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Adapting to climate change in coastal areas

29 March 2016

In coastal environments, climate change impacts can be especially acute and are often intricately tied to the security of people’s livelihoods, due to their dependence on services from ecosystems. Therefore, knowing how to adapt to changes before they happen is of paramount importance. One approach to this is ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA), which involves the conservation, sustainable management and, or, restoration of ecosystems to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.   

To help people take account of, and manage ecosystems in ways that allow them to adapt to climate change in coastal areas, UNEP-WCMC has led the production of a guide of EBA options under the UNEP ‘Building Capacity for Coastal Ecosystem-Based Adaptation for Small Islands Developing States’ project funded by the European Commission.

The guide is a strategic resource aimed at environmental and adaptation managers and planners, principally in government departments and agencies, but also in businesses and civil society organizations. It helps build a broad understanding of the principles and concepts of coastal EBA, presents a range of different coastal EBA options that are illustrated with existing case studies from developing countries, and discusses the issues and challenges that need addressing in EBA implementation. It supports environmental decision makers in choosing, implementing, monitoring, evaluating and, over time, adaptively managing coastal EBA.

Adaptation to climate change is increasingly important in international policy contexts such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which have acknowledged the potential importance of EBA in meeting this challenge.