What is it about?

India’s coastline is an important part of the country’s economy. But unchecked human activities and climate change threaten this coastline with severe erosion and a rise in the sea level. Extant coastal protection rules are myopic. They rarely address climate change. Agencies and policies for coastal management are also often unclear and disjointed. To solve this issue, the Government of India released a set of 57 guidelines for coastal protection. The aim is to make Indian coasts more resilient to climate change. The guidelines cover governance, fiscal, land use, environmental, and social aspects of coastal protection. They were created through partnership and discussions between local governments, engineers, researchers, and the public. This paper presents the main features of these guidelines along with some best practices.

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Why is it important?

The guidelines focus on systemic changes and large multidisciplinary solutions that are backed by science. They are meant to implement adaptation measures with long-lasting benefits. The guidelines emphasize the need for cost and impact assessments for every project along the coastline. This can help weigh the projects’ future benefits against their costs and environmental impacts. One of the key schemes suggested for this is the ‘environmental softness ladder’. This ranks coastal protection projects based on their possible environmental impacts. So, beach nourishment is ranked better than seawalls. This is because beach nourishment is less damaging and makes the beaches more stable in the long run. The guidelines are based on the notion that beaches are the best form of coastal defense. Hence, they endorse measures that help reclaim natural coastlines, and are tailored based on the condition of the beach. These include beach realignment, nourishment, and creating offshore reefs or islands. KEY TAKEAWAY: The guidelines highlight the importance of planning farsighted coastal protection projects. Their focus should be on building climate resilience for both, the coastal communities and the ecosystem.

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This page is a summary of: Guidelines to Prepare India's Coast for Climate Change, Journal of Coastal Research, November 2021, Coastal Education and Research Foundation, DOI: 10.2112/jcoastres-d-21-00065.1.
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