An Assessment of Accommodation Strategies for Coastal Adaptation in Cape Town, South Africa, in Response to Climate Change

Faasen, Petronella (2014-04)

Thesis (MScEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: As the world finds itself increasingly unable to avoid the negative impacts of the physical phenomena associated with climate change, adaptation to climate change has been brought to the forefront of the international agenda. The range of adaptation technologies available can be categorized into three basic strategies (IPCC, 1990): Protection, (managed) Retreat, or Accommodation. The practice of adapting existing developments and infrastructure in the coastal zone by the process of accommodation has not yet seen wide implementation as a formalised adaptation strategy. In order for a community to accept and successfully implement accommodation strategies, all community stakeholders are required to accept and live with a certain level of managed risk, and to also rethink the concept of failure. As a result, accommodation practices implemented globally have been closely related to fields such as risk - and disaster management. Structural innovations in the field of accommodation measures include advanced technologies to elevate existing buildings safely above flood levels, and even “amphibious” houses. In Cape Town, South Africa, the choice between protection, retreat or accommodation as an adaptation measure remains complex. Not much discussion has yet been generated concerning accommodation measures that could be implemented to reduce the risk to existing properties that are already inappropriately located in the risk zone (e.g. seaward of the coastal hazard line), by accommodating the dynamic coastal processes taking place. Accommodation has been found to be most feasible in Cape Town at case study sites with a stable, non- or slowly eroding shoreline, which are also subject to flooding. The elevation of buildings and the alteration of buildings for flood-proofing, in unison with proactive risk and disaster management, could be implemented to accommodate the impacts of flooding on affected infrastructure. Located on Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard, Bakoven serves as a case study sample of such a site where an accommodation-based adaptation solution could be feasible. Both global and regional downscaled climate models have been found to deliver a large range of future climate conditions. Assuming best estimate future predictions, Bakoven properties have been found vulnerable to extreme flooding during both status quo and future extreme events. Environmental conditions at Bakoven are favourable for the construction of piled foundations. Stringent environmental and heritage constraints imposed by local government would, however, render accommodation strategies unviable. It is recommended that government at all levels be willing to adopt a more flexible approach to governing coastal areas, to ensure that the regulations they impose remain as dynamic as the environments which they govern. The viability and possible benefits of accommodation measures, rather than protection or retreat approaches should be carefully considered on an individual case-by-case basis, in unison with the local community.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Wêreldwyd is gemeenskappe besig om toenemend te ervaar dat hul nie die nadelige gevolge van klimaatsverandering kan vryspring nie. Juis daarom, is aanpassing tot klimaatsverandering noodsaaklik. Die verskeidenheid van beskikbare benaderinge tot klimaatsverandering aanpassing kan in drie hoof kategorieë ingedeel word, volgens die IPCC (1990): Beskerming, (stelselmatige) Retireer of Akkomodasie. Die aanpassing van bestaande infrastruktuur d.m.v. akkomodasie is nog nie wyd geïmplementeer as ‘n amptelike aanpassings strategie nie. Ten einde die sukses van ‘n akkommodasie strategie te verseker, sal gemeenskappe genoodsaak wees om ‘n sekere vlak van residuele risiko te aanvaar en die konsep van die ‘faling’ te herdefinieer. Akkommodasie oplossings wêreldwyd is daarom nouliks verwant aan risiko- en rampsbestuur. Innovasies in die struktuurindustrie om die risiko van klimaatsverandering te akkommodeer, sluit onder andere in die fisiese oplig van geboue na ‘n hoër, veilige vlak, en ook die bou van sogenaamde “amfibiese” huise. In Kaapstad is die bepaling van die mees gepaste en voordelige aanpassings oplossing, net soos in die res van die wêreld, kompleks. Die moontlikheid van die gebruik van akkommodasie benaderinge en tegnologieë, eerder as beskermingsstrategieë, is nog nie welbekend of algemeen geïmplementeer nie. Daar bestaan wel ‘n geleentheid om hierdie tegnologieë toe te pas in die geval van bestaande strukture wat seewaarts van die dinamiese kusproses lyn, geleë is. Hierdie studie het bevind dat akkommodasie oplossings moontlik suksesvol kan wees by spesifieke gevallestudies langs Kaapstad se kuslyn waar die kuslyn grootendeels stabiel is. Die oplig en verandering van geboue om vloedbestand te wees, tesame met proaktiewe risiko- en rampsbestuur maatreëls, word by sommige van hierdie gevallestudies aanbeveel om die impak van klimaatsverandering te akkomodeer. Bakoven, ‘n klein gemeenskapsbuurt op Kaapstad se kuslyn, is ‘n voorbeeld van ‘n geval waar ‘n akkommodasie oplossing moontlik goed kan werk. Globale klimaatsmodelle lewer ‘n wye reeks van toekomstige klimaatsvoorspellings vir die jaar 2063. Tydens die toets van die mees waarskynlike toekomstige klimaats-scenario, is bevind dat Bakoven kwesbaar is vir die verwagte vloeding a.g.v. seevlakstyging verwag teen 2063. Daar is ook bevind dat selfs tydens huidige storms, sommige strukture aan Bakoven se kus kwesbaar is. Die omgewingstoestande by Bakoven word beskou as voordelig vir die konstruksie van heipale as fondasies om die geboue hoër op te lig. As gevolg van streng munisipale regulasies met omgewings- en geskiedkundige bewaring as doel, is hierdie opsie egter nie moontlik nie. Dit word aanbeveel dat die regulasies wat deur regeringsamptenare daargestel word, aanpasbaar genoeg moet wees om die veranderende kusomgewing in ag te neem. Die moontlikheid en volhoubaarheid van ‘n akkommodasie oplossing, eerder as ‘n beskermings- of opgee benaderinge, moet deeglik ondersoek word vir elke ‘n individuele geval, in samewerking met die betrokke gemeenskap.

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