GW Integration Dialogue #3: Managing Groundwater in Coastal Areas and SIDS

Athens, Greece 6-7 May 2014

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.

To see all the presentations:
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Agenda and Background Information:

To download the document please click here

Group picture:

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Watch the interviews of the meeting!

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International Year of SIDS 2014

The International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) was launched by the United Nations (UN) in February 2014 to put a spotlight on the special
needs of island nations. SIDS have always faced a range of particular challenges and vulnerabilities – isolation, limited land, and shortage of resources- which
rendered the pursuit of sustainable development to be more complex.
Recently, climate change effects such as sea level rise, coastal erosion, saline intrusion, and extreme weather events have added another level of difficulty for SIDS as their abilities to adapt to these monumental changes on their own are rather limited. Groundwater resources are also sensitive to climate change as they are also subject to over-exploitation, pollution from various practices relating to sanitation, and waste management.
Further, there are often direct linkages between quality of groundwater and coastal resources. In this regard, the International Year of SIDS aims at mobilizing international interest for sustainable development in these states. The UN has agreed to support SIDS in enhancing effective water governance through development of institutional and human
capacities involved in water management by focusing on practical and pragmatic actions for further implementation.

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