In many nations in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Asia, coastal communities are facing increased risks from climate change and extreme climate events. Sea level rise, storm surges and flooding not only cause loss of life and property, but also have damaging and long-lasting impacts on sectors such as water and sanitation, housing, health, and energy infrastructure.
Many of these communities also struggle with deploying and managing sustainable infrastructure, such as services for energy access, roads and transport. Small and medium sized municipalities, in developing nations especially, are often constrained in terms of financial and professional capacity. At the same time, public servants have to manage complex planning and policy processes to ensure that systems and services boost resilience to climate shocks, reduce vulnerability to future climate events, and enable sustainable development overall.
Attempts to support community-level resilience planning typically come in the form of top-down, national policies and programmes and reactive emergency response frameworks. However, these attempts have limited long-term value and seldom cater for specific spatial and social contexts of risk, resilience and service provision.
To address these shortcomings efforts are instead shifting to more proactive and participatory approaches that include communities in decision-making around locally-focused initiatives. Such participation leads to greater ownership over solutions, and solutions which themselves better incorporate the differences in capabilities and resources that exist at the community level on account of social differentiation, marginalisation and diverse socio-economic and cultural interests.
By creating a network of communication and action, Partnerships for Resilience through Innovation and Integrated Management of Emergencies and Disasters (PRIMED) aims to harness the power of social innovation to enhance the resilience and sustainability of coastal communities in the Global South. More specifically, PRIMED sets out to build digital infrastructure to identify local needs, facilitate the exchange of knowledge and information, and support mutual learning.
Through these interactions PRIMED aims to:
- Understand and define constraints and opportunities.
- Define the mechanisms needed to increase the participation of diverse coastal social groups, including the marginalised, in disaster mitigation and preparedness.
- Identify effective educational tools that improve leadership skills of community members.
- Improve the capacity of communities to take action and build their overall resilience to coastal hazards.
- Improve the management of complexities associated with climate-resilient and low-carbon development policy and planning.