A study conducted between 2019 and 2022 revealed a widespread shortage of awareness of sea level rise among Mediterranean coastal stakeholders
Evaluate the sensitivity of citizens and public and private institutions to the perception of sea level rise, as well as examine the actions undertaken or planned by these actors to address the challenge: this is the objective of the study "Adapting to sea level rise: participatory, solution-oriented policy tools in vulnerable Mediterranean areas”, conducted by
The investigation was carried out by 2019 to 2022, in particular in Spain, Greece, Italy (Venice and Basento) and Cyprus, involving a selection of stakeholders from different social and economic sectors, through targeted interviews and specific meetings, in order to assess their degree of awareness of the problem and their predisposition to address the consequences of sea level rise on coastal areas and on the relative infrastructures present in the areas of their interest.
"The results of the study, that is availed of a Decision Support System DeCyDe-4-SLR specifically developed by the Cypriot partner of the Environmental Research and Consultancy (ISOTECH) to provide support to stakeholders to facilitate them to decide preventive actions and take measures to protect their coasts from sea level rise and extreme events as inwaves and tides, revealed that many of the stakeholders interviewed had little awareness of the problem" he claims Marco Anzidei, INGV researcher and coordinator of the SaveMedCoasts2 project. "In general, they were aware of the phenomenon of climate change but had not linked these phenomena to sea level rise. The lack of perception and understanding of this specific global warming effect is particularly evident among political figures. However, these often focus on very limited time horizons related to the length of their mandate, in contrast to the time needed to address this issue".
Sea level rise it is a global problem that it affects about one billion people worldwide, of which approx 400.000 in the Mediterranean region alone.
The socio-economic damage produced by this phenomenon has significant impacts on many areas of the Earth. Therefore, it is it is essential that coastal stakeholders acquire greater awareness of the phenomenon in progress in order to immediately adopt concrete actions aimed at the defense and protection of coastal communities and infrastructure, immediately preparing to face the coming changes.
"After identifying and analyzing the level of awareness among stakeholders”, continues Anzidei, “the study focused on information and understanding of the causes, effects and possible solutions to be adopted in the respective areas of competence. Among the identified processes, global climate policy has emerged as a key and indispensable factor in tackling the problem.
For example, the 2015 Paris Accords on reducing greenhouse gas emissions are an important tool for keeping global warming below 1,5 degrees Celsius, although not all countries adhering to the Treaty respect them. However, to cope with sea level rise, coastal erosion and coastal retreat solutions need to be explored locally as well that can go beyond traditional barrier constructions, such as dams and mobile systems (e.g. the MoSE in Venice), including natural developments, such as the increase in coastal vegetation which in itself is capable of curbing marine erosion without impacting the natural environment".
One of the main requests from stakeholders was the need to have systems capable of visualizing the scenarios expected in the near future. To address this need, the researchers of the Center for Integrated Geomorphology for the Mediterranean Area (CGIAM), project partners, have developed specific tools for the mapping and consultation of the studied coasts which allow to visualize the expected effects and the possible extension of the areas most subject to being flooded by the sea in the coming years for the different climatic scenarios indicated by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). These tools, based on webGIS territorial analysis techniques and climate projections with high resolution data, will soon be available on the Savemedcoast2 website. With them, stakeholders will be able to visualize future projections of coastal zones and make informed decisions to mitigate the possible environmental and socio-economic impacts of sea level rise on specific areas, based on scientific data.
"The study, having highlighted the gaps and the needs of the stakeholders on this specific problem, constitutes a fundamental step to deal with the increase in sea level in the Mediterranean with greater rationality and awareness. Indeed, given the fragility of its coasts, it becomes essential that all stakeholders, including policy makers, understand the urgency and extent of the problem in order to take immediate action to mitigate the effects already underway. Only through collective commitment and widespread awareness among the population will we be able to guarantee the protection of our coasts and coastal communities from the ever-increasing impact of sea level rise and related risks”, concludes Marco Anzidei.
Quote: Loizidou, XI, L. Orthodoxou, D., I. Loizides, M. et al. Adapting to sea level rise: participatory, solution-oriented policy tools in vulnerable Mediterranean areas. Environ Syst Decis (2023)
Link to the study: