An assessment of Australia’s existing statutory frameworks, associated institutions, and policy processes: do they support or impede national adaptation planning and practice?

Australia’s capacity to adapt to climate change will to a very great extent rely on our institutions of governance, associated policy processes, laws, organisational arrangements and administrative procedures. However, at this point in time we don’t know what institutions are important, how these may limit or enable adaptation, or what specific institutional, governance and policy process reforms might be needed. In this project, we examine Australia’s preparedness for climate adaptation, by undertaking a nation-wide analysis of key Australian laws, policies and institutions to determine whether they currently support or inhibit adaptation responses. In other words, we are asking: are we prepared for climate adaptation or do we have more work to do? Where there is more work to be done, we will identify opportunities for appropriate reforms, including whether we may need new institutions to deal with climate adaptation. Ultimately, the results from this research will make a significant contribution to the development and implementation of Australia's strategic national adaptation policy.

The objectives of the project are to:

  • assess the extent to which current policies and institutional arrangements promote or impede climate adaptation, in practice
  • make a significant contribution to the development and implementation of a strategic national policy framework.

The project will deliver much-needed knowledge and understanding on:

  • where and how existing statutory and institutional arrangements should be reformed or utilised to promote climate adaptation
  • where new statutory or institutional institutions may be necessary
  • the core features of these
  • the most appropriate agency to carry out those reforms. 


October 2011 – December 2012 


This project is carried out with financial support from the Australian Government (Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) and the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.

Other non Fenner School members

  • Dr Richard Price (ANU)
  • Professor Steve Hatfield Dodds (CSIRO)
  • Professor Douglas Fisher (QUT)
  • Dr Phillip Wallis (Monash University)

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