Natasha Kuruppu has more than 10 years’ experience in environmental management. She currently works across ISF’s climate change adaptation and water research areas as a project manager and researcher on projects promoting policy reform, integrated resource planning and sustainable resource management.
One of Natasha’s areas of expertise is in the areas of climate change adaptation in the water sector and its interactions with development. She recently undertook Doctoral research in the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati, examining the process of enhancing the adaptive capacity of water management. This work was part of a national Kiribati Adaptation Project funded through the UNFCCC and administered by the World Bank, and aims to integrate adaptation within climate vulnerable sectors.
Natasha also recently project managed and co-led two national adaptation research projects examining cross-scale barriers to adaptation within local government, and the adaptive capacity of small businesses in Australia. She was also key advisor to an adaptation project focusing on disaster management systems and human resources for health in the Pacific Islands. These three projects were funded by the National Climate Change Research Facility (NCCARF).
Natasha is currently project managing and a lead investigator on a three-year project focusing on community adaptation in New South Wales funded by Office of Environment and Heritage.
Prior to joining the Institute, Natasha designed and assisted in developing a Climate Adaptation Plan for a local council in Sydney, working with government, business and communities across the Council area. Natasha has also worked in the water and energy sectors, providing environmental management advice across diverse projects ranging from capital works, for example construction of substations, to undertaking studies to enhance wastewater treatment processes. She has also worked as an AusAID volunteer providing environmental advice on a solid waste management project for a coastal village in Sri Lanka and developing a micro-credit programme to enhance rural livelihoods.
Kuruppu, N & Willie, R 2015, 'Barriers to reducing climate enhanced disaster risks in Least Developed Country-Small Islands through anticipatory adaptation', Weather and Climate Extremes, vol. 7, pp. 72-83.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) classified as Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are particularly vulnerable to the projected impacts of climate change. Given their particular vulnerabilities, climate adaptation investments are being made through both national and international efforts to build the capacity of various sectors and communities to reduce climate risks and associated disasters. Despite these efforts, reducing climate risks is not free of various challenges and barriers. This paper aims to synthesise a set of critical socio-economic barriers present at various spatial scales that are specific to Least Developed Country SIDS. It also aims to identify the processes that give rise to these barriers. Drawing on theories from natural hazards, a systematic literature review method was adopted to identify and organise the set of barriers by focussing on both academic papers and grey literature. The data revealed a notable lack of studies on adaptation within African and Caribbean LDC-SIDS. In general, there was a paucity of academic as well as grey literature being produced by authors from LDC-SIDS to challenge existing discourses related to adaptation barriers. The most common barriers identified included those related to governance, technical, cognitive and cultural. Three key findings can be drawn from this study in relation to formal adaptation initiatives. Firstly, the lack of focus on the adaptive capacity needs of Local Government or Island Councils and communities was a key barrier to ensure success of adaptation interventions. Secondly, international adaptation funding modalities did little to address root causes of vulnerability or support system transformations. These funds were geared at supporting sectoral level adaptation initiatives for vulnerable natural resource sectors such as water, biodiversity and coastal zones. Thirdly, there is a need to recognise the significance of cultural knowledge and practices in shaping adaptive choices of c...
Gero, A, Fletcher, SM, Rumsey, M, Thiessen, J, Kuruppu, N, Buchan, J, Daly, J & Willetts, JR 2015, 'Disasters and climate change in the Pacific: Adaptive capacity of humanitarian response organisations', Climate and Development, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 35-46.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Climate change is likely to affect the pattern of disasters in the Pacific and, by extension, the organizations and systems involved in disaster response. This research focused on how immediate humanitarian health-related needs following disasters are met using the concept of adaptive capacity to investigate the resilience of organizations and the robustness of the broader system of disaster response. Four case study countries (Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, and Vanuatu) were chosen for deeper investigation of the range of issues present in the Pacific. Key findings were that adaptive capacity was enhanced by strong informal communication and relationships as well as formal relationships, appropriate participation of traditional leaders and churches, and recognition and support for the critical role national disaster management offices play in disaster coordination. Adaptive capacity was found to be constrained by lack of clear policies for requesting international assistance, lack of coordinated disaster assessments, and limited human resources for health in disaster response. Limitations in psychosocial support and Australian medical services to meet specific needs were observed. Finally, the research revealed that both Pacific and Australian disaster-response agencies would benefit from a strengthened 'future' focus to better plan for uncertainty and changing risks.
