• 11 July 2023

Sea level rise at ECCA2023: Insights, considerations, and calls to action

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As one of the most pressing issues related to climate change, Sea Level Rise was one of the main themes at ECCA2023.  

The topics, ideas and issues touched upon within the theme stream showed once more how much Sea Level Rise affects society, the environment and economics. We got further confirmation that there is still much work to do – while time is not as generous.  

The Sea Level Rise stream spotlighted local perspectives, featuring sessions on first-hand experiences from the Baltic Sea and on Relocation, Coastal Erosion and Social Vulnerability, Transformational Change and Adaptation Decision-Making; while a session was fully dedicated to the Knowledge Hub on Sea Level Rise. Throughout the sessions, it was possible to identify some recurring considerations and calls to action. 

The first is to adopt a long-term perspective when initiating and implementing any adaptation initiative or strategy – instead of a fixed-term, project-based one. This will facilitate tackling the fast-changing challenges posed by Sea Level Rise by fostering flexibility. On the one hand, people are inclined to accept and support traditional protection measures – such as dikes and sand nourishments – but such measures are not enough if we think ahead for generations to come.  

The second is to ensure an open and transparent dialogue with all stakeholders, with accessible and transparent information being a prerequisite. Many Sea Level Rise-related adaptation initiatives, especially relocation-related ones, have a massive impact on society as a whole: therefore, it is essential to keep all stakeholders involved at every stage of each initiative. Relocation should not be romanticised, and if implemented with a people-centred approach it can be successful. A similar perspective should be adopted in the development of Adaptation Pathways. Also, support essential for communities subjected to any Sea Level Rise-related adaptation initiative or strategy, and it should be ensured that adaptation resources, costs and benefits are fairly distributed.

When affected by Sea Level Rise’s challenges, communities are particularly vulnerable and face not only economical and material challenges, but they also suffer a deep emotional trauma. Hence, communities need support that is both material and psychological.

Projects related to the Sea Level Rise theme: 

SCORE – Smart Control of the Climate Resilience in European Coastal Cities 

Coastal Climate Core Services (CoCliCo) 

Author: Kasia Fantoni

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