The idea that integration and synthesis are critical for designing climate change adaptation and mitigation is well entrenched conceptually. Here, we review the concepts of adaptation, synthesis and integration and apply them to the case study of coastal wetlands in South East Queensland, Australia. The distribution and condition of coastal wetlands will change as climate changes. This will create conservation challenges and economic costs, but these can be minimised by drawing from a broad sectoral perspective in undertaking adaptation planning and by ensuring integration into policy. Our review indicates that adaptations to sea level rise that are focussed on wetland and biodiversity conservation are likely to have impacts for urbanisation patterns. Planning regulations that provide spatial buffering around wetlands may give rise to more compact urban forms that may lead to reductions in the cost of defence against sea level rise, reduce energy usage per person and provide more green space. However, more compact urban forms could exacerbate heat island effects and place greater burden on the economically disadvantaged as, for example, single-family homes become more expensive. Planning for climate change needs to balance these equity and cross-sectoral issues in order to reduce the likelihood of unforeseen negative consequences.