Rumsey, M, Fletcher, SM, Thiessen, J, Gero, A, Kuruppu, N, Daly, J, Buchan, J & Willetts, JR 2014, 'A qualitative examination of the health workforce needs during climate change disaster response in Pacific Island Countries', Human Resources for Health, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 2-20.View/Download from: Publisher's site
There is a growing body of evidence that the impacts of climate change are affecting population health negatively. The Pacific region is particularly vulnerable to climate change; a strong health-care system is required to respond during times of disaster. This paper examines the capacity of the health sector in Pacific Island Countries to adapt to changing disaster response needs, in terms of: (i) health workforce governance, management, policy and involvement; (ii) health-care capacity and skills; and (iii) human resources for health training and workforce development.
Ekstrom, M, Kuruppu, N, Wilby, R, Fowler, H, Chiew, F, Dessai, S & Young, B 2013, 'Examination of climate risk using a modified uncertainty matrix framework - Applications in the water sector', Global Environmental Change, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 115-129.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Previous climate risk assessments provide important methodological insights into how to derive tractable research questions and the appropriate use of data under uncertainty, as well as identifying steps that benefit from stakeholder involvement. Here we propose the use of a framework for the systematic and objective exploration of climate risk assessments. The matrix facilitates a breakdown of information about aim and context, main results, methodological choices, stakeholder involvement, sources and characteristics of uncertainties and overall weaknesses. We then apply the matrix to three risk assessments in the water sector to explore some methodological strengths and weaknesses of approaches strongly linked to climate model outputs (top-down) versus those that originate from local knowledge of climate exposures (bottom-up), and demonstrate that closer integration with social and physical sciences is more likely to yield robust climate risk assessments.
Mustelin, J, Kuruppu, N, Matus Kramer, A, Daron, J, de Bruin, K & Guerra Noriega, A 2013, 'Climate adaptation research for the next generation', Climate and Development, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 189-193.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The last decade has seen a rapid proliferation of climate change adaptation research resulting in a broad theoretical and conceptual understanding of adaptation. However, significant gaps still exist in applying these theoretical frameworks and tools in policy and practice. There is also little agreement on which methods and frameworks are truly robust, while many developing countries lack access to key literature and data. Several issues are especially relevant for early career researchers and practitioners. These include working in an area of science that crosses disciplinary boundaries, improving the quality of and capacity to undertake adaptation research, and equity and ethics. We elaborate on these themes based on our experiences as early career adaptation researchers working in developed and developing countries. We also identify several support mechanisms required to enable early career researchers to advance their engagement with the climate change adaptation agenda.
Mukheibir, P, Kuruppu, N, Gero, A & Herriman, J 2013, 'Overcoming cross-scale challenges to climate change adaptation for local government: A focus on Australia', Climatic Change, vol. 121, no. 2, pp. 271-283.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This paper aims to identify key cross-scale challenges to planned adaptation within the context of local government in Australia, and suggest enabling actions to overcome such challenges. Many of the impacts of climate change and variability have or will be experienced at the local level. Local governments are embedded in a larger governance context that has the potential to limit the effectiveness of planned adaptation initiatives on the ground. This study argues that research on constraints and barriers to adaptation must place greater attention to understanding the broader multi-governance system and cross-scale constraints that shape adaptation at the local government scale. The study identified seven key enabling actions for overcoming cross-scale challenges faced by local governments in Australia when undertaking climate change adaptation planning and implementation. A central conclusion of this study is that a cooperative and collaborative approach is needed where joint recognition of the scale of the issue and its inherent cross-scale complexities are realised. Many of the barriers or constraints to adaptation planning are interlinked, requiring a whole government approach to adaptation planning. The research suggests a stronger role at the state and national level is required for adaptation to be facilitated and supported at the local level.
Fletcher, SM, Thiessen, J, Gero, A, Kuruppu, N, Rumsey, M & Willetts, JR 2013, 'Traditional Coping Strategies and Disaster Response: Examples from the South Pacific Region', Journal of Environmental and Public Health, vol. 2013, no. 1, pp. 1-9.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The Pacific Islands are vulnerable to climate change and increased risk of disasters not only because of their isolated and often low lying geographical setting but because of their economic status which renders them reliant on donor support. In a qualitative study exploring the adaptive capacity of Pacific Island Countries (PICs) across four countries, Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, and Vanuatu, it was clear that traditional coping strategies are consistently being applied as part of response to disasters and climate changes. This paper describes five common strategies employed in PICs as understood through this research: recognition of traditional methods; faith and religious beliefs; traditional governance and leadership; family and community involvement; and agriculture and food security. While this study does not trial the efficacy of these methods, it provides an indication of what methods are being used and therefore a starting point for further research into which of these traditional strategies are beneficial. These findings also provide important impetus for Pacific Island governments to recognise traditional approaches in their disaster preparedness and response processes.
