Coastal protection and management represents a task of vital importance for many coastal communities and authorities. Indeed, coastal protection is a prerequisite for settlement and economic development for many coastal areas.
The coastal regions of the Netherlands and Germany look back on a long tradition of coastal defence, with massive investments in dike-building, drainage of marshlands and reclamation of land from the sea over the a period of more than one thousand years. Catastrophic storm flood events in the fourteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries continue play a central role in collective memory and regional region. Comparatively recently, concern for the protection of the marine environment and coastal landscapes has led to new perspectives in coastal management, requiring integrated and adaptive solutions, working with rather than against natural dynamics.
Climate change and anthropogenic sea level rise place an additional burden on coastal infrastructures and increase the vulnerability of coastal communities. Against this background, adaptive coastal management requires careful monitoring of complex trends, long-term planning and risk assessment and dialogue across multiple stakeholder groups. The protection of Europe’s coasts will undoubtedly require substantial capital investment and balanced, careful planning to ensure infrastructure projects are developed and implemented with due sensitivity to the marine environment and the needs and values of local coastal communities.
My work in this area has focussed on the following issues:
– How different professional communities and policy areas come together to develop integrated climate adaptation strategies;
– How different forms of expert and lay knowledge or ‘ways of knowing’ the coast can be combined to produce common visions for the future;
– Analysis of place-based landscape narratives, understandings of nature-society relations and perceptions of climate change at the coast;
– Analysis of the governance requirements for adaptive coastal management and their implications for spatial planning at the land-sea interface.