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NSW Adaptation Research Hub - Adaptive Communities Node

Welcome to the webpage of the Adaptive Communities Node of the New South Wales (NSW) Adaptation Research Hub.  On this page you will find information about who we are, what the research entails and recent reports and publications related to the research. 

We welcome any queries or feedback related to our research program.  Please contact the Project Director or Manager (details under the Staff profiles below).

Project overview

This three year research node examining the process of community adaptation within the State of New South Wales (NSW), commenced in August 2013.  The research is being led by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney in collaboration with the CSIRO- Climate Adaptation Flagship.  The $2.75 million research node is funded by the NSW Office of the Environment and Heritage.  The hub also consists of two other nodes which includes the:

Research themes

Many of the impacts of climate change and variability have or will be felt at the local level; affecting communities, governance structures and key natural and physical assets.  The overall aim of the research node is to explore pathways of increasing the capacity of communities to adapt to such impacts and inform how government can service the changing and ongoing needs of adapting communities.  Specifically, the research aims to:

  • Expand knowledge of how communities adapt and respond to current climate variability and future climate change,
  • Explore community requirements from government to become more resilient to the impacts of climate change,
  • Explore options in which government can engage with communities and support community action.

In doing so the research focuses on three key sub-themes which include:

  1. Improving the community-policy-science interface: A central aspect of this sub-theme will be to work with target communities, decision-makers and scientists to establish the most effective options for improving climate change adaptation action. In doing so, the research will build on concepts relating to climate adaptation pathways by looking at the relationship between community values, existing knowledge (formal and informal) and current/future policy.
  2. Pathways to transformational adaptation and meta-learning for community adaptation: This sub-theme explores the pathways and tools needed to enhance community level adaptation in NSW. It focusses on what theory tells us about systems that are resilient, in transition or transforming and the applicability of theory to social systems. This sub-theme will also examine the utility/robustness of a range of existing tools to stimulate, understand, monitor and evaluate community adaptation when applied to multi-stakeholder/multidisciplinary contexts. Exploring how government services the changing and ongoing needs of adapting communities is a major feature of the Adaptive Communities Node.
  3. Regional Innovation Systems: A Regional Innovation System (RIS) is defined as a group of organisations (enterprises, research centres, development agencies, development institutions, higher education institutes, etc.) and individuals producing knowledge, through research and development and collective learning activities This sub-theme focuses on the analysis of businesses and organisations and will work with selected communities in NSW to investigate local RIS and assess the pre-conditions within these communities for transformative change; change that results not just in survival but successful adaptation.

Staff Profiles

ISF team:

Dr Brent Jacobs (ISF) - Project Director and chief investigator on
sub-themes 1, 2 & 3

Dr Natasha Kuruppu (ISF) – Project Manager and chief investigator in sub-theme 2

Dr Samantha Sharpe (ISF) – Chief investigator on sub-theme 3.

CSIRO team:

Ben Harman (CSIRO) – Chief Investigator on sub-theme 1 and Knowledge Broker across three themes

Dr Tom Measham (CSIRO) – Chief Investigator on sub-theme 2

Dr Peter Brown (CSIRO) – Chief Investigator on sub-theme 2

Events and Publications

The Climate Adapted People Shelters (CAPS) project has initiated collaborative, design-led approaches to reimagining the place and function of bus shelters, specifically in response to conditions of increasing urban heat and extreme weather events in Western Sydney. This Report contributes to the research outputs of the project, with a focus on the current and potential uses of smart infrastructure technologies within bus shelter designs. Looking ahead, research into potential areas for future investigation has also been undertaken, with a view to informing ideas and strategies for future investment in urban heat mitigation activities in Western Sydney. CAPS has been a collaboration between the University of Technology Sydney’s (UTS) Institute for Sustainable Futures, U.lab and Centre for Management & Organisation Studies, the Adaptive Communities Node of the NSW Climate Adaptation Research Hub and the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University (WSU). The project is supported through the Building Resilience to Climate Change grants scheme, funded by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and the NSW Environmental Trust and administered by Local Government NSW.

Cunningham, R., Jacobs, B., Measham, T., Harman, MP Cvitanovic, C. (2017) Social network analysis: a primer on engaging communities on climate adaptation in New South Wales, Australia, UTS:ISF, Australia. 

Harman, B.P, Rylance, K., Brown, P.R, Cunningham, R., Jacobs B. and Measham, T. (2016), Engaging local communities in climate adaptation: a social network perspective from Orange Valley, New South Wales, Australia, CSIRO, Australia. 

Harman, B.P., Cunningham, R., Cvitanovic, C., Jacobs B. and Measham, T. (2015), Community based perspectives on climate change and adaptation in the Shoalhaven region, New South Wales, Australia, CSIRO, Australia. 

Harman, B.P, Cunningham, R., Jacobs B., Measham, T. and Cvitanovic, C. (2015), Engaging local communities in climate adaptation: a social network perspective from Bega Valley, New South Wales, Australia, CSIRO, Australia. 

Jacobs, B. and Boronyak-Vasco, L. (2015) Natural Resources Planning for Climate Change: Extreme Climate Events and Communities, report prepared for South East Local Land Services. 

Cunningham, R. Cvitanovic, C., Measham, T., Jacobs, B., Dowd, AM, and Harman, B. (2014) A preliminary assessment into the utility of social networks for engaging local communities in climate adaptation policy: working paper prepared for NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, Sydney, Australia. 

Cvitanovic, C., Clunn, R., Jacobs, B., Williams, C., and Measham, T. (2014). An Introduction to Social Networks for Engaging the Community in Climate Policy.  Node for Adaptive Communities report to New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage.  

Measham, T., Jacobs, B., and Brown P.R. (2014). Meta Learning from past adaptation. Node for Adaptive Communities report to New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage.  

Jacobs, B., Boronyak, L., Dunford, S., Kuruppu, N., Lewis, B. and Lee, C. 2014, ‘Towards a resilient Sydney – supporting collective action to adapt sub national government services to regional climate change’, 3rd International Conference on Climate Change & Social Issues, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 30 July - 1 August 2014.