Act now to protect coastal communities from rising sea levels

Source: press release, 13 October 2021

illustration: IMarEST
illustration: IMarEST

Ahead of COP 26, the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology (IMarEST), is calling for leaders around the world to take action to mitigate the impact on coastal communities and infrastructure of rising sea levels. This includes a recommendation to standardise the way oceans are measured globally to provide the data needed for greater understanding and sustainable management.

The advice comes as the Institute prepares to host its fourth biennial Oceans of Knowledge conference on 26-27 October, the week prior to COP 26. The conference will focus on three themes:

  • The sustainable use of the ocean and its resources
  • The role of the ocean in natural and engineered climate mitigation
  • Rising sea levels and coastal vulnerability

Ralph Rayner, Co-Chair, IMarEST Operational Oceanography Specialist Interest Group which is organising the conference, explains, “This is an opportunity to hear from leading climate change specialists and to gain an understanding of how mitigating and adapting to climate change will impact the use of the ocean and ocean resources. The day dedicated to rising sea levels will then explore impacts where the ocean meets the land, seeking to better predict and respond to the challenges of protecting coastal communities, infrastructure and the environment.”

World-leading speakers at the conference from Sir David King, Founder and Chair of the Centre for Climate Repair, Cambridge University, Rick Spinrad, who leads the US government’s climate agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as speakers from the Schmidt Ocean Institute, the International Energy Agency and many more, will highlight current scientific understanding of the ocean-related aspects of climate change.

Given the misunderstandings about future rates of sea level rise, the morning sessions on October 27th about the realistic ranges by a group of experts should be very interesting and illuminating. The discussions will examine what we don’t know but need to know, and how to achieve it; providing insight into leading scientific understanding which can be turned into practical actions.

The 2-day conference will also place national and international policy responses into the context of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the UN’s Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, which is endorsing the conference.

“The next 10 years are now widely accepted as critical for climate action; this is a global issue and we need global collaboration and action. The outcomes of our conference will be delivered at a side event and exhibition at COP26 and will make a key contribution to the UN Ocean Decade,” Concludes Gus Jeans, Co-Chair, IMarEST Operational Oceanography SIG.

Full conference programme
Day one: The Challenge; Use of the Ocean and its Resources; The New Blue Economy; Meeting the Challenge.

Day two: Rising Sea levels: What We Know; What We Don’t Know; Living with Uncertainty; and Meeting the Challenge.

The conference is partnered by the Royal Meteorological Society and supported by the Institute of Physics, Royal Geographical Society, Rising Seas, Society for Underwater Technology, Met Office, LSE, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Institution of Environmental Sciences, Encounter Edu, and Nekton.