Inspire : Public Works Mar Apr 2013
46 Public Works Professional March-April 2013 [COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE SUSTAINABILITY ] For generations, professionals working in coastal and ocean engineering relied on what seemed to be the safe assumption that the natural environment -- though subject to some variations -- was statistically static. About two decades ago, all that changed. NCCOE, the National Committee of Coastal and Ocean Engineering within Engineers Australia, was one of the frst industry groups to recognise the potential impact of climate change on the work of its professionals. It concluded that the "proven rise" in carbon dioxide levels and the possibility of Earth being subject to a changing climate over engineering timescales has brought some aspects of this basis of design into question. So, in 1991, NCCOE developed the frst guideline for EA relating to climate change related to coastal and ocean engineering. Ongoing work by NCCOE has resulted in the recent 2012 release of three "ground-breaking" guidelines that have become a critical tool in creating practical responses to the effects of climate change on the country's coastlines and built environment. The frst two documents relating to the impacts of climate change and to ecologically sensitive coastal engineering are updates to take into account the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment report. The landmark new third publication, Climate Change Adaptation Guidelines in Coastal Management and Planning, was released in September last year. Associate Professor Ron Cox, the Chair of the guidelines reference group, says Engineers Australia recognises that the changing climate is a key factor affecting coastal management practices in Australia. "Maintaining Australia's social, environmental and economic wellbeing requires a concerted effort to mitigate the effects of climate change, and it is here that the contribution of engineers is so crucial," he says. Cox was involved in the guidelines review from the beginning. The aim was to bring climate change considerations into professional practice, and the guidelines documents are a powerful initiative. "There is a lot of strength in professional associations putting out guideline documents," he says, because of the RISING TIDES, MOUNTING CONCERNS New guidelines are providing "ground- breaking" advice on managing coastal infrastructure and assets during the onset of climate change-driven sea- level rises. BY GILES PARKINSON There is a lot of strength in professional associations putting out guideline documents.
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