Climate Change and Coastal Adaptation: Planting the Seed for Adaptive Governance in Portugal

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 9:45 PM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Carla GOMES , Institute of Social Sciences - University of Lisbon, Lisboa, Portugal
Ana DELICADO , Institute of Social Sciences - University of Lisbon, Lisboa, Portugal
Mónica TRUNINGER , Institute of Social Sciences - University of Lisbon, Portugal
João MOURATO , Institute of Social Sciences - University of Lisbon, Lisboa, Portugal
Pedro PRISTA , ISCTE - Lisbon University Institute (ISCTE-IUL), Lisboa, Portugal
Tim O'RIORDAN , University of East Anglia, United Kingdom
Luisa SCHMIDT , Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
The most recent IPCC report confirms that climate change is very likely to increase coastal risks. This means that all vulnerable coasts will be required to adopt innovative adaptation strategies. In countries such as Portugal, economic austerity may result in reduced funds for rising coastal defence expenditures. Therefore coastal management will have to confront a geomorphological and social process of creative and progressive adaptive governance if future economies and societies are to remain viable and resilient.

Social scientists will be heavily involved in this challenging prospect. This was the experience of a three-year research - CHANGE – Changing Coasts, Changing Climate, Changing Communities (2010-2013). The project used climate scenarios for the coming decades to promote a meaningful dialogue between a range of interested parties and coastal managers regarding possible planning and financing options in three different coastal locations in Portugal.

The research identified a high awareness across the stakeholder spectrum of coastal risks and climate change. But it also discovered a dominant feeling of hopelessness towards future solutions for coastal protection and funding. Furthermore, all previous attempts by coastal managers to engage stakeholders are widely perceived to be failures.

These critical gaps in prognoses, action and communication have been analysed in a set of interactive workshops. Representatives from regional government and municipalities, private companies, universities, fishermen, among others, met together to discuss science and communication; social and economic impacts; public participation; financing and adaptation solutions.

The presence of the team, coupled a detailed public opinion survey at each location, demonstrably raised awareness on coastal change and sowed the seeds for creating an inclusive coastal forum, engaging local stakeholders in the mission of spreading the adaptation message. The research paper will sum up the results of the CHANGE process, aiming to offer a contribution towards new models of adaptive coastal governance.