SOPAC - Applied Geoscience and Technology Division - SPC

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Marshall Islands

Newsflash

22 August 2013 - Secretariat of the Pacific Community - Suva, Fiji - Better preparing communities for cyclones, floods, droughts, and predicted sea level rise is a top priority for many Pacific island nations. The urgency to prepare however, does not justify cutting corners.

Climate change adaptation planning should follow the same national processes as any development, with environmental impact assessments, technical surveys, and cost benefit analyses.

This was the argument Dr. Arthur Webb of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Applied Geo Science and Technology Division (SOPAC) presented to a diverse audience of students, academics and development practitioners at USP Marine Science Campus on Thursday 17th August.

“Nine out of ten communities want a sea wall,” said Dr. Webb, an expert in coastal processes, “but putting concrete over a healthy beach system is an example of maladaptation. It will do more harm than good. Not only will it disrupt the flow of sediments, in many cases increasing erosion, but it’s terrible for tourism.”

Webb displayed examples of maladaptation that had been carried out in the Pacific. In one instance, mangroves were planted on an atoll coastline where they were not naturally occurring.