriers and/or opportunities pertaining to the different phases of the adaptation process were identified. Three of those barriers (i.e. competing priorities, existing management context and existing ecological context) are our additions to the initial list of common barriers proposed in the diagnostic framework. Barriers pertaining to the understanding phase were the most frequently noted by respondents. The understanding phase was also one which most of the barriers were nevertheless considered as opportunities. Emerging critical barriers and/or opportunities for climate change adaptation included perception of signal, availability and accessibility of information, existing management context and leadership. We propose that addressing these barriers and opportunities would involve improving perception about climate change and availability and accessibility of information, fostering anticipatory planned adaptation through the existing management context and developing leadership for adaptation. Findings from this study may prove useful to other jurisdictions, particularly those where climate adaptation is at its early stages of development.
Regional Environmental Change / Vol. Article in press