Australia's Adaptation Good Practice Project

David Rissik, Nev Reis
Created: 1/27/2014 - Updated: 3/02/2020


To help practitioners learn from the experience of others the Adaptation Good Practice (AGP) project was designed to provide tangible, practical, real-life examples of adaptation processes or activities that could be used to leverage or model practices in other jurisdictions or organizations.

Sixteen exemplar case studies and nominated examples of AGP from across Australia have been produced to help guide future actions. They cover different levels of government, industry, approaches at a variety of spatial scales, and initiatives being taken at different phases of adaptation research, planning, and implementation.


Our environment is sensitive to climate variations. We only have to look back over the last few years to see how the climate is changing. We have experienced extreme weather events - droughts, floods, and bushfires - across large areas of Australia. With increasing evidence that we can expect more of the same, we need to take action to adapt our environment, systems, and society.

Adapting to climate change is a relatively new concept to many. It is important to learn from practitioners who are undertaking adaptation activities that are beginning to have tangible outcomes. Documenting examples of good practice and identifying the criteria that makes them work, enables those interested in adaptation to learn how to take action.

Over the last decade a number of local governments, corporations, and community groups have taken steps to manage the impacts of climate change. As a result, there is an emerging body of practices and tools that provide potential exemplars for practitioners and organizations considering ways to deal with the risks from climate change impacts.

To help practitioners learn from the experience of others, the Adaptation Good Practice project provides tangible, practical, real-life examples of adaptation processes or activities that could be used to leverage or model practices in other jurisdictions or organizations. Over 150 examples of adaptation good practice were sourced during an initial research phase, and out of these, 16 were chosen to be showcased in the AGP project. These case studies considered climate change impacts including: sea level rise, coastal erosion, inundation/coastal flooding, rising saline water tables, and effects on biodiversity, agriculture, water management, and coastal communities. These impacts are variously addressed through development and implementation of strategies, action plans, tools and on-ground actions in partnership with a range of organizations and generally supported by community engagement programs.

The AGP project used five Critical Success Factors as measures of the value of the case studies in embodying the key approaches to adaptation needed to ensure successful outcomes. The Critical Success Factors are:

Leadership - the commitment and contribution of the senior executives, project managers and the community and/or stakeholders to effecting positive changes.

Engagement - the extent and mechanisms of communication, engagement and collaboration with stakeholders, the range of stakeholders, and the partnerships established to develop good practices.

Connectivity – internal and external organizational relationships. Internal connectivity refers to the extent of integration of the project and outcomes with other internal processes (planning, risk management, implementation strategies) within the organization. External connectivity refers to opportunities for collaboration with local, regional, statewide or national organizations and the ability of the project outcomes to be transferred to or used by other organizations.

Sustainability - provision of long-term benefits. Environmental, economics, and social sustainability is considered in terms of the principles of intergenerational equity and subsidiarity (good governance) and ability to avoid maladaptation (adverse consequences).

Cost - total cost of the project, the balance between expenditure and benefits of good adaptation implementation to meet short-term requirements and anticipate long-term needs, and the use of risk- and cost-benefit-analyses.



We worked with a variety of practitioners and their consultants to gather information about the case studies we selected. We surveyed stakeholders to gather information about what made a project successful. We then integrated the many submissions into five categories. We used these categories as drivers to collect information about each case study. We also collected other information about good practice and this was emphasized in individual case studies and in our synthesis report.  

We ensured that we had substantial review of the case studies, both from the practitioners and some of their stakeholders and through an independent review group we had established for this purpose.

We have held several engagement workshops around Australia to engage people in good practice and get them excited about adaptation. This has included small groups, large group discussions, field trips and presentations. We have also developed a series of videos, which discuss the lessons from the project and includes discussion from case study practitioners about their projects.

This work was funded by the Australian Government and conducted by NCCARF.

Outcomes and Conclusions

It has been a very rewarding project because it has delivered some really interesting case studies and there is substantial interest in the project and its outputs. This project has produced 16 case studies (each of about 8-10 pages), one synthesis report, and a number of video clips. We would like to continue this work to look at similarities between our findings and others around the world, but also hope to continue to build a bigger library of good practice in adaptation around Australia.

The 16 case studies are:


Rissik, D. & Reis, N. (2014) Australia's Adaptation Good Practice Project. Ed. Rachel M. Gregg. [Case study on a project of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF)]. Retrieved from CAKE:… (Last updated January 2014)


Scale of Project
Community / Local
State / Provincial
Sector Addressed
Development (socioeconomic)
Disaster Risk Management
Land Use Planning
Tourism / Recreation
Transportation / Infrastructure
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Capacity Building
Create/enhance resources and tools

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