Responding to Rising Seas

OECD Country Approaches to Tackling Coastal Risks

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There is an urgent need to ensure that coastal areas are adapting to the impacts of climate change. Risks in these areas are projected to increase because of rising sea levels and development pressures. This report reviews how OECD countries can use their national adaptation planning processes to respond to this challenge. Specifically, the report examines how countries approach shared costs and responsibilities for coastal risk management and how this encourages or hinders risk-reduction behaviour by households, businesses and different levels of government. The report outlines policy tools that national governments can use to encourage an efficient, effective and equitable response to ongoing coastal change. It is informed by new analysis on the future costs of sea-level rise, and the main findings from four case studies (Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom).

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The challenge of coastal adaptation

The trends outlined in Chapter 1 will strain the ability of existing coastal management arrangements to maintain an acceptable level of risk at reasonable cost. This chapter analyses how different adaptation strategies can be used to respond to rising coastal risks and their distributional consequences. It then examines how the misalignment between incentives, capacity and roles in the coastal zone can discourage risk reduction, create policy lock-in and lead to inefficient outcomes overall.This chapter was written by Lisa Danielson and Michael Mullan, OECD, with contributions from Alexander Bisaro, Global Climate Forum.

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