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Climate Change Adaptation on Small Island States: An Assessment of Limits and Constraints

Leal Filho, Walter and Krishnapillai, Murukesan and Sidsaph, Henry and J. Nagy, Gustavo and M. Luetz, Johannes and Dyer, Jack and Otoara Ha’apio, Michael and Havea, Peni Hausia and Raj, Kushaal and Singh, Priyatma and Rogers, Tom and Li, Chunlan and K. Boodhan, Monica and Wolf, Franziska and Yayeh Ayal, Desalegn and Azadi, Hossein (2021) Climate Change Adaptation on Small Island States: An Assessment of Limits and Constraints. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 9 (6). ISSN 2077-1312

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Abstract

Small Island States (SIDS) are among the nations most exposed to climate change (CC) and are characterised by a high degree of vulnerability. Their special nature means there is a need for more studies focused on the limits to CC adaptation on such fragile nations, particularly in respect of their problems and constraints. This paper addressed a perceived need for research into the limitations of adaptation on SIDS, focusing on the many restrictions which are unique to them. The main research question raised by this study was that how and to what extent the challenges by human activities (e.g., agriculture and tourism) posed to coastlines of SIDS could be addressed. This paper identified and described the adaptation limits they have, by using a review of the literature and an analysis of case studies from a sample of five SIDS in the Caribbean and Pacific regions (Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Cook Islands, Fiji, Solomon Islands, and Tonga). The findings of this research showed that an adaptable SIDS is characterised by awareness of various values, appreciation and understanding of a diversity of impacts and vulnerabilities, and acceptance of certain losses through change. The implications of this paper are two-fold. It explains why island nations continue to suffer from the impacts of CC, and suggest some of the means via which adequate policies may support SIDS in their efforts to cope with the threats associated with a changing climate. This study concluded that, despite the technological and ecological limits (hard limits) affecting natural systems, adaptation to CC is not only limited by such complex forces, but also by societal factors (soft limits) that could potentially be overcome by more adequate adaptation strategies.

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