The science vs action investment gap in coastal climate adaptation – how can coastal climate action get the dollars and expertise needed?

Ms Jacquie White1, Ms Jeska Dee

1Association of Bayside Municipalities, Melbourne, Australia


Over many years we’ve seen federal and state led investment in research, inquiries, hazard assessments and tools to improve our understanding of climate change risks on the coast. This investment is rarely matched with investment in local action – taking the science to the sand.

This paper will explore the gap between investment in science versus action on coastal climate change based on the Port Phillip Bay / local government experience (Melbourne, Victoria).

Investment in research, reports, inquiries and tools is critical for coastal managers.  However, without investment and support the translation of science into action falls short.

Invariably the risks, responsibility and expectation to deliver is left to local government.  Councils do not have the scientists or specialist skills, or capability needed, nor the means to fund it.  This is beyond any council budget.

There is still a fair way to go in maximising our investment in science and research by funding  evidence-based action.  Success will require collaborative partnerships where risks and costs are shared, and investment in capability and action is a priority.


Jacquie has held senior executive roles in the coastal, water and emergency services sectors, leading the establishment significant strategic planning and business development initiatives; capacity building and organisational culture transformations in new, small and large scale organisations and not for profit associations.  As the Executive Officer of the Association of Bayside Municipalities (Melbourne, Victoria) Jacquie works with the ten councils around Port Phillip Bay leading their advocacy and action on coastal climate adaption and coastal planning and management. Jacquie has a background in environmental management and stakeholder engagement, working across multiple professional perspectives to building collaborative partnerships that build knowledge and capability, and drive change.

Jeska has a background in wetland and waterway rehabilitation and operational coastal management such as cleaning programs, vegetation management, horticulture and coastal infrastructure. She also has significant experience in strategic coastal planning and project management which has included providing expert professional advice and guidance to Councils and the community in relation to coastal policy, planning and management. She is passionate about working with the community and stakeholders to deliver sustainable outcomes for marine and coastal environments. Jeska is currently the Chair of the Australian Coastal Society Victorian Chapter.