Kuruppu, N & Liverman, D 2011, 'Mental preparation for climate adaptation: The role of cognition and culture in enhancing adaptive capacity of water management in Kiribati', Global Environmental Change, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 657-669.View/Download from: Publisher's site
In many Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), such as in Kiribati, formal national adaptation programmes are currently being operationalised or are in the pipeline. A key focus is on motivating householders to adapt in anticipation of climate change through pilot community projects. In this paper, we argue that the water sector must pay equal attention to how communities cognitively perceive the process of adaptation if interventions are to be effective. Adopting a cognitive model to gain such insights we conclude that individual's belief in their own abilities to manage water stress play a crucial role in driving intentions to adapt and therefore greater attention needs to be placed on understanding the underling drivers shaping such beliefs.
Kuruppu, N 2009, 'Adapting water resources to climate change in Kiribati: The importance of cultural values and meaning', Environmental Science and Policy, vol. 12, no. 7, pp. 799-809.View/Download from: Publisher's site
In many Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, such as in Kiribati, formal national adaptation programmes are currently being operationalised. A key focus is enhancing the adaptive capacity of vulnerable communities through piloting of sectoral adaptation strategies such as diversifying water resources. This study argues that fundamental to water management and adaptation planning is the integration of people's cultural values attached to the assets/resources they control and utilise in their efforts to adapt to various stresses on water resources. The results from integrating cultural resources into a Sustainable Livelihoods Framework indicate that people's capacity to diversify is constrained by cultural processes negotiated in their daily lives that reinforced and reproduced hardships. Material resources provided personal significance when they were spent on maintaining social identity, expressed in recent times through the church. Thus fewer resources were available for pursuing a diversification strategy. Furthermore, power structures in the church delimited benefits to the individual, depriving people of their freedom to exercise autonomous agency and achieve personal wellbeing. The study demonstrates the significance of religion to adaptation. Moreover, it highlights the need to consider the relational aspects of assets, in conditioning how people access and utilise assets in pursuing adaptation strategies.
Khalil, M, Jacobs, B & Kuruppu, N 2016, 'Grassroots Technologies and Community Trust in Climate Change Adaptation: Learning from Coastal Settlements of Bangladesh' in Leal Filho, W (ed), Innovation in Climate Change Adaptation, Springer, Hamburg, Germany, pp. 297-311.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This book introduces innovative approaches to pursue climate change adaptation and to support the long-term implementation of climate change policies.
Kuruppu, N, Mukheibir, P & Murta, J 2014, 'Ensuring small business continuity under a changing climate: the role of adaptive capacity' in Palutikof, JP, Boulter, SL, Barnett, J & Rissik, D (eds), Applied Studies in Climate Adaptation, Wiley-Blackwell, UK, pp. 429-436.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Jacobs, B, Boronyak, LJ, Dunford, S, Kuruppu, N, Lewis, B & 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 and Social Issues, 3rd International Conference on Climate Change and Social Issues, International Center for Research & Development, Colombo, Sri Lanka, pp. 12-14.
We report the findings of a vulnerability assessment of government service delivery to climate change for Sydney, Australia. Climate projections indicate that in addition to increases in average temperature, Sydney can expect higher incidence of extreme climate events such as heat waves, bush fires, intense low pressure weather systems leading to riverine flooding, and coastal inundation from sea level rise. We employed a participatory integrated assessment process with public sector employees representing five key sectors. Vulnerability stemmed from: lack of perception of climate risk, inadequate skills and knowledge to understand climate impacts, pressure from population growth on human settlements, insufficient consideration of climate change in strategic planning, pressure on natural resource supply and security, and an inability to direct government funding to adaptation action stemming from current political ideologies.
Gero, A, Fletcher, SM, Rumsey, M, Thiessen, J, Kuruppu, N, Daly, J, Buchan, J & Willetts, JR 2013, 'Disaster response and adaptive capacity in the Pacific', Climate Adaptation 2013: Knowledge + Partnerships, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) National Conference, Sydney, Australia.
