Climate classification will deliver global coastline adaptation standards

As international efforts to tackle global warming  continue a new classification of the world’s coastlines has been released to improve coastal climate change adaptation.

The classification aims to support adaptation  at local, regional and national level and strengthen coordinated climate action worldwide. It builds on the Coastal Hazard Wheel, a universal coastal management framework and is developed by the Coastal Hazard Wheel initiative involving Deltares, the UN Environment Programme-DHI Centre (UNEP-DHI Centre) and the UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre, with contributions from University of Copenhagen, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Public authorities, planners and researchers can use the new global coastal classification to determine the key characteristics of a specific coastal location, identify relevant adaptation measures and map the full spectrum of coastal hazards, including ecosystem disruption, gradual inundation, saltwater intrusion, erosion and flooding, from local to global level.

“With close to two billion people now living in coastal areas worldwide, timely and appropriate adaptation action is critical” says Dr Lars Rosendahl Appelquist, head of the Coastal Hazard Wheel initiative. “The new global coastal classification and adaptation guidance can help public authorities and planners with identifying relevant management measures and can facilitate integrated coastal management and communication worldwide”.

The classification makes use of the latest global geodata from remote sensing, on-site observations and modelling. It provides coastal classification, hazard information and adaptation guidance for coastal stretches down to about 200 meters.

The organisation said building proper resilience and reducing disaster risk in coastal areas is a major global challenge and particularly urgent for Small Island Developing States (SIDS). FAO and the Coastal Hazard Wheel initiative are therefore working together to test and further develop the new global coastal classification system in its efforts to support SIDS and other coastal countries with adaptation through healthy coastal ecosystems and resilient communities.

“The new global coastal classification can improve and broaden the awareness and understanding of coastal challenges and the impacts of climate change, The initiative said in a statement. “Moreover, the classification can support multi-stakeholder processes from local to global level as well as investment plans to address bottlenecks and needs. “Furthermore, the classification and coastal coding system can be used as a common coastal language to facilitate communication between local, regional and national authorities, policy-makers, international organisations, researchers and practitioners.”