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Regional Consultation in Egypt – Sea-Level Rise, Coastal Erosion and Human Development

Rising sea-levels due to climate change will have serious consequences on the Arab region’s coastlines and low-lying deltas and islands, including its small-island states. More frequent incidences of flooding and storm surges, as well as saltwater intrusion into fresh water supplies, are likely to lead to severe land degradation and biodiversity loss, in turn negatively impacting food security and livelihoods in the Arab countries.  Increasing sea-surface temperatures and erosion may negatively impact ports, residential areas and other coastal infrastructure and ecosystems, posing formidable challenges to the tourism sector and to fisheries. 

In line with these concerns, the second of the three consultative meetings for the Arab Climate Resilience Initiative was held in Cairo, Egypt on the 20-21 of September, 2010 in partnership with National Water Research Council, Egypt on "Climate Change Impacts in the Arab Region: Sea Level Rise, Coastal Erosion and Human Development". 

The consultation included expert presentations on the scientific, environmental, and socio-economic projections related to rising tides, including case studies and pilot projects, as well as guidance on best-practice policy-making, risk reduction and management. The consultation was attended by 100 participants, with 15 regional countries represented.  UNDP and other affiliated UN agencies participated along with the League of Arab States and a range of research institutions from across the region and from Europe, with contributions from the World Bank and private sector partners.  Over two days, six panels of interventions and discussion covered the following topics:

- The projected extent of sea level rise, erosion, and rising sea temperatures from climate change, and the geographic, environmental and demographic vulnerability to such impacts within the Arab region.
- The socioeconomic issues associated with sea-level rise, including: migration and livelihood sustainability; impacts on the agricultural sector; and impacts on the construction and tourism sectors.
- Sea-level rise adaptation measures, risk reduction and national experiences with the impacts .
- Cross-sectoral policies and interventions to meet the adaptation challenges posed by sea-level rise and coastal erosion, including: disaster risk reduction strategies, integrated coastal zone management, and mitigating damage to buildings and infrastructure.

The meeting closed with a synthesis and debate on the challenges, policy priorities, and opportunities for regional and global collaboration on adaptation, as well as opportunities to share interregional and national knowledge and research.  Suggestions included increasing the minimum distance between buildings and shoreline, and adapting materials used for buildings, roads, and utility facilities.  To protect agricultural areas from saltwater intrusion, participants suggested a range of adaptations in zoning, irrigation methods, crop choice and growing methods to make farming areas more resilient.  For the tourism sector, participants considered investment in alternatives to coastal destinations, as well as encouraging eco-tourism.  Regionally, participants also acknowledged the need for governments and national actors to link their monitoring and their disaster risk reduction knowledge and processes, making use of the Hyogo Framework.  Overall, building up coastal marine defenses, enhancing population awareness, and developing insurance schemes will also be important in adapting to alterations along the region’s coasts.

For further details on the findings of this consultation, please see "The Arab Climate Resilience Initiative: Towards a Unified Response".



The Arab Climate Resilience Initiative (ACRI) is a UNDP programme that aims to address the challenges of climate change by connecting stakeholders in the Arab States to innovative knowledge, partnerships and solutions. More on the Initiative