Keynote Address: Managed Retreat and Community Relocation in Flood-Prone Areas
Jamie Simmonds, an internationally renowned expert in the field of managed retreat and community relocation, hails from the United States but has made Australia, particularly Brisbane, his home. Jamie’s remarkable journey has captivated audiences worldwide, particularly individuals seeking inspiration and guidance in their own communities.
In 2011, Jamie directed the relocation of Grantham, an Australian town left devastated by catastrophic flash flooding that tragically claimed the lives of 19 people. Displaying exceptional leadership alongside the late Mayor Steve Jones, within just 12 month they saw the transition of over 100 families to new homes in a prosperous estate, situated on higher ground surrounding Grantham. Today, this relocation project is hailed as one of the most successful examples of managed retreat globally.
In 2020, Jamie documented the story in his book about the Grantham experience to show communities the positives and challenges associated with community relocation. Since then, communities, media organizations, academic institutions, and government agencies from every corner of the globe have reached out to Jamie for guidance. Seeking to understand how to rebuild communities in a safer and more resilient manner in a changing climate, they have recognized Jamie as an invaluable resource.
Jamie remains dedicated to assisting in the reconstruction endeavours of the Asia-Pacific region. Presently, Jamie is actively engaged in a community relocation program in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, collaborating closely with the Lismore community. This initiative was born out of the region’s devastating flooding in 2022, and Jamie’s involvement highlights their commitment to creating a brighter future for those affected.
With a rich background encompassing over 20 years in both government and the private sector, Jamie’s story serves as a testament to the incredible accomplishments governments can achieve when guided by visionary leadership, deep community engagement, and an unwavering spirit of hope.