Apr 1, 2007

The rising tide: assessing the risks of climate change and human settlements in low elevation coastal zones

Gordon McGranahan, Deborah Balk, Bridget Anderson
Environment and Urbanization
  • Undertakes the first global review of the population and urban settlement patterns in the Low Elevation Coastal Zone (LECZ), defined here as the contiguous area along the coast that is less than 10 metres above sea level
  • States that, overall, the Zone covers 2 percent of the world's land area but contains 10 percent of the world's population and 13 percent of the world's urban population
  • Finds a disproportionate number of the countries with a large share of their population in this zone are small island countries, but most of the countries with large populations in the zone are large countries with heavily populated delta regions
  • Finds, on average, the Least Developed Countries have a higher share of their population living in the zone (14 percent) than do OECD countries (10 percent), with even greater disparities in the urban shares (21 percent compared to 11 percent) 
  • Finds that almost two-thirds of urban settlements with populations greater than 5 million fall, at least partly