The urgency to adapt to the inevitable
Sea level rise projections conceal many uncertainties and variations across the globe, but it is certain that the phenomenon is irreversible and set to continue for centuries and to millennia. All across the globe, coastal cities, on the front line of the growing onslaught of the sea, are seeking adaptation solutions. In light of this, the Ocean & Climate Platform (OCP) launched in 2020 the Sea’ties initiative to support coastal cities threatened by sea level rise by facilitating the conception and implementation of adaptation strategies.
Four priorities to address by regional, national and local decision-makers
Concluding four years of the Sea’ties initiative, the “Policy Recommendations to Coastal Cities to Adapt to Sea Level Rise” draw upon the scientific expertise and on-the-ground experiences of over 230 practitioners convened in 5 regional workshops organised in Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, North America, West Africa, and the Pacific. Now supported by 80 organisations worldwide, the policy recommendations are intended to local, national, regional and international decision-makers, and focus on four priorities:
- Solutions – Planning long-term adaptation responses tailored to the local context:
Adapting means shifting our approach towards long-term planning that anticipates different scenarios of sea level rise, while remaining flexible to potential environmental and societal changes. It entails mixing and phasing multiple solutions (hard and soft protection, ecosystem-based adaptation, hybrid solutions, accommodation, planned relocation etc.) across time and space.
- Social justice – Prioritising social imperatives in adaptation policies:
Considering the propensity of reinforcing inequalities through adaptation policies i.e. maladaptation, it is primordial to centre social justice into all decision-making. Meaningful engagement of communities is key and implies dedicating significant time and resources for engaging communities and to pay particular attention to the ones that have been traditionally underrepresented.
- Knowledge – Developing new ways to generate and share operational knowledge on adaptation:
Strengthening the collection of observation and local data is critical and notably entails developing pluridsciplinary research as well as involving holders of local and indigenous knowledge. To better inform decision-making, further assessments on the feasibility of solutions and monitoring of their impacts are needed.
- Finance – Building a sustainable finance approach for coastal cities:
Coastal cities cannot bear alone the cost of adaptation and need to rely on a financial model based on solidarity which involves all stakeholders impacted directly or indirectly, including inland territories and the private sector. Meanwhile, local financial engineering must be strengthened. Leveraging territorial cooperation and local intermediaries such as regional development banks, is key for cities to access additional resources while providing integrated responses.
The imperative to commit the international community on the road to COP28 and UNOC 2025
If local decision-makers have multiple tools to initiate adaptation in their territories, the extent of their action hinges on the mobilisation and support of the international community. UNFCCC COP28, scheduled to take place next December in Dubai, is a first milestone for the Sea’ties project to carry the recommendations internationally, especially as the COP presidency has expressed its intention to rally the parties around the adoption of ambitious outcomes for adaptation. At the One Planet Polar Summit, Heads of States and mayors from all over the world convened to address this crucial matter. They expressed their determination to carry this issue forward until 2025, within the context of the United Nations Ocean Conference (UNOC2025). The OCP is committed to upholding this pledge and the translation of its recommendations into tangible actions for the years ahead.
Click on the cover to read the recommendations