Coasts@Risk – Scientist Release New Study on
Global Risks for Coastal Communities
The Nature Conservancy & Coastal Resource Center study examines the effects of environmental degradation on coastal communities and identifies effective solutions for disaster risk reduction.
Arlington, VA | July 30, 2014
Climate change, weather events and coastal development are rapidly changing the world’s coastlines. With millions of people being affected and their way of life under threat, coastal communities around the world have become increasingly vulnerable to natural hazards. A new report, COASTS@RISK (C@R) developed by The Nature Conservancy, University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center and United Nations University ranks the most at risk-nations and examines the effects of environmental degradation while identifying effective solutions for disaster risk reduction.
The C@R report takes an integrated approach in assessing disaster risk and solutions by identifying strong links in environmental conservation and risk reduction which can benefit both people and nature.
According to report author, Dr. Michael Beck, Lead Marine Scientist for The Nature Conservancy, the most at risk nations are all tropical and Small Island Developing States. The top 25 most at risk nations have over half a billion people that depend on marine fisheries for their source of protein, with nearly a quarter coming from fish alone. The C@R report also identifies the risks and vulnerabilities these nations face due to the loss of coral reefs, mangroves and fisheries. The loss of these natural resources increases exposure to natural hazards (storms and floods) and creates food security issues.
More than 250 million people receive risk reduction benefits from reefs and mangroves. These are the people living in low lying coastal areas (i.e. less than 10m elevation about sea water) and within 10km of a reef or mangrove habitat. These people would benefit from habitat restoration to reduce their risk and also improve their social vulnerability.
“It is highly likely that future coastal risks will continue to increase with climate change, population growth and further coastal development,” said Beck. “Our findings have shown that targeted coral reef and mangrove restoration efforts are cost effective options for some of these most at risk nations.”
Based on the findings from C@R report the following key recommendations were identified to contribute to risk reduction:
• Increase risk prevention measures and opportunities for better post development choices
• Habitat restoration can contribute to risk reduction and opportunities exist to focus these restoration efforts
• Targeted research is needed on environmental risk reduction services to create better opportunities for investment
• Demand more cost effective solutions and recognize opportunities to create sustainable investments in natural infrastructure
• Fisheries management and research need to improve and recognize opportunities to reduce social vulnerability
“The integrated approach to this study highlights the importance of achieving risk reduction and environmental conservation objectives that not only benefit nature, but also the people living and working in these coastal communities,” said Karen Kent, Senior Coastal Resource Manager, Coastal Resources Center. “The adaption and restoration of these coastal habitats will increase the productivity of the fisheries and reduce vulnerability.”
About the Coasts@Risk Study
Coasts at Risk (C@R) was made possible through funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Pew Marine Fellowship program and the Lyda Hill Foundation. USAID funding was provided through the Sustainable Coastal Communities and Ecosystems (SUCCESS) Leader with Associates Award to the University of Rhode Island.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at www.nature.org. To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit www.nature.org/global. To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.