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Climate Change Adaptation Options for Coastal Communities and Local Governments (2019)


With the objective of assisting in the development of adaptation plans, this publication presents 80 adaptation options suitable for coastal communities that can be applied by local governments. They are a catena of options from defend to co-exist and finally, retreat that progresses as impacts become less manageable.

Options are organized according to their capacity to protect local properties and infrastructure, natural systems, food production, availability of fresh and drinking water and well-being of the local population, as these are likely to be affected by climate change.

To respond to multiple threats, ‘soft’ options, such as awareness raising, planning, political articulation and financial incentives, insurance and professional skills enhancement, can be encouraged immediately at relatively low cost and are reversible. For specific threats, options emphasize change in management practices as pre-emptive measures.

The 80 adaptation options were identified through systematic literature review. Not all options are adequate or necessary for all coastal communities; others would help mitigating impacts yet could be substituted by alternatives that would have a better cost-benefit in the specific region. Suitability of different options relates to options that have positive cost benefits, with fewer negative impacts or with positive side effect consequences. Adaptation actions can be high to low cost and appropriate at household/business to community levels. Local governments will be required to lead defensive adaptations that reduce risk community-wide. They are also obliged to inform their constituencies of defensive adaptations that allow for co-existence. In both cases, assessment of cost-efficacy in reducing vulnerability is necessary and will depend on evaluation of local conditions and the level of risk associated with threats.

Key audiences for this work are communities and local governments starting to consider priority actions to respond to climate change impacts.

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