Coasts and coastal populations climatic resilience 

Coasts and coastal populations climatic resilience 

© Victor Bravo Lobo

With a changing climate, sudden onset events and climate-related disasters are bound to increase in frequency and intensity. Combined with unsustainable production, resource overexploitation and urbanization, the impacts of climate change will be disastrous on coasts and their communities, especially the most vulnerable ones.

Despite international cooperation efforts, the number of people affected by disasters has considerably increased in the last decade. Disaster risk reduction and frameworks for loss and damages must be developed to improve adaptation measures, early warning systems and sustainable and resilient buildings. Since extreme climatic events disregard national frontiers, regional programs must be developed to integrate, among others, maritime planning in their strategies.

In numbers:

Fisheries directly provide 4 billion people with essential protein intakes and are a central source of income for many countries across the globe. In tropical areas, fish availability is projected to fall by up to 40% by 2055 due to anthropogenic climate change. The Global Ocean Forum identifies fourteen Western African countries in which fisheries-related jobs are expected to fall by 50%. If adaptation measures are not enhanced in coastal cities, loss costs could go up as high as US$ 1 trillion per year in defence against floods.

Physical consequences of increases in CO2

The Global Ocean Forum 2016-2021 roadmap identifies three domains of action for climatic resilience of coastal populations and environments: Fisheries, Coastal cities and Coastal and island populations. However, in developing countries, least developed countries and small islands developing states, a rapid and uncontrolled urbanization, as well as growing populations and limited environmental governance, is causing tremendous alterations of coastal areas. Appropriate adaptation measures, building on long-term and integrated coastal management and supporting technology transfer, are critical to safeguard vulnerable coastal communities. Limiting the consequences of climate change on these communities requires mitigation measures with an urgent reduction of CO2 emissions.

Within UNFCCC negotiations, the Warsaw international mechanism calls for parties to intensify the place of early warning systems within INDCs, and is further strengthened in the Paris Agreement with the Article 8 provisions on loss and damages, in which parties recognize the importance of addressing loss and damages associated with climate change and define areas for cooperation between parties. Moreover, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 calls for urgent measures to “anticipate, plan for and reduce disaster risk”, using a people-centred approach. It identifies the key advances that have been made in the past decade in reducing local impacts of disasters, raising awareness, and creating national and international tools for action and cooperation, such as the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction.

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