A new 10-point framework will improve the resilience of urban communities throughout Australia against extreme weather events and anticipated future climate change.
Launching the framework at the Built Environment Meets Parliament Summit in Canberra on Wednesday, David Parken, chair of the Climate Change Task Group and CEO of the Australian Institute of Architects, says the framework will help architects, engineers and other professionals involved in urban planning to design cities to better withstand the likely impacts of climate change.
“The experts agree that climate change is happening and Australia, with its experience of floods, droughts, storms, and bushfires, can anticipate an increase in general temperatures and an upsurge in extreme weather events which all have an impact on our buildings and communities,” Parken says.
“While industry and the community have their roles to play, it is government, the manager of Australia’s regulatory and public policy systems, that needs to show leadership. This document [the framework] outlines effective steps the government can take to protect Australia’s economic and environmental sustainability.”
The new framework sets out 10 guiding principles with regard to the approach governments should take in working with industry to improve the resilience of Australian cities to climate change threats.
It calls on the government to engage with industry members by establishing a National Built Environment Adaption Council, to lead by example and implement adaptation strategies in its own operations, and to sponsor research, invest in education, review building standards and provide incentives for private sector actions to adapt to climate change.
In a statement, the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council says Australia’s continuing prosperity depends largely upon our level of resilience to climate change, and that despite some positive measures to address mitigation, adaptation remains low on the policy agenda.
ASBEC President, Tom Roper says that by implementing adaptation strategies now, governments and individuals will benefit in the longer term, through minimisation of the adverse impacts experienced during extreme weather events.
“Suburbs and buildings are still being designed and created based on past climatic experience when we should be thinking of how they will respond to future climatic events, so we can be resilient in 20, 30, 40 years down the track,” Roper says.
Roper says a coordinated, well-resourced and nationally consistent suite of policies is essential in ensuring that the built environment is protected from anticipated climate change.
He says the new framework, which offers a road map for the government to work with all relevant stakeholder groups, will facilitate this.
Australia is just one of a growing number of countries to give serious consideration about how best to adapt urban design policies to improve resilience to climate change.
Earlier this month, for example, a leading politician in the West African nation of Ghana called on engineers in his country to conduct research into how best to protect buildings and infrastructure from likely climate change consequences in coming decades.