Edward B. Barbier is Professor in the Department of Economics and Senior Scholar, School of Global Environmental Sustainability, Colorado State University
In November 2013, I posted “Typhoon Haiyan and a Global Strategy for Protecting Coastal Populations” on Triple Crisis. I argued that:
“Given the scale and frequency of recent coastal disasters—Typhoon Haiyan, Hurricanes Sandy, Katrina, and Rita, the Fukushima and Indian Ocean Tsunamis—it is time to develop a global strategy for protecting coastal populations. There should be two elements to this strategy: a short-run emergency response and investments in long-term global adaptation.”
I developed this theme further for a Perspectives article in Science, “A global strategy for protecting vulnerable coastal populations,” which was published in September 2014. In 2015, on the tenth anniversary of the US Gulf Coast disasters, I was asked by Nature to reflect on “Hurricane Katrina’s lessons for the world.” Once again, I called for coastal protection plans, similar to the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan, for the world’s most vulnerable people.
As I stated in the Nature article:
“The most vulnerable are poor, rural populations in developing countries that live less than 10 metres above sea level, in low elevation coastal zones (LECZs). In 2010, around 267 million people lived in the rural areas of LECZs. By 2100, the figure is projected to be 459 million.”
The recent devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria across the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas are yet another sober reminder that it is the poorest nations, regions and populations that are the most vulnerable to coastal disasters, and which need assistance in terms of immediate emergency response as well as long-term recovery efforts.