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Social Sciences Public Seminar: "Sustaining development in a port city – climate change, social justice and adaptation"


An international study of 136 cities with over 1 million people by the OECD into the vulnerability of ports across the world finds that large populations are exposed to coastal flooding in port cities, and that approximately 40 million people (0.6% of the global population), or roughly 1 in 10 of the total port city population in the cities (within the project study) are exposed to a 1 in 100-year coastal flood event. Each city is itself also subject to numerous other pressures including socio-economic, health, population and infrastructure issues. Together they create a potent tension between economy and environment which mitigate against sustainable development. This presentation explores these issues, and in the context of climate change in particular (as an external environmental pressure), how urban populations in port cities can respond and adapt effectively to the challenges they provide. The presentation will also consider how the relationship between environment and society influences, and is in turn affected by this convergence of social, economic and environmental pressures, and its implications for sustainable development.

Presentation Powerpoint Download


Melissa Nursey-Bray is a social scientist interested in the incorporation of community (or communities of interest) in decision making. She worked for many years with Indigenous peoples in northern Australia, which included work training Indigenous rangers and development of management plans, such as the Hope Vale Turtle and Dugong Management Plan and the Girringun Co-management agreement along the Great Barrier Reef. Since living in Tasmania, Melissa has been active in building research in climate change adaptation for fisheries and local government. For example, she developed a risk assessment tool for adapation to climate change for local government. She is currently working on the development of climate change adaptation training and curricula for maritime professionals. She also believes in teaching for and about environmental sustainability, and teaches courses in Indigenous resource management, marine conservation, environmental ethics, climate change, environmental management systems, integrated coastal zone management and global change. She recently won a national teaching award for making an outstanding contribution to student learning in the area of critical thinking and environmental sustainability. Melissa is a historian by training, but now works generally in the disciplines of geography and Indigenous studies. She has published two books and many chapters and articles on climate change and Indigenous resource management.



Online Seminar Video Clip