Kuruppu, N, Mukheibir, P, Murta, J, Gero, A, Brennan, T & Chong, J 2012, 'Enhancing the adaptive capacity of Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Australia to climate change and variability', Climate Adaptation in Action 2012: Sharing knowledge to adapt, Climate Adaptation in Action 2012: Sharing knowledge to adapt, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF), Melbourne, Australia.
Mukheibir, P, Kuruppu, N, Gero, A & Herriman, J 2012, 'Cross-scale barriers to climate change adaptation in local government, Australia', National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility's (NCCARF's) Climate Adaptation in Action 2012: Sharing knowledge to adapt, Melbourne, Australia.
Fletcher, S, Gero, A, Rumsey, M, Willetts, JR, Daly, J, Buchan, J, Thiessen, J & Kuruppu, N 2012, 'Understanding adaptive capacity to emergencies in the Pacific in the context of climate change', National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility's (NCCARF's) Climate Adaptation in Action 2012: Sharing knowledge to adapt, Melbourne, Australia.
Jacobs, B, Nelson, R, Kuruppu, N & Leith, P University of Technology and University of Tasmania 2015, An Adaptive Capacity Guide Book: assessing, building and evaluating the capacity of communities to adapt in a changing climate, pp. 1-27.
A capacity to adapt to change is essential for managing Australia’s natural resources. The individuals, communities and organisations who manage our natural resources all have an innate capacity to adapt to change. Changes in climate, markets and technology have shaped the way we adapt the management of natural resources in urban, rural and coastal landscapes. Some of these changes are predictable and easy to manage. Others are expected, but their timing and magnitude are uncertain. Whatever the future holds, this guide can be used to build our capacity to meet future change with confidence.
Kuruppu, N, Murta, J, Mukheibir, P, Chong, J & Brennan, T National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility 2013, Understanding the adaptive capacity of Australian small-to-medium enterprises to climate change and variability, Understanding the adaptive capacity of Australian small-to-medium enterprises to climate change and variability.
Small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) comprise 96 per cent of all private businesses in Australia. The SME sector is the economys largest employer and the largest contributor to GDP. Moreover, SMEs play a significant role within socio-economic systems: they provide employment, goods and services and tax revenue for communities. Climate change may result in adverse business outcomes including business interruptions, increased investment and insurance costs, and declines in financial indicators such as measures of value, return and growth. After natural disasters, SMEs face greater short-term losses than larger enterprises, and may have lower adaptive capacity for various reasons. This study examines the underlying factors and processes shaping adaptive capacity of Australian SMEs to climate change and associated sea level rise. Specifically, the research asks the following questions: 1) How have SMEs considered and integrated adaptation into business planning? 2) What are the key underlying processes that constrain and influence the adaptive capacities of SMEs? and 3) What types of support are required to promote SME business continuity under a changing climate? The study adopts theories from Political Ecology and draws on literature on vulnerability and hazards to understand the processes that mediate the adaptive capacity of SMEs. The empirical research involved an online survey targeting SMEs, attending business engagement events hosted by chambers of commerce, 30 semi-structured interviews with secondary stakeholders, five case studies involving SMEs and secondary stakeholders, and finally a stakeholder workshop which brought together participants from both groups
Mukheibir, P, Kuruppu, N, Gero, A & Herriman, E National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility 2013, Cross-scale barriers to climate change adaptation in local government, Australia, Cross-scale barriers to climate change adaptation in local government, Australia: Final report, pp. 1-101, Gold Coast.
This report documents a study aimed at identifying cross-scale barriers to planned adaptation within the context of local government in Australia, and the development of enabling actions to overcome these barriers. Many of the impacts of climate change and variability have been, or will be, experienced at the local level. As a result, local governments in Australia (and overseas) have initiated plans to adapt to these impacts. However, the pathway to planning and implementation of adaptation is not a barrier-free process. Local governments are embedded in a larger governance context that has the potential to limit the effectiveness of planned adaptation initiatives on the ground. Identifying barriers or constraints to adaptation is an important process in supporting successful adaptation planning, particularly where reworking the path-dependent institutional structures, organisational cultures and policy-making procedures is required.
