Examining the environmental justice of sea level rise and storm tides in New Zealand
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Research has established that aspects of the environment are unevenly distributed among social and socioeconomic groups. While an abundance of literature documents environmental inequalities such as toxic sites, air pollution, and access to greenspace in North America and Europe, few researchers investigate coastal flooding as a result of sea level rise and storm tides. Flooding, coastal and fluvial, are the most common natural disasters in the world; and considering sea level rise and coastal squeeze, will likely become more devastating. The impacts of coastal flooding will vary between populations and often those who are vulnerable will bear the brunt of the adverse effects. This research assesses the socio-spatial distribution of sea level rise in combination with storm tides in New Zealand, taking into account factors such as gender, age, income, ethnicity, and deprivation. Results display that the distribution of risk to coastal flooding is disproportionately higher in environmentally vulnerable places, such as coastal urban low-lying areas, and among socially vulnerable populations, such as Pacific peoples, people aged 65 and over, and people of low-income and high deprivation. Research also exhibits variations for each region in New Zealand. Discussion of the results are placed into context with the existing social, income, and health inequalities in New Zealand and the areas where inequality to coastal flooding in the highest. Furthermore, the results are discussed in relation to the policy framework in New Zealand including the New Zealand Health Strategy 2000 and the Resource Management Act 1991. The argument demonstrates that the regulatory framework in New Zealand fails to recognise environmental justice or environmental inequalities. Lastly, the limitations of research are discussed as well as recommendations for further environmental justice research in New Zealand.