Coastal resilience paradigms and priorities for the Australia’s east coast

Sano M1, Tomlinson R1

1Griffith University


In the past few years, in Australia and internationally, the mainstream conversation has progressively moved from the idea of vulnerability to the concept of resilience. This shifts clearly reflects the increased impacts and frequency of extreme events, some of which can be attributed to climate change drivers. Perhaps it also reflects human psyche, adding a disaster response and resistance flavour and saving elaborated plans from systematic failure in the face of human nature. This element has been also clearly embedded in coastal engineering decisions, or non-decisions. In particular, it is reflected by the widespread failure of planned retreat policies and the rise of short-term, low-impact and reversible solutions, such as sand-bagging, a typical war-time response to a long-term issue. In Queensland and New South Wales, the concept of resilience is now a central element used by local government to fund their responses to coastal hazards, in particular erosion and inundation. This concept is also central to strategic initiatives (plans and programs) prepared at at the local level to help communities think for the near future but also under future planning horizons (eg. 20, 50 and 100 years) planning horizons. In both states, the resilience planning process is based on a participatory risk-based approach, from understanding what assets (human and natural) are exposed to certain mapped hazards, to the mitigation of their risk by identifying and implementing cost-effective solutions. In our presentation we will discuss examples of coastal interventions, and their effectiveness in mitigating risks and increasing resilience over time.


Dr Marcello Sano is a passionate professional with more than 15 years of experience in environmental, coastal and marine science and management, with a strong focus on coastal hazard risk management and resilience. Marcello has been working across academia, government and consulting in Australia and internationally.