Our programme on building resilience and decreasing the vulnerability of people and places, with particular reference to cities and coasts, aims to bring greater integration to our work on coastal communities, cities and adaptation. Given the widespread consequences of climate change on ecosystems throughout society, adaptation represents a major challenge to future sustainability. More than half of the world’s population live in cities and approximately forty percent live on or near the coast, with 14 of the 17 world’s mega-cities located on coasts. Urban populations, which are growing most rapidly in developing countries, are facing risks such as heat stress, flooding and damage to infrastructure; coastal regions are particularly vulnerable to climate change and consequent increases in sea level and storminess.
Significant coastal impacts throughout the twenty-first century and beyond are inevitable without appropriate adaptation. The challenge for researchers is to identify resilient adaptation options that increase ability to withstand climate shocks, help individuals and institutions identify and implement adaptation strategies based on knowledge and resources, and enable learning and adaptation in a timely fashion, without undermining mitigation efforts by inducing energy-intensive adaptations such as air conditioning, pumped drainage or desalination.