Fletcher, SM, Gero, A, Thiessen, J, Willetts, JR, Rumsey, M, Daly, J, Buchan, J & Kuruppu, N Institute for Sustainable Futures, and WHO Collaborating Centre, UTS 2013, Understanding the Pacific's adaptive capacity to emergencies in the context of climate change: Country Report - Fiji, pp. 1-35, Sydney.
Fletcher, SM, Gero, A, Thiessen, J, Willetts, JR, Rumsey, M, Daly, J, Buchan, J & Kuruppu, N Institute for Sustainable Futures, and WHO Collaborating Centre, UTS 2013, Understanding the Pacific's adaptive capacity to emergencies in the context of climate change: Country Report - Samoa, pp. 1-30, Sydney.
Fletcher, SM, Rumsey, M, Thiessen, J, Gero, A, Kuruppu, N, Buchan, J, Daly, J & Willetts, JR Institute for Sustainable Futures, and WHO Collaborating Centre, UTS 2013, Disaster response systems in the Pacific: Policy Brief, pp. 1-4, Sydney.
Fletcher, SM, Rumsey, M, Thiessen, J, Gero, A, Kuruppu, N, Buchan, J, Daly, J & Willetts, JR Institute for Sustainable Futures, and WHO Collaborating Centre, UTS 2013, Disaster response systems in the Pacific: Policy Brief for Regional Organisations, pp. 1-4, Sydney.
Gero, A, Fletcher, SM, Rumsey, M, Thiessen, J, Kuruppu, N, Buchan, J, Daly, J & Willetts, JR National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility 2013, Disaster response and climate change in the Pacific, pp. 1-216, Sydney.
Disasters, and therefore disaster response, in the Pacific are expected to be affected by climate change. This research addressed this issue, and focused on the immediate humanitarian needs following a disaster, drawing upon adaptive capacity as a concept to assess the resilience of individual organisations and the robustness of the broader system of disaster response. Four case study countries (Fiji, Cook Islands, Vanuatu and Samoa) were chosen for deeper investigation of the range of issues present in the Pacific. The research process was guided by a Project Reference Group, which included key stakeholders from relevant organisations involved in Pacific disaster response to guide major decisions of the research process and to influence its progression
Gero, A, Fletcher, SM, Rumsey, M, Thiessen, J, Kuruppu, N, Buchan, J, Daly, J & Willetts, JR Institute for Sustainable Furtures and WHO Collaborating Centre, UTS 2013, Disaster response systems in the Pacific: Policy Brief for Pacific Island Countries, pp. 1-4, Sydney.
Gero, A, Fletcher, SM, Thiessen, J, Willetts, JR, Rumsey, M, Daly, J, Buchan, J & Kuruppu, N Institute for Sustainable Futures, and WHO Collaborating Centre, UTS 2013, Understanding the Pacific's adaptive capacity to emergencies in the context of climate change: Country Report - Vanuatu, pp. 1-36, Sydney.
Gero, A, Fletcher, SM, Thiessen, J, Willetts, JR, Rumsey, M, Daly, J, Buchan, J & Kuruppu, N National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) 2013, Understanding the Pacific's adaptive capacity to emergencies in the context of climate change: Country Report- Cook Islands, pp. 1-33, Australia.
Fletcher, SM, Gero, A, Rumsey, M, Willetts, JR, Daly, J, Buchan, J, Kuruppu, N & Thiessen, J WHO Collaborating Centre and the Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2012, Review of Australia's Overseas Disaster and Emergency Response, pp. 1-30, Sydney.
Gero, A, Willetts, JR, Daly, J, Buchan, J, Rumsey, M, Fletcher, SM & Kuruppu, N Institute for Sustainable Futures and WHO Collaborating Centre, UTS 2012, Background Review: Disaster Response System of Four Pacific Island Countries, pp. 1-66, Sydney, Australia.
Gero, A, Willetts, JR, Daly, J, Buchan, J, Rumsey, M, Fletcher, SM & Kuruppu, N Institute for Sustainable Futures and WHO Collaborating Centre, UTS 2012, Projected climate change impacts in the Pacific: A summary, pp. 1-22, Sydney, Australia.
Kuruppu, N, McGee, CM, Murta, J, Prendergast, J, Prior, JH, Prior, TD, Retamal, ML, Usher, J & Zeibots, ME 2011, Sustainability strategy for the North Ryde Station Precinct Project: Infrastructure and subdivision, prepared for Transport Construction Authority, by Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS, Sydney, Australia.