Liliana Dávila Stern, MEM

2012 TRI Fellow in Vanuatu and Nauru

Coastal damages on property values from sea-level-rise and storm surge in Vanuatu

Small island states are highly vulnerable to sea level rise (SLR) and tropical cyclones due to their small landmasses and their location in disaster-prone regions. Studies suggest that global warming could increase the intensity of tropical cyclones (Emanuele 2008) and increase sea levels (IPCC 2007a). Both of these changes could lead to large damages in small island states, thus the importance to define what adaptation measures to undertake in these islands. One component of this analysis is to determine the economic costs and benefits of different adaptation options. In order to conduct adaptation analyses, however, one must first understand how sea level rise and storms will affect the islands. My research is measuring these impacts and analyzing the information to guide strategic planning and evaluate risk strategies.  

The study proposes to quantify the coastal damages of SLR and storm surge in Vanuatu, country that has been considered among one of the most vulnerable ones to the risk of climate change, climate variability and sea level rise (World Risk Report, 2011). With support from the government of Vanuatu, ten sample sites were selected within Efate Island to calculate the physical resources and capital along the coast at different elevations. The sites were both urban and rural coastlines. Data on elevation, tide measures, shoreline characteristics, zoning and property values was collected from Vanuatu`s government departments and ministers. GPS elevation surveys with associated photographic data were manually gathered from a sample of lands and real state properties situated within 0 to 5 meters of elevation from sea level. The resulted framework will serve as a tool to propose management options to facilitate adaptation to sea level rise risks. 

Keywords: climate impact assessment, sea level rise, coastal property values, Vanuatu