Enabling Climate Change Adaptation in Coastal Systems: A Systematic Literature Review

David Cabana, Lena Rölfer, Prosper Evadzi, Louis Celliers
Posted on: 8/25/2023 - Updated on: 8/25/2023

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Coastal regions are complex environments and are severely threatened by climate change. These regions are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels, more frequent and intense storms, altered precipitation patterns, and higher ocean temperatures. These changes can pose pervasive threats to coastal communities, ecosystems, infrastructure, and economic activities.

This manuscript reviews the last 20 years of coastal adaptation science and provides evidence of six areas where further research is needed. In our analysis, we adopt a worldwide scale and multidisciplinary perspective to review 650 publications and draw some conclusions and recommendations around which science could benefit coastal adaptation to climate change.

Overall, we find a geographical imbalance of knowledge production which mostly neglects the global south, and that science needs to boost cooperation across borders and economic sectors and services.

Key Points:

  • Scientific contribution to the adaptation policy cycle needs an implementation perspective
  • Adaptation research must advance knowledge in highly climate-sensitive ecoregions, across borders and sectors
  • Economic barriers to coastal adaptation have been overlooked globally


Cabana, D., Rölfer, L., Evadzi, P., & Celliers, L. (2023). Enabling climate change adaptation in coastal systems: A systematic literature review. Earth's Future, 11, e2023EF003713. https://doi. org/10.1029/2023EF003713.