„Managed Retreat in New Zealand – Governing Coastal Property at Risk from Erosion“
Mon, 20.11. | 12:15-13:45 | SFG 2210
The coast as a dynamic environment poses fundamental problems to the concept of ownership in real estate. Commonly, property is perceived as infinite. There are expectations in property to last forever, to remain undamaged, and to increase in value over time. For many property owners their house is a key part of their retirement planning. Equally, political authorities expect their infrastructures to last and generate overall revenue for the community. However, coastal processes such as erosion and sea level rise pose difficulties for the state apparatus in the creation of stable environments. “Two worlds are colliding at the shoreline—the beautiful, flexible, and infinitely adaptable world that is a beach, and the static, inflexible, urban beachfront world.” (Pilkey and Cooper 2014: xi). The ‘development – defend cycle’ describes the phenomenon that capital assets at risk from erosion are protected with a seawall, and that the construction of such a protection structure then leads to further development and an increase in property values, which in turn demands for an upgrade of the seawall. This continuous development has negative environmental and economic effects, and has increasingly been criticized in recent times.
Since 2010 managed retreat is part of the national legislation in New Zealand. Managed retreat stands for the idea to remove defense structures, buildings and infrastructures away from coastal hazards, and to increase the natural resilience of the coastline against flooding and erosion. Starting from the observation that the current regime of coastal management is more and more problematized, I will focus on the different political rationalities and technological tools that were developed by political authorities to govern the coastal environment and properties at risk. Building on insights from Governmentality studies (Foucault 2007; Rose and Miller 1992; Walters 2012) I will argue that managed retreat is an alteration of the current regime of practices in coastal management, where political authorities are governing property owners through the notion of risk. Focusing on one case study on the Kāpiti Coast, I will analyze an ongoing conflict about the assessment and utilization of hazard lines. Hazard lines are projections of potential erosion risk and are currently used for the administration of building restrictions and an overall disinvestment of coastal property. Guiding questions are: How do political authorities problematize and assess coastal hazards? What political rationalities and technologies of government are constitutive for managed retreat? How does protest form?