Strategies for adapting to hazards and environmental inequalities in coastal urban areas: what kind of resilience for these territories?

Long, Nathalie; Cornut, Pierre; Kolb, Virginia

The ongoing phenomenon of climate change is leading to an upsurge in the number of extreme events. Territories must adapt to these modifications in order to protect their populations and the properties present in coastal areas. The adaptation of coastal areas also aims to make them more resilient to future events. In this article, we examine two strategies for adapting to coastal risks: holding the coastal line through hard constructions such as seawalls or ripraps and the managed retreat of activities and populations to a part of the territory not exposed to hazards. In France, these approaches are financed by a solidarity insurance system at the national level as well as local taxes. These solidarity systems aim to compensate the affected populations and finance implementation of the strategies chosen by local authorities. However, the French mainland coast generally attracts affluent residents, the price of land being higher than inland. This situation induces the presence of inequalities in these territories, inequalities which can be maintained or reinforced in the short and medium term when a defense strategy based on hard constructions is implemented. In such a trajectory, it appears that these territories would be less resilient in the long term because of the maintenance costs of the structures and the uncertainties relating to the hazards (submersion, rising sea levels, erosion). Conversely, with a managed-retreat strategy, inequalities would instead be done away with since property and populations would no longer be exposed to hazards, which would cost society less and would lead these territories towards greater resilience in the long term. Only one social group would be strongly impacted by this strategy in the short term when they are subjected to a managed retreat to another part of the territory.

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Long, Nathalie / Cornut, Pierre / Kolb, Virginia: Strategies for adapting to hazards and environmental inequalities in coastal urban areas: what kind of resilience for these territories?. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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