GW Integration Dialogue #3: Managing Groundwater in Coastal Areas and SIDS
Coastal ecosystems sit at the nexus of terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments and are among the most productive, threatened and complex ecosystems in the world. Many active geologic processes occur in coastal zones including erosion, sedimentation, alongshore and onshore sand transport, shoreline changes, wind/tidal flooding, and dunes accretion. Therefore, coastal zones are open and dynamic systems with numerous internal processes as well as interactions with the wider environment, natural and man-made.
The hydrogeology of coastal zones is characterized by the layering of freshwater over the more dense saline waters of the sea. Over-exploitation of coastal aquifers can result in saline water intrusion. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is occurring in a majority of the world’s populated coastal areas.
Seawater intrusion is not easily reversed. Furthermore, the progressive loss of freshwater in coastal aquifers is further aggravated by climate change and sea level rise. This is a global-scale problem that is endangering development in many highly-populated coastal regions and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Aquifer management in coastal zones focuses on reaching a balance between protecting ecosystem services – considering that many coastal ecosystems are groundwater dependent - and sustaining the often aggressive socio-economic development of the coastal zone. These are challenging tasks since fresh groundwater in coastal aquifers is highly vulnerable to impacts from land use, surface water management, upstream pollution, marine intrusion and coastal geological processes.
This meeting is the third of a series organized by UNESCO-IHP in the framework of the IW:LEARN Project in cooperation with relevant partners. It will bring together project managers and practitioners from relevant GEF International Waters (IW) projects, country representatives, and experts on groundwater and coastal management to exchange knowledge on issues crucial for the sustainability of coastal areas worldwide, particularly in SIDS, to inform project design of IW projects during the next GEF cycle, and to feed into thimplementation of on-going GEF IW coastal and LME projects.
Agenda and Background Information:
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