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December 2022: The Future of Coastal Sustainability

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

What is Coastal Sustainability?

About 71% of Earth’s surface is water, but only 3% of this water is freshwater, and the biggest problem is that about 3 billion people live within coastal communities. According to Professor Benjamin Sovacool of Aarhus University, the probability of a water shortage is extremely likely to occur in 2040. The clock is ticking, and this is where coastal sustainable management steps in. Coastal sustainable development is defined very similarly to the principles of climate change; it is the human-induced change of a coastline.

Our Current Status

Currently, we know that only 15% of the world’s coastlines remain in their natural state; that is only about a sixth of the world’s coastlines!

Additionally, two weeks ago, CNN reported that about 2,500 endangered Caspian seals have washed up dead around the Caspian shoreline. According to the IUCN, or the International Union of Conservation of Nature, has reported that other factors for this mass extinction were due to human behavior, such as over-hunting, overfishing, degradation of habitats, and climate change. Unfortunately, approximately only 270,000-300,000 Caspian seals continue to live along these shores.

However, there is hope, as the United Nations has established an official “blueprint” concerning International Ocean and Coastal Sustainability to protect the Earth’s biodiversity, and guide us towards the future of ocean management.

Methods of Coastal Resiliency

As discussed in my previous blog, one major effect of climate change is the increase of sea level rises in coastal communities. It has been reported by the EPA, that sea levels had risen by 7 inches in the 20th century. Therefore, more implementation of “green infrastructure,” or natural barriers, such as sand, plants, and preservation of coral reefs is needed to act as a first-hand defense system to protect “gray infrastructure,” or areas of recreation and service. These defense system draw in wave energy and rich, collects and stabilizes earthly sediments, and even decreases rates of erosion, therefore protecting communities from storms

Once “green infrastructure” has been put into place, there will be a lessened impact on human health and coastal property. These methods of coastal resiliency guides us one step closer towards reaching one of our biggest sustainability goals– ecological balance amongst life below water (SDG 14).

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