You’re viewing a version of this story optimized for slow connections. To see the full story click here.

Building Resilience

Enabling coastal communities to become more resilient to climate change

Story by Blue Ventures December 6th, 2016

The challenge

Coastal fishing communities living in the tropics are at the frontline of climate change.

As sea levels rise, these people stand to lose their land and homes.

As our oceans warm and acidify, local fisheries are affected, threatening the livelihoods of those communities who depend on them for food and income.

Our changing climate also brings with it more extreme weather, more often.

Storm over Andavadok3.jpg


The threats posed by climate change intensify the already vulnerable situation facing tropical coastal communities.

Fisheries are collapsing throughout the tropics, with increasing competition for ever fewer fish and a growing number of people to feed.

Many tropical coastal fishing communities are located in extremely remote and under-served areas, often lacking access to basic health services.

Lack of alternative livelihoods, coupled with rapidly growing coastal populations driven by coastal migration and unmet family planning needs, contributes to food insecurity, deepening poverty and increasing vulnerability to climate change.

Photo: Gabriel Diamond


We recognise that vulnerability to climate change is complex and multifaceted: reflecting the interconnected challenges of degrading ecosystems, narrow livelihood options, food insecurity, poor community health and unmet family planning needs.

Our work addresses several key drivers of climate change vulnerability by integrating community-based marine resource management with family planning and other community health services. This empowers fishing communities to sustainably manage their marine resources, and women to choose freely the number and spacing of their births.

Community meeting for the Locally Managed Marine Area of Velondriake | Photo: Gabriel Diamond
Community-based marine resources management | Photo: Gabriel Diamond
Community health clinic | Photo: Gabriel Diamond

To further strengthen the resilience of coastal communities, we are supporting the development of aquaculture initiatives which provide alternative livelihoods, alleviating pressure on fisheries. We are also developing a blue carbon credit scheme to incentivise community-led mangrove management. As well as protecting and reforesting mangroves as a key carbon storage and mitigation strategy, this will help safeguard the vital services that the mangroves offer their dependent communities, such as coastal protection from storms, building materials, water filtration, and important fisheries.

Tending sea cucumber netting
Seaweed aquaculture | Photo: Gabriel Diamond
Sea cucumber aquaculture is an alternative livelihood that increases the resilience of coastal communities
Drying and smoking fish for storage or sale
Mangrove fisheries offer vitally important food for coastal communities
Women lining up to replant mangrove saplings with the correct spacing
Crab fattening: crab fisheries are an alternative livelihood for mangrove communities
Selecting and preparing the mangrove propagules for planting
Fiherena river brings sediment-laden water to the sea due to erosion caused by inland deforestation, suffocating vital coral reef fisheries

This holistic and interdisciplinary model builds both social and ecological resilience to climate change by enabling communities to manage their fisheries more sustainably, nurture and safeguard healthy ecosystems, diversify their livelihoods, improve their health and achieve their desired family sizes.

“This approach represents a pragmatic response to the challenge of rebuilding fisheries with coastal communities against a backdrop of a changing climate. Convinced of the value of this way of working, and having witnessed some dramatic changes in weather in areas that we work, we are committed to sharing what we have learned with coastal communities throughout the tropics.” Dr. Vik Mohan, Medical Director

15 of the hottest 16 years on record have been this century. Communities living in the coastal tropics are among those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

We need to act now to ensure that as many of these communities as possible benefit from this holistic approach to conservation, and are able to build greater resilience to climate change.

Photo: Gabriel Diamond

Read more about our approach to climate-resilient development.

Learn more about how family planning can help foster resilience.

Support our work with coastal communities.

Footnote: Text by Dr. Vik Mohan 2016 | Photos by Blue Ventures / Garth Cripps unless credited in photo captions. Title photo: Gabriel Diamond.
Support Blue Ventures