Coastlines play an important role in health and well-being, providing a range of goods and services, from spaces of recreation and reflection, to foundations for community- and self-identifies, heritage and culture, to name a few. However, these are often threatened by the dynamism of natural processes, such as coastal flooding and erosion. Likewise, Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) raises a number of well-being dilemmas. Indeed, the decision to realign, remove or lower existing defences has implications for the local economy, social cohesion, feelings of ontological security and place attachment, as well as impacts for the environment and human health.
In Wales this is has been recently reinforced by the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, which places a statutory duty on all public bodies to actively contribute to the achievement of national well-being goals through all aspects of policy and decision-making. Seven well-being goals are outlined in relation to economic, social, environmental and cultural facets of well-being, including prosperity, resilience, health, equality, cohesive communities, culture and language, and global responsibility. However, how to assess, align and negotiate the potential conflicts between FCERM and the well-being agenda is poorly understood, yet remains an important step forward if the two agendas are to be delivered in tangent.
Conducted under the auspices of the “CoastWEB” project (valuing the contribution which COASTS make to human health and WEllBeing), this research draws from in-depth policy and legal analysis, stakeholder network analysis, and interviews with Welsh policymakers and practitioners. Focusing on core governance arrangements for FCERM and well-being, we present the results of preliminary analysis and evaluation. Identifying points of synergy and conflict, and importance of ‘bridging mechanisms’, we highlight various pathways through which multi-level governance is both facilitating and constraining the tangent pursuit of societal resilience and well-being on the Welsh coastline. Through this analysis we identify governance intervention measures and design principles, emphasising the importance of reflexive and legitimate practices. It is anticipated that the methodology and findings may be of interest to other nations similarly endeavouring to secure the well-being of future generations on dynamic coastlines.