IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability Adaptation options

Figure 6.11 illustrates the evolution of thinking with respect to planned adaptation practices in the coastal zone. It also provides examples of current adaptation interventions. The capacity of coastal systems to regenerate after disasters, and to continue to produce resources and services for human livelihoods and well-being, is being tested with increasing frequency. This is highlighting the need to consider the resilience of coastal systems at broader scales and for their adaptive capacity to be actively managed and nurtured.

Those involved in managing coastal systems have many practical options for simultaneously reducing risks related to current climate extremes and variability as well as adapting to climate change (Yohe, 2000; Daniel, 2001; Queensland Government, 2001; Townend and Pethick, 2002). This reflects the fact that many disaster and climate change response strategies are the same as those which contribute positively to present-day efforts to implement sustainable development, including enhancement of social equity, sound environmental management and wise resource use (Helmer and Hilhorst, 2006). This will help harmonise coastal planning and climate change adaptation and, in turn, strengthen the anticipatory response capacity of institutions (Few et al., 2004a). The timeframes for development are typically shorter than those for natural changes in the coastal region, though management is starting to address this issue. Examples include restoration and management of the Mississippi River and delta plain (Box 6.4) and management of coastal erosion in Europe (Eurosion, 2004; Defra, 2006; MESSINA, 2006). Identifying and selecting adaptation options can be guided by experience and best practice for reducing the adverse impacts of analogous, though causally unrelated, phenomena such as subsidence (natural and/or human-induced) and tsunami (Olsen et al., 2005). Based on this experience, it is highly advantageous to integrate and mainstream disaster management and adaptation to climate variability and change into wider coastal management, especially given relevant lessons from recent disasters (Box 6.5).

Figure 6.11

Figure 6.11. Evolution of planned coastal adaptation practices.

Klein et al. (2001) describe three trends: (i) growing recognition of the benefits of ‘soft’ protection and of ‘retreat and accommodate’ strategies; (ii) an increasing reliance on technologies to develop and manage information; and (iii) an enhanced awareness of the need for coastal adaptation to reflect local natural and socio-economic conditions. The decision as to which adaptation option is chosen is likely to be largely influenced by local socio-economic considerations (Knogge et al., 2004; Persson et al., 2006). It is also important to consider adaptation measures that reduce the direct threats to the survival of coastal ecosystems. These include marine protected areas and ‘no take’ reserves. Moser (2000) identified several factors that prompted local communities to act against coastal erosion. These included: (i) threats of or actual litigation; (ii) frustration among local officials regarding lack of clarity in local regulations, resulting in confusion as well as exposure to litigation; and (iii) concern over soaring numbers of applications for shoreline-hardening structures, since these are perceived to have negative, often external, environmental impacts. The particular adaptation strategy adopted depends on many factors, including the value of the land or infrastructure under threat, the available financial and economic resources, political and cultural values, the local application of coastal management policies, and the ability to understand and implement adaptation options (Yohe, 2000).