Design-led Transformation for Climate Extremes

Climate change is re-writing the record book on weather extremes and local communities face the brunt of these impacts. In Australia,  agencies at all levels of government are turning to concepts like resilience to emphasise preventive disaster management. But resilience is a novel concept for Australia’s emergency management institutions and translating it into practice will be challenging.

Design-led Transformation for Climate Extremes (Visions of Resilience) is a VEIL-led research project about working with local communities to envisage and support new strategies to build local resilience to extreme weather events. The project was funded through the Australian Government’s Natural Disaster Resilience Grant Scheme and brought together researchers and designers from VEIL (University of Melbourne), Victoria University, La Trobe University and Wageningen University (The Netherlands).

Despite the level of sophistication in our climate models we have little understanding of what future extremes might involve at the local level. Coupled with the lack of experience in building local resilience, this problem demands significant innovation in the way emergency management helps communities plan for and survive extreme events.

The project used a participatory scenario-based process to explore worst-case climate conditions in two Victorian towns over a 25 year time horizon. The process involved community participants developing challenging propositions for building resilience, many that involved radical change. These propositions (or ‘visions of resilience’) were then used in follow-up workshops involving local and state level agency professionals to identify barriers and challenges to change. Many of these barriers represent important areas for innovation in emergency management. Ultimately, this project showed that building local resilience to climate extremes must be seen as process of social innovation rather than traditional emergency management planning.

For more information, check out the rationale behind the project.

The final report and workshop manual produced for this project are now available for download. You can also view the ideas developed by residents in the two case study towns (Anglesea and Creswick) via the respective links.

Please contact project lead Che Biggs if you have questions: email hidden; JavaScript is required