Together with Pilot4DEV, the Climate Resilient and Inclusive Cities (CRIC) Project successfully held a fruitful one out of two workshops on 19th March 2021, which discussed about the important relationship between preserving coastal areas, particularly in low lying territories, and its contribution to climate adaptation.

The climate change has given the impact into coastal areas in countries like the Caribbean and Indonesia located below sea-level. And as a result of many occurrences such as soil subsidence, saline infiltration and water scarcity, it exposes those areas to all kinds of vulnerabilities such as the rise of sea levels, storms, strong winds and flash floods.

Furthermore, the world’s rapid population growth has further intensified the vulnerability of coastal areas which leads to the urgency of taking tangible steps to address the impacts of climate change in these coastal areas to prevent disasters in the future.

Prof. Isabelle Milbert as President of Pilot4dev gave the welcoming words in the opening session. It is followed by the opening remark from Dr. Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi as Secretary General of UCLG ASPAC.

Dr. Bernadia highlighted that climate adaptation should be something that concerns all; the public, local governments and all relevant stakeholders, particularly reflecting Indonesia as being an archipelagic country with the second longest coastline in the world.

“The coastal area issue is a highly strategic one when developing climate adaptation plan, but acknowledgement is not enough. It is incredibly important for the establishment of political wheel, a strong institution and resource mobilisation to finance climate action.”

She emphasized that now comes the next crucial if not most important step, which is concrete climate action needs to be an all-encompassing effort and CRIC pilot project is a great example with the provision of tools such as training, and sustainable local climate action plans. “I hope that we all can come up with concrete steps in reducing the vulnerabilities of communities living in coastal areas and increase their awareness and capacity,” she added.

Dr. Marc Igigabel as an expert and Deputy Head of Division of Cerema gave the keynote presentation on Resilience of Coastal Areas: Towards an Integrated Approach. In his research, coastal protection needs integrated approaches that takes into account aspects such as technology, social, ecology, economy, landscapes and many more. He revealed in his research results that the most common impact of climate change on coastal is called coastal hazards, which mainly consists of flood and erosion hazards because of sea level rise.

“This (climate change) impact changes the structure of coastlines, adds to coastal erosion and leads to floods and infiltration of more underground salt-water.”

To address these hazards, Dr. Marc introduced the idea of integrated coastal protection involving physical infrastructure, early warning solutions, nature-based solutions and preparedness research, collection of data and policy implementation.

The panel discussion team gave interactive feedback and response into Dr. Marc presentation. Mr. Arif Wibowo from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of The Republic of Indonesia, stressed the importance of translating high-level commitment into policies, climate literacy, and incentive mechanism to enhance climate action at a community level that should be fostered by national and local governments.

“The Ministry of KLHK has facilitated initiatives like Proklim, a community initative on climate action established in 2012. Community involvement is always beneficial, particularly in letting communities know how to be better prepared and informed. National and local governments should involve them in risk assessment, for example because how local people understand about climate change can be different.”

That very idea of community involvement was also recommended by Vishnu Rao, from All-India Institute of Local-Self Government (AIILSG) and representative of Chennai as a member of the Coastal Action Network. He emphasized that the Indian Government since 2011 has introduced a coastal regulation zone. “It is a zoning block which classifies coastal areas into vulnerable and non-vulnerable areas to determine where infrastructure development can occur,” he said.

Vishnu has also touched on the nature-based solutions that Dr. Marc suggested in his research, such as India’s preservation and promotion of mangroves, particularly in the Eastern side of the Indian coastline. Large part of the coast is protected because of the mangroves that prevent cyclones from heavily impacting nearby villages.

At the end of the panel discussion, Prof. Youssef Diab from University of Gustave Eiffel suggested further improvements to further strengthen climate adaptation in the future using technology, which can contribute to enhancing the development of early warning systems.

“Coastal protection as part of climate adaptation needs iterative solutions. Smart technologies such as the Internet of Things and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are key in tackling current challenges”.

 Written by the UCLG ASPAC KM Team

The CRIC Project is a 5 years’ project funded by the European Union and implemented by UCLG ASPAC, AIILSG, ACR+, ECOLISE, University Gustave Eiffel and Pilot4dev. For more information regarding this workshop and the project, please visit the CRIC website here.