Coastal communities nowadays face both coastal change and economic uncertainty. Their homes and livelihoods are at risk and they are on the front line of mitigation and adaptation to coastal change. This paper is based on three case studies in coastal Portugal. It presents the results of both a representative survey of local populations and focussed interviews with targeted stakeholders (including fishermen, businesses, non-governmental organisations, neighbourhood associations).
It will analyse how they perceive and conceptualise risk, how they are being involved in planning and decision-making, and how they envisage the defence (or abandonment) of their neighbourhoods.
The evidence collected reveals the locationally varied responses to adaptation strategies, to new approaches to community based participation and funding, and to the scope for transformational change in coastal politics. It also addresses the dynamics between lay and scientific knowledge on coastal change. The paper covers the shifting sociology of coastal communities, innovative approaches to financing adaptation, emerging issues of social justice, improved forms of democratic communication, and engagement between researchers, communities and policy makers in the redesign of coastal management in the face of medium term accommodation to economic and coastal change.