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 possibly millennia.
All across the globe, coastal cities that are on the front line of the growing onslaught of the sea are seeking adaptation solutions.
The Ocean & Climate Platform’s ‘Policy Recommendations to Coastal Cities to Adapt to Sea Level Rise’ prioritize solutions, social justice, knowledge, and finance.
By the Ocean & Climate Platform and partners
On 9 November, at the One Planet – Polar Summit and just a few weeks ahead of the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 28), the Sea’ties initiative unveiled a series of policy recommendations for coastal cities to adapt to sea level rise.
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 possibly millennia. All across the globe, coastal cities that are 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 five regional workshops organized in Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, North America, West Africa, and the Pacific. Now supported by 80 organizations worldwide, the policy recommendations, intended for local, national, regional, and international decision makers, focus on four priorities:
1. 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 in light of potential environmental and societal changes. It entails mixing and phasing across time and space multiple solutions such as hard and soft protection, ecosystem-based adaptation, hybrid solutions, accommodation, and planned relocation, among others.
2. Social justice: Prioritizing social imperatives in adaptation policies
Considering the propensity of reinforcing inequalities through adaptation policies, or maladaptation, it is essential to center social justice into all decision making. Meaningful engagement of communities is key and implies dedicating significant time and resources to engaging communities and to paying particular attention to the ones that have been traditionally underrepresented.
3. Knowledge: Developing new ways to generate and share operational knowledge on adaptation
Strengthening the collection of observation and local data is critical and entails developing pluri-disciplinary 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.
4. 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 COP 28 and UNOC 2025
If local decision makers have multiple tools to initiate adaptation in their territories, the extent of their action hinges on the mobilization and support of the international community. UNFCCC COP 28, scheduled to take place next December in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), is a first milestone for the Sea’ties project to carry the recommendations internationally, especially as the COP incoming Presidency has expressed its intention to rally parties around the adoption of ambitious outcomes for adaptation. At the One Planet – Polar Summit, Heads of State 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 UN Ocean Conference (UNOC 2025). The OCP is committed to upholding this pledge and to translating its recommendations into tangible actions for the years ahead.
Click here to read the recommendations