Sea-level rise is one of the major challenges identified in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report “Global Warming of 1.5°C”. It is almost certain that we will experience at least one metre of sea level rise, with some models estimating this will happen within the next 80 years. This will have serious implications for damage to infrastructure, loss of land and displacement of communities. Even if we succeed in limiting the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees, sea levels will continue to rise for centuries to come, due to emissions we have already locked in. While living on the coast has always come with a certain level of flooding and erosion risks, climate change will alter our coastlines and we must prepare for this new reality.

This report, Responding to Rising Seas: OECD Country Approaches to Tackling Coastal Risks takes a major step forward in providing policy guidance on how countries can more effectively manage the risks from sea level rise. The report takes stock of what OECD countries are currently doing to prepare for coastal change, and puts forward a policy framework for coastal adaptation that is equipped to meet the challenges of ever-increasing global temperatures. Four case studies – Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom – provide in-depth examples of the challenges and success factors of coastal adaptation strategies under different institutional contexts. This report builds on the body of OECD work on managing climate risks.

It is vital that countries strengthen their ability to understand, plan for and continuously manage climate risks. There is some progress – more and more OECD countries are developing national strategies to cope with climate change, and sub-national and private actors are also increasingly tackling this issue. However, there is a pressing need to translate planning into implementation. This OECD report provides lessons learned and guidance for countries in approaching the challenges from climate change that will surely mount over coming years.


Rodolfo Lacy

OECD Environment Director

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