Coast & Climate Change

The Mediterranean region has been identified as one of the global climate change hotspots. The most important impacts of the climate change on the Mediterranean coastal zone are related to sea level rise; causing coastal flooding and followed by the increase of coastal erosion. The beauty of Mediterranean coast is among the key reasons for the Mediterranean being a destination of 1/3 of the world's tourism. A big share of Mediterranean tourism is a coastal, beach tourism. Consequently, the Mediterranean of today is characterised by a rather highly urbanised coast which makes countries even more open to climate risks. In addition to coastal flooding and erosion, climate change will bring to Mediterranean coast increase of air and sea temperatures, decrease of precipitations, droughts, increase in risk of forest fires, increase in salinity and acidity of our sea. Finally, as we saw in the recent years and as emphasised by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), changes in climate variability and weather extremes are some of the key challenges facing humanity.

The latest, 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), states that unless urgent and drastic action is taken internationally to respond to climate change, we risk severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts on human and natural systems, threatening ecosystems and biodiversity, slowing economic growth, eroding food security, harming human health and increasing inequality. As a response to this finding, in only one year 175 countries out of 197 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), ratified the Paris agreement. However, even under the most ambitious mitigation scenarios, adaptation is still needed due to the fact that the change of climate which we are living in this century was caused decades ago.

Since tackling climate change and fostering sustainable development are said to be the two sides of the same coin; ICZM, just as the other governance tools, is actually the coin itself. ICZM aims to facilitate sustainable coastal development, for which impacts of the climate change and adaptation to it are becoming the key priority.

The ICZM Protocol provides tools to decrease climate risks and to build resilience. Those are provided in its provisions on the protection of the coastal zone, of related economic activities and of specific coastal ecosystems, on the prevention, response to natural hazards and on the prevention and mitigation and adaptation measures to address the effects of climate change, in particular on natural disasters and coastal erosion.

In 2015, UNEP/MAP adopted the Regional Climate Change Adaptation Framework as a guide to Mediterranean countries for their adaptation efforts to climate change.