Adaptation is defined as the planned or unplanned, reactive or anticipatory, successful or unsuccessful response of a system to a change in its environment. This paper examines the current status of adaptation to sea-level rise and climate change in the context of European coasts. Adaptation can greatly reduce the impact of sea-level rise (and other coastal changes), although it requires adjustment of coastal management policies to changing circumstances. Consequently, adaptation is a social, political, and economic process, rather than just a technical exercise, as it is often conceived. The Synthesis and Upscaling of sea-level Rise Vulnerability Assessment Studies project has shown that adaptation to sea-level rise is widely divergent among European countries. Crudely, four groups of countries were identified:
1. Those that do not worry about accelerated sea-level rise and should not as their coasts are not susceptible
2. Those that do not worry as they have more urgent problems
3. Those that do not worry but probably should
4. Those that do worry and have started to adapt
At the European Union level, while coastal management is a focus, this effort is mainly targeted at today's problems. Hence, this paper suggests the need for a concerted effort to address adaptation in coastal zones across Europe. Sharing of experience among countries would facilitate this process.
2008. Vol. 24, no 2, 432-442 p.