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Biodiversity & Environment

Coastal Adaptation

  • 31 Oct 2023
  • 8 min read

For Prelims: India’s Coastal Ecosystems, Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2019, Coastal Management Information System, Mangroves.

For Mains: Advantages Resulting from Coastal Adaptation, Indian Government Initiatives Related to Coastal Management.

Source: DTE

Why in News?

A recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, has emphasised the coastal adaptation initiatives in several regions, encompassing Indian coastal areas such as Mumbai, Ghoramara in Sundarbans, Puri in Odisha, and the Konkan regions, categorizing their efforts as 'moderate-to-high' in terms of adaptation measures.

What are the Key Findings of the Study?

  • Impact on Low-Lying Coastal Regions:
    • Low-lying coastal areas, at risk of flooding, comprise approximately 11% of global population densities and contribute around 14% to the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  • Regional Adaptation Disparities Worldwide:
    • Close to 50% of surveyed regions displayed considerable gaps in adaptation, focusing on individual risks while overlooking the root causes of vulnerability.
    • Around 13% of case studies revealed high-to-very-high adaptation, predominantly witnessed in Europe and North America.
    • The rest fell into the moderate category, including Australia and New Zealand.
  • Varying Adaptation Measures in Specific Indian Coastal Regions:
    • Mumbai, Puri, Konkan, and Ghoramara region in Sunderbans, from India exhibited varying adaptation measures.
      • Ghoramara displayed generic adaptation plans, lacking local state-agency-specific strategies.
      • The Konkan region also lacked adaptation plans, neglecting multiple coastal hazards in the state's action plan.
      • While Mumbai possesses a climate action plan, its adaptation strategies failed to accurately evaluate risks and address the specific needs of vulnerable residents.
      • Puri, despite having action plans, lacked sector-specific adaptation strategies and identification of high-risk communities.

What is Coastal Adaptation?

  • About:
    • Coastal adaptation involves strategies and actions taken to deal with and reduce the impact of natural hazards and climate change on coastal areas, aiming to protect communities and infrastructure from rising sea levels, erosion, and extreme weather events.
      • Additionally, coastal adaptation measures have the potential to create a range of opportunities.
  • Advantages Resulting from Coastal Adaptation:
    • Economic Diversification: Implementation of coastal adaptation initiatives can spur economic growth through the creation of new industries related to climate-resilient infrastructure, renewable energy, and eco-tourism, potentially generating employment and business opportunities.
    • Biodiversity Enhancement: Effective coastal adaptation can inadvertently lead to the restoration and preservation of natural ecosystems.
      • This restoration aids in preserving indigenous species and fostering the development of habitats for endangered or vulnerable species.
    • Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience Building: Coastal adaptation plays a crucial role in reducing the vulnerability of coastal communities to disasters.
      • By implementing measures such as building resilient infrastructure, early warning systems, and natural barriers, it helps in minimising the impact of natural disasters like storms, tsunamis, and sea-level rise.
      • Strengthening coastal resilience reduces the risks associated with such calamities, safeguarding lives, property, and livelihoods.
    • Sustainable Food Sources and Livelihoods: Effective coastal adaptation, especially practices like aquaculture, sustainable fishing, and integrated farming in coastal areas, can ensure a steady supply of seafood and agricultural produce.
      • This secures livelihoods for coastal communities and contributes to global food security.
  • Related Challenges:
    • Complex Stakeholder Coordination: Coastal adaptation involves multiple stakeholders, including government bodies, local communities, businesses, and environmental groups.
      • Coordinating these diverse interests and ensuring effective collaboration among them is often difficult due to differing priorities, leading to delays and conflicts.
    • Uncertainty in Future Climate Projections: Predicting future climate scenarios, including sea-level rise and extreme weather events, poses a challenge.
      • Adapting to uncertain climate projections while planning for long-term strategies can be a complex task, leading to uncertainties in infrastructure and development planning.
    • Community Fragmentation and Social Cohesion: In some cases, relocation or changes in land use due to coastal adaptation initiatives can lead to the fragmentation of communities.
      • Dispersing or relocating populations might disrupt social structures and community cohesion, impacting their resilience and cultural practices.

What are the Indian Government Initiatives Related to Coastal Management?

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC) set the hazard line for India's coast to manage shoreline changes due to climate change.
  • The Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2019 aims to conserve coastal areas and livelihoods, allowing erosion control measures while defining No Development Zones.
  • The Coastal Management Information System (CMIS) collects near-shore coastal data for designing and maintaining protection structures at vulnerable stretches.
  • Successful coastal erosion mitigation measures were demonstrated in Puducherry and Kerala, aiding restoration and protection of coastal areas.

Way Forward

  • Nature-Based Solutions (NBS): Emphasise nature-based solutions that work with natural processes rather than against them.
    • Implementing strategies like the restoration of mangroves, salt marshes, and dunes can provide cost-effective and environmentally friendly coastal protection.
  • Community-Centric Approaches: Engage local communities in the design and implementation of coastal adaptation measures.
    • Complement them with the scientific knowledge and resources to contribute to decision-making, as they already possess valuable traditional knowledge of the area.
  • Use of Advanced Technology: Utilise innovative technologies such as remote sensing, artificial intelligence, and predictive modeling for better understanding and predicting coastal changes.
    • These tools can provide real-time data for more accurate planning and response.
  • Hybrid Engineering Solutions: Combine traditional hard infrastructure with innovative hybrid engineering solutions.
    • For example, integrating natural features like artificial reefs within traditional structures can enhance coastal protection while supporting biodiversity.

UPSC Civil Services Examination Previous Year Question (PYQ)


Q. Which one of the following regions of India has a combination of mangrove forest, evergreen forest and deciduous forest? (2015)

(a) North Coastal Andhra Pradesh 
(b) South-West Bengal 
(c) Southern Saurashtra
(d) Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Ans: (d)


Q. Discuss the recent measures initiated in disaster management by the Government of India departing from the earlier reactive approach. (2020)

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