Coastal communities are struggling to become less vulnerable and more resilient in their efforts to adapt to climate change. Coastal adaptation involves anticipating the variety of impacts from increasingly powerful storms and rising sea levels. Such impacts can include flooding, structural damage, erosion, marsh loss, and saltwater intrusion into groundwater. Communities have yet to recover and rebuild from the devastating damage and disruptions caused during the last decade of hurricanes and storms across the Caribbean.
The challenges of adapting to climate change in coastal areas are arising with increasing urgency. Climate change is creating many impacts on coastal and marine systems which can be difficult and complex to understand.
Furthermore, they are constantly evolving with growing evidence, knowledge, and understanding that they are linked to trends in the climate and chemical effects of greater greenhouse gas emissions on coastal and ocean systems.
Nowhere will these challenges be greater than in the developing world where often weak institutions and governance systems struggle to deal with mounting pressures from population growth, inadequate infrastructure, and diminishing or already depleted natural resources.
GCCA+ has been collecting good practices for the planning and implementation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management – ICZM- (Bangladesh, Benin, Comoros, Eastern Caribbean, Lesotho, Mauritius, Seychelles and Suriname). These practices apply equally to climate change as they do to other coastal issues. However, some new and important considerations have arisen in the planning and decision-making with respect to adaptation in coastal areas, including:
- even more emphasis on nature-based coastal-protection strategies and measures;
- greater uncertainty in decision-making;
- a longer planning horizon;
- and opportunities to mitigate the sources of climate change through adaptation measures.
A fundamental principle underlying the ICZM concept is that decision-making should be based on applying the best information and science available (The Joint Group of Experts on the Scientiﬁc Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) 2006, http://www. gesamp.org/). Systematic knowledge and understanding play a major role in guiding the sensible use of coastal resources, resolving human-induced problems and improving governance systems. The GCCA+ has been supporting this integration.
The need for more information in planning and decision-making is becoming increasingly evident for climate change because of the complexity and uncertainty of climate-change impacts. The GCCA+ programme has been applying this framework through its projects, and following the lengthy EU coastal adaptation experience from:
- European Climate Adaptation Platform https://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/eu-adaptation-policy/sector-policies/coastal-areas
- ECONADAPT is a research project aiming to support adaptation planning by building a knowledge base on the economics of adaptation to climate change and converting this into practical information for decision-makers. ht tps://econadapt-toolbox .eu/coastal-zones-cost s-and-benef it s-adaptation