Conference 2007
Summary Leaflet
Training Pack
Good Practice Guide
CD-rom of resources
DVD Film


English language version
French language version
Italian langauge version


RESPONSE is a 3-year project (2003-2006) led by the Isle of Wight Centre for the Coastal Environment, UK, supported by the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union
EU LIFE Website IWCCE Website
Home The Project Project Partners Publications Contacts Links

About the Project

'RESPONSE' ('Responding to the risks from climate change') is a three-year Project supported by the LIFE financial instrument of the European Community, launched in December 2006. Nine Partner organisations in the United Kingdom, Italy, France and Poland have participated in the Project, led by the Isle of Wight Council's Centre for the Coastal Environment, UK.

This Project demonstrates a process of assessing contemporary and future hazard and risk at the coast. The hazard and risk assessment is achieved through the production of a series of maps at a regional scale. These maps provide an understanding of the pattern and scale of future coastal change and can assist responsible authorities and decision-makers in targeting resources effectively. Future hazard and risk projections are based on the sensitivity of geomorphological, geological and anthropogenic factors in the coastal zone, against which climate change scenarios are considered.

Our target audience: local and regional authorities, coastal managers, planners, engineers and other coastal stakeholders.

Five publications:

  • A Training Pack: detailing the RESPONSE mapping methodology
  • A Good Practice Guide: providing global and European examples of good practice in coastal risk management
  • A CD-Rom: containing a resource of supporting case studies and investigations
  • A DVD Film: a 15-minute film introducing the subject of coastal risks in a changing climate, and presenting the potential of the RESPONSE Project publications for use in coastal zones around Europe. Filmed in the UK, France and Italy.
  • A Summary Leaflet

The aim of the risk mapping:

The growing impacts of climate change demand a strategic and proactive approach to coastal risk management, which must accommodate natural coastal change and ensure that coastal developments are not located in areas of risk.

By incorporating natural hazards such as erosion, landsliding and flooding into coastal risk mapping and long-term planning, local and regional authorities can divert new development away from areas of risk and seek to modify or reduce risks in areas of existing development.

The aim of the RESPONSE Project mapping is: To produce maps showing the likely pattern of future natural coastal risks and hazards throughout an area, region, county or sediment cell, instead of examining one point location. These maps can be incorporated into the local policy framework to inform decision-makers and the planning process, to contribute to sustainable development.

How to develop coastal evolution and risk maps:

  • The RESPONSE Project approach demonstrates how to analyse a region's coastline through a logical succession of maps. This process of gathering and interpreting information provides a basis for assessing risk and prioritising a response.
  • The assessment can form a simple paper map sequence, or an interactive GIS.
  • It is important to consider how the coast has changed in the past by looking at historic erosion, flooding and landslide events. Patterns of past change provide an insight into how the coast will respond as our climate continues to change.
  • The Project approach is based on the sensitivity of different coastal landforms to change, the likelihood of change, and the consequences of change in relation to the vulnerability of the developed environment and the pattern of population.
  • The typical response patterns of different landforms can be identified as 'Coastal Behaviour Systems', which can be recognised right around Europe's coastline.
  • Climate change 'hotspots' can be identified where particular attention may be
    required to manage increasing levels of coastal risk.

Who can produce and use the maps?

The 'Training Pack' guides the reader through the process of producing maps showing the likely pattern of future natural coastal risks and hazards across their area/region/sediment cell. The set of maps can be prepared and used by coastal managers, local/regional authority officers, engineers, practitioners and planners to assist the identification of future requirements for coastal protection measures, locations where managed retreat may be necessary, potential areas suitable for coastal development and to assist emergency planning. Further advice on risk reduction can be found in the 'Good Practice Guide'.

The final maps in the sequence can also be used by decision-makers and politicians to understand and communicate the pattern of current and future coastal risks, and prioritise resources accordingly.

Understanding the costs and consequences of inaction allows cost-effective and responsible decisions to be made and justified, contributing to long-term solutions.

Conclusions and Recommendations:

  • Coastal risks are increasing significantly in some regions as a result of the impacts of climate change. The results of this study should assist decision-makers in addressing the subject of coastal risks due to the impacts of climate change, at a regional-scale;
  • Increasing pressure for expansion of development into areas at risk or marginal risk will exacerbate coastal management problems, particularly in the context of climate change;
  • A certain amount of future climate change is now inevitable in response to the effects of anthropogenic influences in recent decades. Sustainable coastal risk management measures should involve understanding and working with natural coastal processes wherever possible and promoting adaptation to coastal and climate change;
  • Coastal erosion, landslide and flood risks must be taken fully into account to aid sustainable land-use planning and management. Governments are urged to prepare and maintain up-to-date planning policy guidance documents for coastal
    hazards and risks;
  • The greatest possible use should be made of field data, historical records, palaeoenvironmental and archaeological data to improve our understanding of coastal change without placing undue reliance on theoretical modelling techniques;
  • Successful implementation of risk management strategies must involve the local community and stakeholders. As the impacts of climate change affect vulnerable communities around Europe's coast, difficult decisions must be made, for example the decision to stop defending certain coastal settlements. Communicating difficult decisions to the public is an issue already being faced by many local and regional authorities. Further research and advice for such authorities would be extremely valuable for an increasing number of cases around Europe;
  • The most successful risk management strategies have been those implemented with strong support from local politicians. This support is aided by the preparation and publication of well-illustrated informative guidance aimed at the educated
  • The RESPONSE Project illustrates a regional-scale qualitative approach to coastal risk management in the context of climate change, together with a number of examples of good practice. Further research would be beneficial in terms of assessing the components of risk in a quantitative way.