Restraints of change : limits to 'managed retreats' in Aotearoa New Zealand
Hanna, C. J. (2019). Restraints of change : limits to ‘managed retreats’ in Aotearoa New Zealand (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12896
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12896
Managed retreat is an important strategy for natural hazard risk reduction and climate change adaptation, but its operationalisation brings many challenges, even when it is compelling. With significant built, cultural and infrastructural assets sited on low lying coastal land, and settlements traversing fault lines, flood plains, volcanic fields, and debris flow fans, remedying unsustainable land use patterns is essential to building societal resilience. To progress managed retreat from rhetoric to reality, however, New Zealand’s governance framework must be fit for purpose. The decision-making challenge for managed retreat in New Zealand rests predominantly with environmental planning and the mandated promotion of sustainable management of natural and physical resources. The focus of this research is to examine the role of environmental planning in enabling managed retreat in New Zealand, identify and analyse the potential mechanisms available, and consider opportunities to improve practice. Quantitative and qualitative methods are applied to investigate the function and effect of the various instruments able to influence the practice of managed retreat, identify significant barriers and enablers, ascertain public perceptions towards policy, and consider governance constraints and the prospects to build institutional capacity. The research finds that the term ‘managed retreat’ incorporates a broad array of regulatory and financial mechanisms, with the potential to reduce exposure to a range of natural hazards and disruptive environmental changes across space and time. Although the current institutional framework has elements that can address future managed retreat of new development, instruments and support for managing legacy land uses are weak. Policy learning is occurring nationwide, but fragmentation and a lack of strong and consistent direction hinders effective management of risk. Important contributions of the research include a detailed interrogation of managed retreat in policy, analysis of the significant constraints hindering its application and acceptance in New Zealand, and the development of new opportunities to pursue managed retreat in a more effective, equitable, responsive, and robust manner. A governance framework provides a foundation to better examine and consider the various types of ‘managed retreats’ which align to the nature of the problem. It also helps shed light on the areas where research, law, and policy is currently lacking, in order to continue to answer the difficult questions of managed retreat by whom, how, when, and who pays? Overall, this research exposes the complexities inherent in a diverse array of managed retreats, which at present are constrained by a range of socio-political-cultural, economic, and institutional barriers, requiring new arrangements of the law, planning, and funding mechanisms, and potentially, alternative governance modes. Retreat is inevitable in certain local and global environs—how it is delivered will determine the success of its outcomes and ultimately, the resilience of current and future generations. Bridging the gap between managed retreat theory and practice to increase resilience is essential.
The University of Waikato
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