Introduction

The significance of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (RSGA) ecosystem is globally well-recognized, because of its distinctively beautiful marine and coastal environments, which support a great biological diversity, typified by a high rank of endemism and a large element of pristine status. The coastal and marine ecosystem in the region also supports important activities and features such as: maritime and port infrastructure, fisheries, industries, coastal vegetation, mangroves, coral reefs, heritage areas and threatened species or habitats. On the other hand, short-term variability is characteristically smaller in the Red Sea, rendering it a rather sensitive environment, with higher signal-to-noise ratio. This suggests another significant feature of the Red Sea, as an ideally useful oceanic entity for detecting climate change in the global observation system. In many other parts variability on decadal time scales was found to be large enough to mask any potential trends (Johnson and Gruber 2007) .

Concerns for protection of coastal and marine environment in the region began since early seventies with the initiation of the Program for the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Key achievements in this have been the signing of Jeddah Convention in 1982, and the establishment of PERSGA as intergovernmental body to perform the functions necessary to implement the regional convention. During the past two decades, great advances have been made through PERSGA programs, towards gaining the indispensable knowledge about the coastal and marine environment, and implementing sustainable management. Yet, the last State of Marine Environment Report (2006)  has identified several shortcomings and recommended many additional actions. In this respect, the unprecedented impacts likely to occur from climate change have been highlighted as a serious concern that may increase challenges for sustainable management of coastal and marine environment.

In order to prepare and adapt to the likely impacts of Climate Change, an assessment of coastal vulnerability in the region is needed, together with promoting and mobilizing appropriate capacities for implementing an integrated and dynamic process of adaptation. Recognizing the importance of this, PERSGA has developed the present framework of its regional program strategy, which designates a set of program approaches and actions, projected to be mainstreamed in the PERSGA long term Action Plan. The major components of PERSGA Action Plan into which the proposed multi-disciplinary adaptation measures will be integrated include several long term programs, previously established by PERSGA, viz. the Annual Training, Environmental Education & Awareness, Integrated Coastal Zone Management, Living Marine Resources, Biodiversity and Marine Protected Areas, Pollution Control from Sea-based/ Land Based Activities and Regional Monitoring Programs.

The main aim of PERSGA Program for adaptation to climate change is to establish a dynamic regional system of adaptation to such unavoidable changes; through assessing and mapping vulnerability of coastal and marine environments, promoting capacities, raising public awareness, facilitate information dissemination and developing efficient observation system, in addition to assist developing specific adaptation plans and support their implementation through demo projects. This will support the decision-making mechanism, and risk identification and management all the way through:

  • Identifying and understanding the likely impacts of climate change on coastal and marine environments, including risks to public investment-infrastructure, natural resources, biodiversity, socio-economic activities, heritage areas and human health in the coastal areas.

  • Identifying opportunities for areas and assets and resources under threat or risks from climate change impacts.

  • Facilitating scientific knowledge and information dissemination to assist communities and stakeholders in adaptation measures to the impacts of climate change

  • Promoting regional capacities of risk predictions, assessment and management; early warning and disaster management.

  • Establishing a regional observation system for monitoring climate change in coastal and marine environment.

  • Developing scenarios on the basis of potential trends, long-term prediction, forecasting and modeling.

  • Develop response and adaptation plans, along with adoption and executing demo ecosystem-based adaptation measures.

The Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden