Adaptation practices options and constraints

This section first highlights issues that arise with interventions designed to reduce risks to natural and human coastal systems as a consequence of climate change. As recognised in earlier IPCC assessments (Bijlsma et al., 1996; McLean et al., 2001), a key conclusion is that reactive and standalone efforts to reduce climate-related risks to coastal systems are less effective than responses which are part of integrated coastal zone management (ICZM), including long-term national and community planning (see also Kay and Adler, 2005). Within this context, subsequent sections describe the tools relevant to adaptation in coastal areas, options for adaptation of coastal systems, and current and planned adaptation initiatives. Examples of the costs of, and limits to, coastal adaptation are described, as are the trade-offs. Constraints on, limitations to, and strategies for strengthening adaptive capacity are also described. Finally, the links between coastal adaptation and efforts to mitigate climate change are discussed.

6.6.1 Adaptation to changes in climate and sea level Issues and challenges

Recent extreme events (Box 6.5), whether climate-related or not, have highlighted many of the challenges inherent in adapting to changes in climate and sea level. One constraint on successful management of climate-related risks to coastal systems is the limited ability to characterise in appropriate detail how these systems, and their constituent parts, will respond to climate change drivers and to adaptation initiatives (Sections 6.2.4 and 6.4; Finkl, 2002). Of particular importance is understanding the extent to which natural coastal systems can adapt and therefore continue to provide essential life-supporting services to society. The lack of understanding of the coastal system, including the highly interactive nature and non-linear behaviour (Sections 6.2 and 6.4), means that failure to take an integrated approach to characterising climate-related risks increases the likelihood that the effectiveness of adaptation will be reduced, and perhaps even negated. Despite the growing emphasis on beach nourishment (Hanson et al., 2002), the long-term effectiveness and feasibility of such adaptive measures remains uncertain, especially with the multiple goals explicit within ICZM (Section The question of who pays and who benefits from adaptation is another issue of concern. Public acceptance of the need for adaptation, and of specific measures, also needs to be increased (Neumann et al., 2000). The significant and diverse challenges are summarised in Table 6.9 and discussed further in the identified sections. Integrated coastal zone management (ICZM)

ICZM provides a major opportunity to address the many issues and challenges identified above. Since it offers advantages over purely sectoral approaches, ICZM is widely recognised and promoted as the most appropriate process to deal with climate change, sea-level rise and other current and long-term coastal challenges (Isobe, 2001; Nicholls and Klein, 2005; Harvey, 2006b). Enhancing adaptive capacity is an important part of ICZM. The extent to which climate change and sea-level rise are considered in coastal management plans is one useful measure of commitment to integration and sustainability. Responses to sea-level rise and climate change need to be implemented in the broader context and the wider objectives of coastal planning and management (Kennish, 2002; Moser, 2005). ICZM focuses on integrating and balancing multiple objectives in the planning process (Christie et al., 2005). Generation of equitably distributed social and environmental benefits is a key factor in ICZM process sustainability, but is difficult to achieve. Attention is also paid to legal and institutional frameworks that support integrative planning on local and national scales. Different social groups have contrasting, and often conflicting views on the relative priorities

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