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Where was the Pacific?

Conference offers answers but no seats

A MODERN day land-based engineering feat which has added 250 metres of the coastline of eight kilometres long on the northern coast of the Netherlands is being hailed as one of the wonders of today’s world. The Hondsbossche and Pettemer flood defences are said to be a better and more effective way to address flooding and seawater intrusion into the fertile farmlands of this European nation. But the massive cost of this artificial re-engineering makes such solutions unfeasible to small island states in the Pacific that are vulnerable to sea level rise, storm surges and king tides.

Netherlands’ Hondsbossche Dunes, for instance, cost 250 million Euros ($USD280.5m) to build. Planning and consultations lasted 10 years, and actual construction which involved offshore barges and boats sucking sand from depths of seven metres offshore and piping it ashore took an entire year with boats and machines working 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

When it opened in 2015, 35 million cubic metres of sand had added 250 metres more to the eight kilometre long Hondsbossche coastline. For this football-mad country, the new sand dunes are equivalent to the creation of 400 new soccer fields. The Hondsbossche Dunes project was one of many offered as successful climate change adaptation initiatives to the 1800 delegates of the International Conference on Climate Change Adaptation Conference in Rotterdam last month.

The Dutch Government together with the European Commission and PROVIA, the Global Programme of Research on Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation funded the four-day long conference which brought together scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, NGO representatives and some government officials from Europe mainly, North America, Africa, Asia and South America.

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