16.2.4 Current adaptation
Past studies of adaptation options for small islands have largely focused on adjustments to sea-level rise and storm surges associated with tropical cyclones. There was an early emphasis on protecting land through ‘hard’ shore-protection measures rather than on other measures such as accommodating sea-level rise or retreating from it, although the latter has become increasingly important on continental coasts. Vulnerability studies conducted for selected small islands (Nurse et al., 2001) show that the costs of overall infrastructure and settlement protection are a significant proportion of GDP, and well beyond the financial means of most small island states; a problem not always shared by the islands of metropolitan countries (i.e., with high-density, predominantly urban populations). More recent studies since the TAR have identified major areas of adaptation, including water resources and watershed management, reef conservation, agricultural and forest management, conservation of biodiversity, energy security, increased development of renewable energy, and optimised energy consumption. Some of these are detailed in Section 16.5. Proposed adaptation strategies have also focused on reducing vulnerability and increasing resilience of systems and sectors to climate variability and extremes through mainstreaming adaptation (Shea et al., 2001; Hay et al., 2003; ADB, 2004; UNDP, 2005).