Environmental Management

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 159–173 | Cite as

Pressures, trends, and impacts in coastal zones: Interactions between socioeconomic and natural systems

  • R. K. Turner
  • S. Subak
  • W. N. Adger


This paper assesses the status of coastal zones in the context of expected climate change and its related impacts, as well as current and future socioeconomic pressures and impacts. It is argued that external stresses and shocks relating to sea-level rise and other changes will tend to exacerbate existing environmental pressures and damage in coastal zones. Coastal zones are under increasing stress because of an interrelated set of planning failures including information, economic market, and policy intervention failures. Moves towards integrated coastal zone management are urgently required to guide the coevolution of natural and human systems. Overtly technocentric claims that assessments of vulnerability undertaken to date are overestimates of likely future damages from global warming are premature. While it is the case that forecasts of sea-level rise have been scaled down, much uncertainty remains over, for example, combined storm, sea surge, and other events. In any case, within the socioeconomic analyses of the problem, resource valuations have been at best only partial and have failed to incorporate sensitivity analysis in terms of the discount rates utilized. This would indicate an underestimation of potential damage costs. Overall, a precautionary approach is justified based on the need to act ahead of adequate information acquisition, economically efficient resource pricing and proactive coastal planning.

Key words

Coastal zone management Environmental damage valuation Climate change Sea-level rise 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. K. Turner
    • 1
    • 2
  • S. Subak
    • 1
    • 2
  • W. N. Adger
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment (CSERGE)University of East AngliaNorwichUK
  2. 2.University College LondonUK

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