Leading adaptation practices and support strategies for Australia: An international and Australian review of products and tools

Submitted by Michael Rastall | published 20th Mar 2013 | last updated 17th Mar 2020


Australia’s adaptation effort is at a watershed. On the one hand, recent growth in experience and research is supporting progress by early adopters, especially those who have benefited from government seed funding; and there is a gradual increase in private as well as public sector interest across several sectors. On the other, this has not yet brought about systemic change, there has been limited movement from assessment to action, and many of the initial government support programs have reached or are reaching their end point. This places a premium on learning from experience to date, and developing and promulgating good products and services to support organisations and decision makers in their adaptation practice. Otherwise progress will be limited and the gains to date could easily be lost. This report addresses the need for a more intentional approach to providing practical support. It introduces a structured framework and methodology to analyse end user needs and currently available support products and services. This is based on three interrelated lines of project research:

1. the distillation of good adaptation principles based on adaptation research and practice; 

2. the clarification of end user needs based primarily on stakeholder consultation across many sectors, supplemented by the literature, which in this area is fairly sparse; and, 

3. a review of current international and Australian adaptation support products. Drawing on extensive stakeholder engagement through both consultation and workshops, it concludes that there is a significant gap between user needs and what is currently available. This is partly related to the nature and content of the products themselves, but also to lack of guidance on product availability, selection, and appropriate use, and limited user confidence in current process and data products. This is compounded by the fragmentation of effort in developing and supporting adaptation support products and services. The report proposes a number of future adaptation support strategies to address these issues. The product strategies especially address three identified components of user need, each of which requires specific but complementary products:

1. entry level guidance,

2. more complex decision making guidance, and

3. adaptation process assurance, benchmarking, and review. 

They also reflect the need for a number of common or ‘core’ products to be developed and maintained nationally, and the opportunity to make progress in this direction by building on some current initiatives; whilst at the same time stressing that it is crucial to encourage development and delivery of other products that can draw on these common resources, but are customised to the differentiated needs of various sectors, regions and jurisdictions.

A number of enabling strategies are identified to enhance user capabilities and confidence, and the sources of advice in selection and use of products and good practices. Finally, the report addresses the need for a national entity to coordinate and support delivery of the ‘core’ products and services and to facilitate the decentralised development and delivery of customised products and services by other providers. 

The extensive stakeholder engagement and high level of consensus provides confidence in the diagnosis and the need for significant intervention in this area. The proposed strategies and next steps provide a manageable pathway to a coherent and cost-effective response.


Webb, R, Beh, J, 2013 Leading adaptation practices and support strategies for Australia: An international and Australian review of products and tools, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast, pp.120