Building Resilience to Coastal Hazards and Climate Change in Hawaii

From May 2016 until April 2019, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Office of Planning partnered with the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program to create three tools that support adaptation at the local level: an interactive data mapthe Hawaii Sea-Level Rise Viewer, and two guidance documentsIntegrating Coastal Hazards and Sea-Level Rise Resilience in Community Planning and Guidance for Disaster Recovery Preparedness in Hawaii. Much of Hawaii’s population and development exist on low-lying coastal plains that are vulnerable to erosion, flooding, and inundation. Building on the state’s 2017 Hawaii Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report, the complementary tools are aimed at helping communities better prepare for future sea-level rise and other climate change impacts.

The first tool is the Hawaii Sea-Level Rise Viewer, which is designed to provide interactive maps for local policymakers to use when assessing coastal risks. The Sea-Level Rise Viewer incorporates the best available data and science for “passive flooding, annual high wave flooding, coastal erosion, and a combined sea level rise exposure area,” in addition to economic vulnerability layers that show where these impacts may be most acutely felt in Hawaii. The viewer was developed by the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System.

Second, Integrating Coastal Hazards and Sea-Level Rise Resilience in Community Planning is a guidance document that local communities can use to translate and incorporate statewide policy recommendations from the Vulnerability and Adaptation Report (mentioned above) into their local planning processes. The goal is to help communities build capacity and develop comprehensive approaches to coastal and sea-level rise challenges.

Third, the Guidance for Disaster Recovery Preparedness in Hawaii is a guidance document for communities to incorporate state-recommended pre-disaster actions that can help enhance the resilience of their sea-level rise adaptation plans. As climate impacts increase in frequency and intensity in Hawaii, it will be increasingly important for local communities to develop legal and policy tools through their land-use and zoning powers to prepare for and mitigate impacts from disasters before they arise; this guidance document, in conjunction with the recommendations from the Vulnerability and Adaptation Report, provides communities with some resources to use these tools.

Publication Date: April 2019

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  • Mapping tool
  • Planning guides
  • Policy analysis/recommendations
  • Tool (general)

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