Assessing vulnerability and risk of ocean planning to climate change

14:00 Wednesday 29 May


Room S10


Catarina Frazao-Santos (Portugal) 1; Tundi Agardy (United States of America) 2; Francisco Andrade (Portugal) 1; Manuel Barange (Italy) 5; Larry Crowder (United States of America) 3; Charles Ehler (France) 6; Michael Orbach (United States of America) 4; Rui Rosa (Portugal) 1

1 - University of Lisbon, MARE-MArine and Environmental Sciences Center; 2 - Sound Seas; 3 - Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University; 4 - Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University; 5 - Food and Agriculture Organization; 6 - Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, UNESCO

Planning of marine areas is being developed worldwide to foster sustainable ocean management and governance. Marine spatial planning (MSP), as it is most often termed, is a process that aims to organize the use of the ocean space, as well as the interactions among human uses and between uses and the marine environment. On top of the many challenges that developing and implementing MSP already face, global climate change will present an additional and evolving challenge. However, very few guidelines exist on how to assess the vulnerability of MSP to a changing climate, and the risk from the later to MSP. Building on a set of specific variables we develop a robust and systematic approach for measuring the exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity (the main three vulnerability dimensions according to the IPCC model) of MSP to global climate change.

This approach entails the assessment of the vulnerability of seven-main usesof the ocean space (i.e. marine conservation, fisheries, aquaculture, shipping, tourism, renewable energy, and seabed mining) using it as a proxy for MSP vulnerability. The index simultaneously investigates the vulnerability of the Blue Economy to a changing climate. Although the index can be implemented at higher (global) and lower (sub-national) scales, here we present results of its application to European coastal states. To further analyze the risk of climate-related impacts, we also investigated interaction between the likelihood of climate-related hazards and the system’s vulnerability.

Variations between present and 2050 estimates were calculated for four climate-related drivers of change in a high emissions scenario (RCP 8.5). Combined hazard likelihood was aggregated with vulnerability values to produce national risk estimates. As with other composite indices, this approach provides standardized, quantitative and transparent measures that can be used to better inform policy-makers, environmental managers and the overall society, further supporting sustainable management of the ocean space.