The Need for Coastal Reform – A 6 Point Plan

In this article, Envirosafe Solutions reports on the work of Bruce Thom, President of the Australian Coastal Society. The information sourced here was originally presented at the National Coast to Coast Conference in Adelaide in 2010.

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Bruce Thom is a busy man! He is a member of The Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, is Emeritus Professor at the University of Sydney and is also President of the Australian Coastal Society. In his role as ACS President, he delivered a simple six point plan, aimed to help Australia move beyond the current actions at federal and state levels, and introduce greater institutional changes that will help us contend with the increasing threat to our coastal livelihoods and lifestyles by way of population growth and climate change.

In National Coastal Reform – 2010 and Beyond[1] Thom relays the sad notion that climate science has in fact become a “combat sport” particularly since the failure of the Copenhagen Climate Conference in 2009. At that point, the tide turned somewhat, and the credibility of climate science was undermined to some extent, leading the way for the vocal onslaught from the climate science skeptics, both nationally and globally.

As a reply to the growing skepticism, his 6 point plan proposes 2 x 3 sub-plans – one of which focuses on the need for climate change driven adaptation initiatives, and the other focusing on coastal adaptation issues.  While he maintains none are necessarily original, they are at least sourced from novel ideas floated by such bodies as the House of Representatives Committee, The Wentworth Group, the Australian Coastal Society and the Sea Change Task Force.[2]

The six points are:

  • A Futures Fund especially reserved to cope with the extreme impacts and tipping points associated with and arising from climate change. (Massive protective works may be needed in future to protect coastal regions and the coastal ribbon developments around Australia.
  • Regionally Based Environmental Accounts developed into a national system – as proposed by The Wentworth Group.[3] These would reinforce consistent measurement of direction and rate of change in natural assets as the new climate era starts to really hit.
  • Legal Reform so that coastal land can be reconsidered as “transient land” as opposed to a fixed entity. A new approach to land tenure, property law and common law rights that is more flexible and able to deal with the dynamic and shifting nature of coastal landforms and regions as climate change hits. (An extreme case of this is currently occurring in low-lying Pacific Islands that are already lost to water-level rises.)
  • Coastal Reforms in the form of an intergovernmental agreement on coastal management and planning. In effect, what is required is a National Coastal Policy that unites state and federal governments in their approach to coastal management issues that impact the future.
  • National Coastal Information System – based on the US model whereby techniques of various coastal and science bodies (Eg. CSIRO, AIMS, Geoscience Australia, various universities) pool and integrate information to underpin a sustained coastal observing system.
  • National Coastal Commission to be based on a national coastal act that has the capacity to advise, act and technically support governments in a nationally consistent and coordinated manner.[4]

The 6 point plan pulls together a number of different ideas in order to propose a blueprint for unified national coastal management in the years to come, particularly as sea-levels begin to rise, and we are impacted increasingly by issues such as receding coastlines, land erosion and threat to property and coastal habitation.  Envirosafe Solutions has long advocated respect for the sea, hence the development of their eco-friendly liquids that are reduced in phosphates and other harsh chemicals that can impact the environment adversely.

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[1] address in C2C 2010.pdf

[2] Ibid.


[4] Thom, B. National Coastal Reform 2010 and Beyond address in C2C 2010.pdf