The West African coastal zone is one of the most rapidly urbanizing areas in the world. It is home to major industries, including agro-industry, fisheries, offshore petroleum exploration and production, and tourism, as well as city and seaside residences. The large population in and net migration to the coast is putting stress on the land, its resources, and the services the ecosystem provides to people.
- A combination of factors poses risks to economic assets in the coastal zone and people’s livelihoods. A variety of factors is increasing erosion and flooding in coastal West Africa, and putting economic assets, and people’s livelihoods and safety at risk. These phenomena, which disproportionately affect the poorest and most marginalized segments of society, are likely to become more frequent and severe in the future, threatening to undo development gains and inflict large economic losses.
- Climate change exacerbates coastal flooding. Rapid and often unplanned urbanization causes significant conversion of the natural landscape that once acted as a buffer against erosion and flooding.
- Countries have started to take action, but a regional approach is needed. Countries need to work together in a coordinated manner, at both the policy and the technical levels, using funding provided to manage priority hotpots.
- The West Africa Coastal Management Program Areas (WACA) was initiated by the World Bank in response to demand from countries in the region to manage their growing coastal erosion and flooding problems. Its objective is to improve the livelihoods of coastal communities in West Africa by reducing the vulnerability of its coastal areas and promoting climate-resilient integrated coastal management.
- The World Bank is also proposing to establish a High-level Platform to provide overall strategic guidance, take policy decisions, ensure the coherence of the program’s priorities and act as a Regional Steering Committee.
The event aims to bring the issue of coastal vulnerability in West Africa to the attention of participating leaders and the financial community. It presents the need to mainstream coastal resilience in planning and infrastructure development, use a regional approach, foster partnerships and financial solutions to scale-up transformative interventions to help countries develop their coastal areas in a sustainable and climate resilient manner.