Program strategies and framework of Implementation

The following include a summary of the objective based components of the Regional Adaptation Program and approaches to implement the program activities in the framework of PERSGA Action Plan. Beside the regional activities, the program also support individual national projects for mainstreaming the regional objectives in the national systems as a kind of short term on-the-ground activities. Such projects are currently being initiated for Sudan and Yemen.

Vulnerability assessment and monitoring

Vulnerability assessment and monitoring is the most fundamental element in developing adaptation policies and plans. Therefore, the regional adaptation program considers carrying out coastal and marine vulnerability studies, and supporting PERSGA countries to undertake such studies at national levels. The operational plan vulnerability assessment studies to be undertaken in coastal and marine ecosystems of the region is to be implemented in the framework of the Regional Adaptation Program and the On-the-ground Activities Program. Vulnerability is defined as the degree to which a system is susceptible to, or unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change. It may include for example, a whole vulnerable area such as a low-lying island or coastal city, or certain negative impacts of climate change such as drop in productivity, salinization of coastal aquifer, etc. Vulnerability of a system depends on the degree of its exposure, i.e. how frequent and to what extent it will be exposed to the impact; its sensitivity, as different systems have different sensitivities to the impact; and its adaptive capacity, which is the capacity of the system to cope or adapt with the change. Adaptations in a broad sense mean reducing vulnerability, which in turn imply that adaptation options may include kinds of policies and actions likely to reduce exposure, such as planting mangroves to reduce exposure to hurricanes; reduce sensitivity, such as planting drought resistant crops; or increase adaptive capacities, such as access to resources that could help in responding to threats and exposures (e.g. functioning community networks, access to services - health care and sanitation, access to technology, fishing methods and fishery management, water storage etc.).

Coastal vulnerability assessments shall consider both of:
  • Slow-onset hazards such as inundation, erosion and shoreline retreats from sea-level rise, acidification, changes in  monsoonal trends, etc;

  • and Rapid-onset hazards such as storms and floods.

In order to develop a database for a detailed-scale assessment of coastal vulnerability, relevant data must be gathered from local, national, regional and international agencies, as well as academic institutions. Field surveys might be also required to fill the gaps in information collected through reviews. The compilation of this data set is integral to accurately mapping potential coastal changes due to sea-level rise and other CC impacts. Risk variables, information and data required for undertaking coastal vulnerability assessments using suitable tools may include:

Physical variables:
•    Climatic data: archival, observational, forecasts and prediction models
•    Coastal Geomorphology, shoreline erosion and accretion rates and Coastal slope
•    Sea level data: rate of relative sea-level rise, mean tidal range
•    Mean wave height
Extent and Distribution of Coastal and Marine Resources:
•    Key habitats: Coral reef, sea-grass beds, mangrove, salt marshes.
•    Critical sites for endangered species: turtles, seabirds, marine mammals, sharks, and commercially important species
•    Environmental limits, status, and biodiversity, including structure and function of the communities, ecosystem processes, functions and dynamics.
•    Status of Marine Protected Areas
Socioeconomic data:
•    Population data: density, distribution in the coastal zone
•    Economic activities: Land use, agriculture, fishery, livestock breeding, industries, etc.; Impacts of ecosystem degradation on fishery, coastal farming and pastoral communities and other coastal activities, maritime, tourism etc.
•    Socioeconomic indicators, indices
•    Infrastructure: Roads, dams, ports, social services, etc. ; Magnitude of physical damage and recovery costs (e.g. infrastructure); Property rights and legal issues
•    Agricultural pests and CC impacts on their distribution, prevalence, etc.
•    Endemic diseases (human and livestock) and diseases /vectors distribution and ecology; Health impacts
•    Sites of historical and cultural heritage.
•    Adaptive capacities; Response and preparedness (authorities and communities); Risk and disaster management capacities; policies and legislation aspects
•    Valuation of coastal and marine environmental assets
•    Cost-benefit assessments of adaptation measures

Vulnerability can be monitored by identifying indicators and by creating indices that could both be presented spatially and non-spatially. An indicator is a single measure of a characteristic and an index is a composite measure of several indicators or indices. Indicators and indexes can be useful when guiding decision-making and prioritizing intervention, as they allow for a comparison of characteristics (Downing and Ziervogel 2004).
Such indicators or indices should reveal spatial and temporal variation or shift in vulnerability, allowing for categorizing different areas/ sites on the basis of the degree of their vulnerability to climate change impacts, as well as, understanding change in vulnerability over time for a given system, and prioritizing interventions. Monitoring vulnerability will provide insights to understanding where and when shall adaptation measures be implemented, and it will so assist in developing cost-effective and rational adaptation plans.
Vulnerability indicators would literally reflect exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity of the different coastal areas and coastal/ marine habitats. These will depend on a range of variables referring to physical factors (such as geomorphology, rate of relative sea-level rise, etc.), ecosystem features (such as resilience, resistance, other stresses and impacts such as pollution) and socioeconomic factors (population density, development indicators, infrastructure, land use, access to technology, etc.). A vulnerability index combining groups of such indicators has been developed, e.g. the Coastal Vulnerability Index (Gornitz et al. 1994) , combines geomorphology, shoreline erosion and accretion rates, coastal slope, rate of relative sea-level rise, mean tidal range, and mean wave height to investigate variation in vulnerability among different coastal segments.

PERSGA considers vulnerability assessment and monitoring as an interactive and dynamic process that should recurrently feed back to the development and progress of adaptation options and measures, and adjustment of adaptation plans.

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