Managing and communicating coastal adaptation costs, benefits and trade-offs – A Noosa case study

Mr Martijn Gough1, Mr Grant Hinner2

1Aither, Melbourne, Australia, 2Noosa Shire Council, Tewantin, Australia


Climate change is increasing the risks of coastal erosion and flooding upon tangible assets, such as buildings and infrastructure, and intangible community values such as recreational opportunities. The Noosa Council Coastal Hazards Adaptation Plan (CHAP) seeks to identify coastal hazard areas, understand vulnerabilities and risks to a range of assets, assign appropriate responses, and engage with the community on an ongoing basis. The plan sets out the council’s and the community’s preferred approach to adaptation and determine the costs, priorities and timeframes for implementation.

During the options assessment phase, a range of potential adaptation measures to reduce future risks were identified. However, making and communicating adaptation decisions is complex and challenging. Adaptation options often include trade-offs and present a range of costs and benefits to different stakeholders. For example, protection of tangible assets such as properties and infrastructure can increase the risks to intangible assets such as recreation and non-use values.

Grant Hinner from Noosa Council will discuss the key challenges and requirements for undertaking a CHAP, the complexity of decision-making faced by the council, as well the importance of managing community and stakeholder expectations and engagement.

Martijn Gough from Aither will discuss how economic analysis of adaptation options can provide clarity on the costs and benefits to the community, support decision-making and highlight the importance of valuing intangible community benefits. He will also discuss some of the limitations of cost-benefit analysis, and how it can be used most appropriately.


Grant is the Program Coordinator for Climate Change Adaptation at Noosa Council. He has a diverse skill set in program management, performance reporting, policy development and stakeholder engagement formed across the climate change and sustainability spectrum within the infrastructure, mining, real estate and government sectors.

Martijn is an economist and public policy specialists. He has led a number of economic assessments of coastal adaptation strategies in Australia and internationally. He has prior experience at the Department of Treasury and Finance and as an adaptation specialist for the United Nations Development Programme.