Session 90: Shared learning across coastal cities: Impacts, vulnerability, and socio-ecological responses


Session Abstract

Although cities make up a very small percentage of Earth’s land surface, coastal environments have much higher concentrations of urban land area (10%) and urban populations (65%) than other ecosystems. Throughout history, human settlements have developed alongside ocean coasts, river deltas and estuaries, given the multiple ecosystem services provided by these unique land systems as well the vast economic and global trade opportunities concomitant with seaports and transportation networks along waterways. In an era of increasing environmental changes including sea level rise, and more frequent and intense tropical storms and storm surges, these unique coastal ecosystems are dramatically impacted in multiple ways: degradation of fisheries and protective mangroves; freshwater security from flooding and pollution; and, land subsidence on coastlines are just a few of the challenges.

Meanwhile, a large number of megacities – Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro, Dhaka, Lagos, etc. – are at high risk, given the socio-economic and development challenges they already face, which are exacerbated when extreme events and natural disasters occur. Their resilience and ability to adapt is quickly tested – this is even the case, albeit to a lesser degree, in cities within the Global North such as New York City. What can be learned and shared by coastal cities in different regions around the world with respect the socio-economic and ecological challenges in light of global environmental change? What are the risks and coping strategies, in particular, of vulnerable populations? What, if any, are the synergies between disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and how is this being applied in urban coastal areas? What governance and infrastructural (both hard and soft) opportunities and challenges exist in these coastal communities? How can they become more resilient and, furthermore, low-carbon in the future?

Keywords: coastal cities, disaster risk reduction, climate change, adaptation, disaster management, resilience, governance



  • More comparative analysis across cases in the Global North and Global South is needed. 
  • Responses can never be uniform given the circumstances of events, the relationship with communities and government, and underlying power structures, but sharing of ‘success’ stories would be useful, particularly for developing cities.
  • Low-carbon policies that encourage the application of both mitigation and adaptation, including green infrastructure, are needed in urban and urbanizing areas.
  • Public participation in the decisionmaking process, increasing awareness of urbanization processes with climate change interactions, and human/environmental protection should be framed and communicated in ways that are sensitive to the needs and capacity of the respective urban area or community.



Xiangrong Wang, Fudan University, Shanghai, China



Xiangrong Wang, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

Presentation Title: Shared Learning Across Coast Cities: Impacts, Vulnerability and Socio-Ecological Responses

Peter Elias, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria

Presentation Title: Differential vulnerability and dilemma of responses to climate change in low-income coastal communities of Lagos

Yangfan Li, Xiamen University, Xiamen, China

Presentation Title: Development and application of a methodology for spatial vulnerability assessment of coastal environmental change in China

Ebinezer Florano, University of the Philippines, Quezon City, The Philippines

Presentation Title: Community governance for disaster recovery and resilience: Four case studies in the Philippines

William Solecki, Hunter College – Hunter College, City University of New York, New York, NY, USA

Presentation Title: Recovery from disaster and the seeds of urban transformation


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