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Spotlighting new global coastal protection projects

2023-04-19 Tamara Parkin
Several countries have recently announced global coast protection projects intended to safeguard eroding coastlines and coastal communities. CEDA takes a look at a selection of the projects announced as taking place in 2023.

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Photo Credit: Western Australian government Department for Transport

The International Panel for Climate Change’s (IPCC)2022 report highlighted the heightened vulnerability of low-lying regions to the effects of climate change, leading a number of countries to announce investments in coastal protection measures. As a result, there has been a steep rise in the demand for the design and engineering that minimises the impact of flooding and erosion worldwide.

These projects, which take place year round, aim to safeguard the livelihood of local coastal communities, landscapes and infrastructure. The protection measures undertaken range from beach nourishment, the construction of hard structures such as seawalls, revetments, open-piled jetties, and more. 

With multiple countries announcing investments in coastal protection projects in 2023, we examine progress made and highlight recent tenders. 


Like many coastal states, Australia has had to put measures in place to reduce the impacts of climate change. One such programme is Hotspot Coastal Adaptation and Protection (H-CAP), which was established to address 55 coastal erosion hotspots that were under threat in 2019. Since then, projects and programmes have grown in size and funding, with the Western Australian government investing more than $13 million since 2020 to support programmes and initiatives that mitigate the impacts of coastal erosion. 

In a continued effort to fight erosion, the Western Australian government announced in March 2023 that there are $3.56 million in grants available for coastal planning and management. Grant applications are available for several programmes, notably Coastal Adaptation and Protection (CAP), which is offering up to $400,000 for projects that preserve or enhance coastal assets for the community and support adaptation to coastal hazards; and H-CAP, which is offering up to $1.76 million to design and implement major projects at coastal erosion hotspots. 

The Caribbean

Small island developing states are disproportionately affected by climate change, with these states having to rapidly adopt climate adaptation measures to not only protect their country’s coastline, but also its very existence. 

One such island state is St. Vincent, which has been plagued by hurricanes, droughts, floods and rising sea levels as a result of climate change. In a continued bid to combat climate change, the country’s parliament approved an estimated $500 million budget for 2023, with 6% of the budget being allocated to climate adaptation and environmental protection projects. 

More recently, the St. Vincent government has secured $13.5 million from the Caribbean Development Bank to finance coastal protection projects in Sandy Bay. The Sandy Bay Sea Defences Resilience Project plans to construct three segments of stone revetment measuring 730m in length to act as coastline protection.

Similarly, the Grenadines are also being affected by rising sea levels. The country, whose economic mainstay is tourism, has had to quickly invest in river and sea defence to safeguard lives and property. 

In 2020, the government implemented an emergency barrier to protect Salt Whistle Bay, a famous tourist destination located on the southern Grenadines island of Mayreau. The urgency of the intervention did not allow for all the required studies and designs to be conducted beforehand. In order to retroactively address this gap, the government’s 2023 fiscal package has allocated funds for the completion of detailed engineering assessments and designs, including an analysis of the existing temporary barrier to scientifically determine its effectiveness and lifespan.

The Maldives 

As part of continued efforts to reduce the vulnerability of the Maldives to climate change, the Maldives government has partnered with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to implement the ‘Building Climate Resilient Safer Islands in the Maldives’ project. 

The project, worth over $65 million, will use funding from the Green Climate Fund, the Maldives government and JICA to enhance the protection of rural beaches, increase the ability to observe sea level rise, strengthen the weather disaster warning and information system, and develop a system for monitoring rural beaches, lagoons and land use. 

Selected sites like Laamu Atoll Maamendhoo, Fonadhoo, Gan and Isdhoo, as well as Addu City Meedhoo will have coastal conservation and protection measures.

South Africa 

The dredging of the Lower Silvermine Wetlands, a nature reserve in Cape Town, South Africa, commenced in April 2023 in an effort to reduce the risk of flooding and improve biodiversity. The project plans to dredge around 80,000 m2 of sediment, with the dredged material initially being stockpiled 10m away from the river bank for three weeks of dewatering. After this process, the material will be sent to the relevant disposal site.

Run-off from an upstream golf course, small sewage leaks, and natural siltation have resulted in a significant influx of nutrients into the wetland's water, exacerbating siltation and encouraging reed growth. This has increased the risk of flooding and displaced local indigenous plants, negatively affecting the biodiversity of the wetland, particularly the endangered western leopard toad.

Approximately $379,000 has been invested in the project as part of ongoing river maintenance and efforts to improve inland water quality. Phase one of the project is set to be completed by June 30, 2023.

Though this is just an overview of some of the coastal protection projects that are occurring worldwide, it does highlight the increasing demand for such projects. As global temperatures continue to rise, the necessity of providing defence against flooding and erosion is likely to grow. In turn, the industry can continue to support these projects by developing sustainable methods that, when possible, utilise a circular economic model as a strategy for lowering their contribution to climate change.

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