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Local Government Climate Change Adaptation Toolkit

Adaptation is not just about the risks to be endured due to climate variability. As the climate is changing so too is the operating environment for councils. Council decision-making processes need to support and strengthen the capacity of staff to identify inherent opportunities that arise from change, as well as the risks.

ICLEI Oceania developed the Local Government Climate Change Adaptation Toolkit with funding from the Australian Government Department of Climate Change.

To download the toolkit and read more on how to use it see the Local Government Climate Change Adaptation Toolkit webpage.

Case Studies

Kogarah City Council, NSW

ICLEI Member Kogarah City Council is located approximately 15 kilometres south of Sydney, on the east coast of Australia. The region is particularly vulnerable to climate change as a result of its low topography, significant development close to the foreshore and ageing assets.

Council was a finalist in the local government 'Excellence in Overall Environmental Management' section of the World Environment Day Awards 2010, nominated for its work with ICLEI Oceania on its Adapting Local Government’s Business to Climate Change strategy.

Download Kogarah case study [PDF 345 KB]

East Gippsland Shire Council, Vic

ICLEI Member East Gippsland Shire Council has areas of high exposure to key climate change impacts due to its extended coastline, a landscape with steep gradients in the Victorian Alps as well as low-lying coastal lagoons.

Through its active involvement with ICLEI Oceania, East Gippsland Shire Council has been able to identify, analyse and evaluate key climate change risks and prioritise areas for adaptation action that are expected to increase the resilience of Council and the community.

Download East Gippsland case study [PDF 335 KB]

Principles for Working on Climate Change Adaptation

If your council will be engaging in a climate change adaptation process, consider adopting the following principles to guide your work:

  • Balance of immediate and long-term needs: Acknowledge that climate change impacts will continue to take shape over the long-term based on our actions today, but they are already emerging. Councils must, therefore, ensure their approach is one that finds a balance between immediate and long-term needs.
  • Interaction must be supplemented with action: Acknowledge that the complexity and transboundary nature of climate change impacts means that many stakeholders will need to act to develop a truly holistic response to those impacts, yet the coordination of such a large number of actors is daunting. Councils must, therefore, commit to driving this Initiative by identifying and following-through on the actions they can undertake themselves or directly influence without getting sidetracked by the role or held back by the inaction of other stakeholders.
  • Commitment to act in the face of uncertainty: Acknowledge the tendency to not act until perfect information is available – and the reality that perfect information on the impacts of climate change will never truly be available as climate change scenarios are being revised and improved regularly. Councils must, therefore, commit to an approach that enables staff to make decisions in the face of uncertainty.

Skills that council staff need to develop to meet these principles are:

  • Clarity – Of what you want to accomplish and how you plan to get there;
  • Creativity – In how you deal with the complexity of climate change impacts; and
  • Courage – In terms of your ability to take action in the face of uncertainty.

Additional skills that have proven extremely useful for councils undertaking this process include:

  • Collaboration – In terms of how open you are to seek out and utilise others’ knowledge;
  • Learning – In terms of examining your underlying assumptions and outcomes and identifying opportunities to improve your approach; and
  • Leadership – In terms of your ability to provide strategic guidance when decisions are difficult and strong governance throughout the process.

Source: CCP Adaptation Initiative (2008)

External Resources

Some valuable links are available, as follows:

Australian Government Department of Climate Change

CSIRO / Bureau of Meteorology Climate Change Projections


  • Preparing for Climate Change: A Guidebook for Local, Regional, and State Governments. By Center for Science in the Earth System, University of Washington; King County, Washington; and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability (2007)