Beck, Michael W.; Narayan, Siddharth; Sanchirico, James N. 2015. Ecology, economics, and engineering of nature-based coastal defenses. AAAS 2015 Annual Meeting; San Jose, CA; February 2015. (Abstract)
Increases in natural hazards from coastal storms, flooding, and sea-level rise create social, economic, and ecological risks of global significance. The proportion of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) annually exposed to tropical cyclones grew from 3.6 percent in the 1970s to 4.3 percent in the first decade of the 2000s. As a consequence, huge investments are increasingly being made in coastal hazard mitigation and climate adaptation. In recent climate negotiations, developed nations pledged $100 billion per year by 2020 to support mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. These investments are often for artificial defense structures such as seawalls and breakwaters. Governments and businesses are increasingly interested in identifying other cost-effective approaches, such as nature-based defenses, that can be used as part of coastal protection strategies and as an alternative to investing solely in artificial infrastructure. A growing body of evidence suggests that nature-based solutions can be effective for risk reduction. This symposium brings together ecologists, engineers, and economists to discuss when, where, and how nature-based defenses can offer cost-effective solutions for risk reduction and adaptation. Speakers will examine the role that reefs and wetlands play as nature-based defenses using work that scales from local demonstration projects to synthetic global analyses.