Currently showing: Climate/natural disasters

26 May 13 07:10

The Senegalese city of St. Louis is being threatened by rising sea levels. Some 70% of its 250,000 citizens are at risk of flooding, homes are being lost to the sea and the city may well have to be moved.

Canals and land reclamation projects could save it but how do you justify the expense when there is no great clarity on how much sea levels will rise? How do you plan for an indeterminate change in climate and sea levels?

Climate change drowning 'Venice of Africa'

Ameth Diagne was asleep when the first waves lapped at his back door, the lukewarm, salty water seeping into his bedroom an impassive portent of the final days of his 650-year-old fishing community.

Category: Climate/natural disasters

Location: Saint Louis, Saint-Louis, Senegal


Andreas Schraft - 26 May 2013, 4:33 p.m.

Hi Gavin, thank you for sharing the story and for your excellent question. We developed a methodology (Economics of Climate Adaptation) that allows to answer your question. We found that despite much uncertainty about the possible effects of global warming we know enough to buidl plausible scenarios for decision making. Based on such scenarios we showed that significant economic value is at risk. We also also found that a portfolio of cost-effective measures can be put together to address a large part of the identified risk. For example, a case study for Samoa - which is also threatened by sea level rise - such cost effective measures include reviving reefs, planting mangroves and developing higher areas.

You can find the report under the link and the Samoa case study on page 110

Everybody should take climate change into account for investment decisions, not only people in coastal area. We know that climate is not constant. Investments need to make sense in today's climate but also in future climate scenarios.

Gavin Montgomery - 28 May 2013, 10:05 a.m.

Thanks, Andreas, for the impressive document. I am very envious of the quality and scope of the research Swiss Re publishes. :)
As the example of St-Louis demonstrates, the planning and implementation of key mitigation projects also needs analysis. As the original story shows, a misguided canal project designed to mitigate flooding actually contributed significantly to their problems - the investment was made but the risk management clearly wasn't up to standard. A key step is providing local governments and urban planners with access to the best advice and then persuading them to take it, which is possibly the greater challenge.

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