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Wellbeing a concern for Coastal Communities

well being in the community

A recent stuff article about kiwis suffering anxiety related to climate change has bought to the fore what is already being observed in our Coastal Communities

"For New Zealanders, the natural environment is at the heart of the nation's identity, particularly for Māori, shaping the economy, lifestyles and culture. Disruption of cherished bonds between individuals and their environment, such as during the managed retreat of threatened coastal communities, can cause grief, loss, and anxiety," the report said.

(Royal Society- Human Health Impacts of climate change for New Zealand, 2018)

CCRU has long been working to bring the topic of Coastal Community Wellbeing to the attention of local and national government. Specifically, the effect of the what, how and when climate change responses delivered by councils. Some coastal communities in Christchurch have suffered significant and measurable erosion of wellbeing, exacerbated by council process and strategy.

In our view it is key that communities are not forced to leave their homes too early or coerced into moving through financial mechanisms (not protecting homes) or using financial instruments etc, that would leave them vulnerable and foster further inequities.

Adaptive trigger points and collective management of those trigger points needs to be clearly financed, otherwise it is just a paper exercise and will further eat away at mental health and wellbeing levels.

Adaptation can greatly reduce the impact of sea-level rise (and other coastal changes). Consequently, and most importantly, CCRU see adaptation is a social, political, and economic process, rather than just the technical exercise we have observed so far in Christchurch.

If this process remains at a technical level it will only serve to further erode the wellbeing of already exhausted communities with predictable tragic consequences.

What are psychologists suggesting?

A key component of wellbeing was feeling some degree of control and certainty, and taking action or "doing something" was the best antidote to that worry or anxiety. It gives you some sense of being able to contribute, being able to influence the current climate. Many psychologists were advising people to get involved with community groups and take action.

Dixon says we are more used to responding to a fast crisis like an earthquake or flood. This is a slow one. The advantage is it gives us time to prepare, the disadvantage is that we can turn off and just ignore it." (kiwis-suffering-depression-anxiety-and-hopelessness-because-of-climate-change/stuff 14/07/2019)

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