Article | Published:

Small-island communities in the Philippines prefer local measures to relocation in response to sea-level rise

Nature Climate Change volume 7, pages 581586 (2017) | Download Citation

Abstract

Most adaptation studies suggest that sea-level rise will lead to relocation as flooding worsens. Here we identified and evaluated potential adaptation strategies for adapting to sea-level rise, based on the experiences of four low-lying island communities in central Philippines that have experienced flooding during normal high tides since a 2013 earthquake that induced land subsidence. Coastal surveys, interviews and household questionnaires showed that island residents generally prefer in situ adaptation strategies rather than relocation to the mainland. These results are unexpected, particularly because a relocation programme has been developed by authorities on the mainland. Direct measurements during a flooding event indicate stilted housing as the most effective type of adaptation strategy. Many households have also raised their floors using coral stones, although this might inadvertently increase their vulnerability to typhoons and storm surges in the long-term.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

    et al. in Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis (eds Stocker, T. et al.) 1137–1216 (IPCC, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013).

  2. 2.

    Environmental refugees: a growing phenomenon of the 21st century. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 357, 609–613 (2002).

  3. 3.

    The 2012 Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (eds Keener, V., Marra, J., Finucane, M., Spooner, D. & Smith, M.) (Island Press, 2012).

  4. 4.

    Escaping a rising tide: sea level rise and migration in Kiribati. Asia Pac. Policy Stud. 1, 171–185 (2013).

  5. 5.

    & Islands, resettlement and adaptation. Nat. Clim. Change 2, 8–10 (2012).

  6. 6.

    , & Exploring the link between climate change and migration. Climatic Change 91, 375–393 (2008).

  7. 7.

    & Island abandonment and sea-level rise: An historical analog from the Chesapeake Bay, USA. Glob. Environ. Change 16, 40–47 (2005).

  8. 8.

    , & Where does climate fit? Vulnerability to climate change in the context of multiple stressors in Funafuti, Tuvalu. Glob. Environ. Change 30, 43–55 (2015).

  9. 9.

    & Climate change, migration and adaptation in Funafuti, Tuvalu. Glob. Environ. Change 19, 105–112 (2009).

  10. 10.

    & Sea-level rise and its impact on coastal zones. Science 328, 1517–1520 (2010).

  11. 11.

    & Atoll Island States and International Law: Climate Change Displacement and Sovereignty (Springer, 2014).

  12. 12.

    & Impacts and responses to sea-level rise: a global analysis of the SRES scenarios over the twenty-first century. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A. 364, 1073–1095 (2006).

  13. 13.

    A remote pacific nation, threatened by rising seas. The New York Times (2 July 2016);

  14. 14.

    , & Potential in-situ adaptation strategies for climate-related sea-level rise: insights from a small island in the Philippines experiencing earthquake-induced land subsidence. J. Sustain. 4, 44–53 (2016).

  15. 15.

    in Migration, Environment and Climate Change (eds Piguet, E., Pecoud, A. & de Guchteneire, P.) 102–137 (UNESCO, 2011).

  16. 16.

    et al. in Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability (eds Barros, V. et al.) 1613–1654 (IPCC, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2014).

  17. 17.

    Land and Sea Changes Triggered by the October 15, 2013 Earthquake and their Impacts to Habitation and Coastal Resources (UP-MSI, Diliman, 2014).

  18. 18.

    , & in Improving Coastal Livelihoods through Sustainable Aquaculture Practices (eds Haylor, G. et al.) 193–257 (APEC Secretariat, 2003).

  19. 19.

    , , & Climate change: migration as adaptation. Nature 478, 447–449 (2011).

  20. 20.

    , , , & Cultural dimensions of climate change impacts and adaptation. Nat. Clim. Change 3, 112–117 (2013).

  21. 21.

    , , , & In Search of Shelter: Mapping the Effects of Climate Change on Human Migration and Displacement (Care International, 2009).

  22. 22.

    , , , & Experimental study on the condition of evaluation under flood situation caused by tsunami. Ann. J. Coast. Eng. JSCE 52, 1256–1260 (2005).

  23. 23.

    , , , & Preliminary study on feasible safe evacuation in flood disaster. Proc. Hydraul. Eng. JSCE 39, 879–882 (1995).

  24. 24.

    et al. Are there social limits to adaptation to climate change? Climatic Change 93, 335–354 (2009).

  25. 25.

    Monitoring Instruction (Reef Check Foundation, 2016);

  26. 26.

    , , & Foraminifera as bioindicators in coral reef assessment and monitoring: the foram index. Environ. Monit. Assess. 81, 221–238 (2003).

  27. 27.

    & The dynamic response of reef islands to sea-level rise: evidence from multi-decadal analysis of island change in the Central Pacific. Glob. Planet. Change 72, 234–246 (2010).

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank The University of Tokyo, Graduate Program in Sustainability Science—Global Leadership Initiative for their generous research funding support. Most importantly, we would like to thank the Municipal Government of Tubigon, and the island communities of Batasan, Bilangbilangan, Pangapasan and Ubay for their full cooperation in this research.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. University of Tokyo, Graduate Program in Sustainability Science—Global Leadership Initiative, Environmental Studies Building, 5-1-5 Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa City, Chiba 277-8563, Japan

    • Ma. Laurice Jamero
    • , Motoharu Onuki
    • , Miguel Esteban
    •  & Ven Paolo Valenzuela
  2. Zoological Society of London, 48 Burgos St., La Paz, Ilo-Ilo City 5000, Philippines

    • Xyza Kristina Billones-Sensano
    • , Nicholson Tan
    •  & Angelie Nellas
  3. Tokyo Institute of Technology, School of Environment and Society, 2-12-1 Ookayama, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-8550, Japan

    • Hiroshi Takagi
  4. Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, Faculty of Civil Engineering, 268 Ly Thuong Kiet St., Dist.10, Ho Chi Minh City 700000, Vietnam

    • Nguyen Danh Thao

Authors

  1. Search for Ma. Laurice Jamero in:

  2. Search for Motoharu Onuki in:

  3. Search for Miguel Esteban in:

  4. Search for Xyza Kristina Billones-Sensano in:

  5. Search for Nicholson Tan in:

  6. Search for Angelie Nellas in:

  7. Search for Hiroshi Takagi in:

  8. Search for Nguyen Danh Thao in:

  9. Search for Ven Paolo Valenzuela in:

Contributions

M.L.J. designed the study, gathered data in the field, and analysed results. M.O. provided academic support for the study, including guidance on how to analyse and present data. M.E. helped gather and analyse data, as well as polish the final text of this article. X.K.B.-S. and N.T. provided technical assistance during the field surveys and helped analyse results. A.N., H.T. and N.D.T. guided analysis of the data. V.P.V. helped gather data in the field and took drone footage of Ubay island.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ma. Laurice Jamero.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Information

Videos

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Movie

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate3344

Further reading