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Working with IAP2 to Raise the Profile of our Engagement Capability

Working with IAP2 to raise the profile of our engagement capability

With the Boffa Miskell team.

The Boffa Miskell’s Dunedin team led a local engagement network session on the theme of ‘Our Changing Future’. Rachael Eaton, Senior Principal, helped to organise the event in partnership with IAP2 Australasia and facilitated the session at the Otago Museum.

The session was part of the #IAP2conversationseries and Boffa Miskell sponsored the event together with GHD. Attendees included Dunedin City Council, Otago Regional Council, Kainga Ora and other local engagement practitioners.

The line-up of speakers included Sam Parsons, Boffa Miskell Climate Change Specialist, and Jonathan Rowe, Programme Manager for South Dunedin Future at Dunedin City Council as the keynote speaker.

One of the most significant changes likely to occur in Dunedin’s social and physical landscape will be delivered through South Dunedin Future a joint Dunedin City Council and Otago Regional Council Project.

Located on historically reclaimed coastal wetlands with a groundwater table less than half a metre in some areas, the low- lying modern South Dunedin is particularly vulnerable to the effects of sea-level rise and heavy rainfall events. With about 13,500 people and 1,500 businesses calling the area home, proactive planning is required in the face of a series of near-term climate change risks.

Jonathan Rowe discussed the climate change risks faced in South Dunedin and the need to develop a climate change adaption strategy for that part of the city, he acknowledged this would involve detailed technical work and extensive community engagement over coming years.

“Jonathan’s key messages were that dealing with the impacts of climate change will be a complex process, with lots of uncertainties as the area grapples with impacts of climate hazards’’ says Sam Parsons. “Engaging people in the development of the adaptation process will be critical to deliver the right outcomes.’’

Socially-driven processes, such as the Dynamic Adaptive Planning Pathways approach, are critical in supporting communities through the often-difficult journey. In highly exposed coastal locations like South Dunedin, the long-term requirements to deliver a managed retreat away from the vulnerable coastal zone challenges community values and peoples’ attachment to place.

Better outcomes can be achieved by facilitating a transparent process in which stakeholders can identify the community values that are to be upheld and co-design adaptation options, in response to the challenging issues presented by climate change.

The major takeaway for the team was that time – often years – is needed to build trust and respect with communities and that engagement isn’t a one-off event. Climate change adaptation involves complex issues and a range of emotions. Time is needed to help shift the conversations from outcry to acknowledgement, acceptance, and participation in our changing future.

Rachael was delighted by the turnout on the day and the conversations it provoked.

“We’re experiencing a lot of change in Dunedin, with projects on the horizon such as the new Dunedin Hospital, roll out of a new landfill, resource recovery park and waste collection system, and upgrades to the central city and road network,’’ says Rachael.

“Together with the climate change adaptation planning work that is happening in South Dunedin there are many quite difficult conversations happening within our communities. To achieve the best outcome for our community it’s important that local engagement practitioners share knowledge and learnings. We plan to hold these sessions regularly.’’