Cross-Chapter Box 9: Integrative Cross-Chapter Box on Low-Lying Islands and Coasts


Ocean and cryosphere changes already impact Low-Lying Islands and Coasts (LLIC), including Small Island Developing States (SIDS), with cascading and compounding risks. Disproportionately higher risks are expected in the course of the 21st century. Reinforcing the findings of the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC, vulnerable human communities, especially those in coral reef environments and polar regions, may exceed adaptation limits well before the end of this century and even in a low greenhouse gas emission pathway (high confidence1). Depending on the effectiveness of 21st century mitigation and adaptation pathways under all emission scenarios, most of the low-lying regions around the world may face adaptation limits beyond 2100, due to the long-term commitment of sea level rise (medium confidence). LLIC host around 11% of the global population, generate about 14% of the global Gross Domestic Product and comprise many world cultural heritage sites. LLIC already experience climate-related ocean and cryosphere changes (high confidence), and they share both commonalities in their exposure and vulnerability to climate change (e.g., low elevation, human disturbances to terrestrial and marine ecosystems), and context-specificities (e.g., variable ecosystem climate sensitivities and risk perceptions by populations). Options to adapt to rising seas, e.g., range from hard engineering to ecosystem-based measures, and from securing current settings to relocating people, built assets and activities. Effective combinations of measures vary across geographies (cities and megacities, small islands, deltas and Arctic coasts), and reflect the scale of observed and projected impacts, ecosystems’ and societies’ adaptive capacity, and the existence of transformational governance (high confidence) {Sections 3.5.3, 4.4.2 to 4.4.5, 5.5.2, 6.8, 6.9, Cross-Chapter Box 2 in Chapter 1}.
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