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Check-list on Climate Change issues for IW Marine Project implementation

The following check-list of potential issues and actions is included to indicate to IW Marine Projects what should be considered at key stages of an IW Marine Project and who are the likely information holders or decision makers with regards to GEF IW Marine Project implementation:

The 'Issues and actions' column identifies the main topics that should be considered at the different stages of the project to address climate change in freshwater systems and indicate actions and decisions that need to be taken. 'What' provides a brief description of the activities that need to be undertaken. 'Who' identifies the main sources of information and/or decision makers within the project. The most typical examples of approaches or recommendations are given in boxes following each phase of the project implementation process. However, the reader is directed to Part 3 of this manual and to the reference section of the Project Managers Manual for a more extensive selection of approaches and recommendations.

Issues and Actions for Consideration in the Inception Phase

Issues and actions



Define boundary conditions

Agree on geographical boundaries of coastal and marine ecosystems. They should be defined more precisely than in the Project Document. The boundaries may be natural (respecting the principles of Ecosystem Based Management, see, functional (respecting boundaries of activities within the socio-economic systems), and planning (respecting administrative and planning boundaries), or integrating all three.

Define time period for climate change issues consideration (e.g. 10, 25, 50 years) and link with coastal land use and marine spatial planning horizon, which is shorter (20 to 30 years for strategic plans). The difference in time horizons should not be considered as an obstacle. Climate change models/scenaria, which provide inputs for coastal and marine plans, are indicative only.

Scope issues at hotspots that are most impacted by climate variability and change.

Identify responsible sectors and ministries (fisheries, tourism, maritime affairs, transport, infrastructure, industry, environment, spatial planning, etc). The climate change issue, as well as coastal and marine planning, may be the responsibility of different ministries, and an institutional analysis should be made during the Inception Phase to map the institutional responsibilities.



Inception Meeting

Identify Local/National/

Regional/Global sources of information on climate change

General source of information on all subjects mentioned below is the UNFCCC website ( Information could also be found on web sites of relevant international organizations, but also on national web sites for specific country information.

The project should identify sources of information on specific subjects including:

  • Climate change models and scenaria, generally found on UNFCCC and IPCC web sites, but also Ref. 666768 (see
  • Socio-economic trends (e.g. population changes, coastal uses, urbanization, open ocean fisheries, shipping, energy exploration and extraction, etc.) (see, for example,
  • Monitoring information (e.g. temperature, ocean warming, acidification, biodiversity, sea level rise, extreme weather events, arctic sea ice, rainfall, etc.)
  • Databases and data owners within the region (for example ministries, institutes, academia - these will be identified by national experts and / or counterparts and approved for use in the project by the PSC)
  • UNFCCC national reports and communications



National focal points


State and local institutions

Scientific institutions

Identify and secure expert assistance on climate change

The project should identify national/regional expertise needed to, for example:

  • Assess climate change reports and information
  • Establish validity of available reports and information for climate change consideration in the project
  • Identify institutions involved in the UNFCCC Communications
  • Provide specific climate change inputs developing management tools and instruments (an example of a ToR for a National Expert)


Inter-ministerial committees

Project Partners


Scientific institutions

Review and Amend the Project's M&E system

Assess and eventually amend the project results framework for climate change related activities

Define set of indicators to assess impacts on climate change affected activities (ocean CO2 concentration, pH, ocean temperature, global mean sea level, etc.)

Identify sources of information to provide baseline on climate issues and on-going monitoring information (coastal and marine resources, climate, socio-economic aspects, etc.)



Issues in the Inception Phase: Open Oceans

The basic hypothesis of the paper is that combined impact of warming, acidification and deoxygenation is already having a dramatic effect on the flora and fauna of the oceans with significant changes in distribution of populations, and decline of sensitive species. In many cases, the effects of other human impacts, such as pollution, eutrophication and overfishing, increase the impacts of warming, acidification and deoxygenation. The interactive effects of these impacts mirror similar events in the Earth’s past, which were often coupled with extinctions of major species’ groups. The paper reviews the observed impacts and, using past episodes in the Earth’s history, set out what the future may hold if carbon emissions and climate change are not significantly reduced with more or less immediate effect. The paper gives very good description of the three basic impacts and can be very useful during project development phase.

Climate change and the oceans – What does the future hold? Marine Pollution Bulletin, 74, 2013 (Ref. Doc. 62)

Issues in the Inception Phase: Large Marine Ecosystems

In general for the European Seas considered here the pattern of sea temperature over the last century has fluctuated from generally cold conditions in the early 1900s to a warm period from the 1920s to the 1950s, cool again through the 1960s and 1970s, followed by recent warming that commenced in the mid 1980s. Many marine species are moving northwards. The rate and direction differs for diverse seas and species. Enclosed seas, such as the Baltic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, have only small and primarily east–west orientated corridors, which may restrict northward migration in these areas. For most open seas, there is evidence of species moving northwards and/or northern species being replaced by more southern ones. Such changes not only affect the local ecosystems, but also the international fishing industry when commercial species such as cod are involved. It is expected that within open systems there will generally be northward movement, from polar to more temperate species in the more northern seas such as the Arctic, Barents Sea and the Nordic Seas and from temperate to more subtropical species in the southern seas such as the Iberian upwelling margin. It is expected that within open systems there will generally be northward movement, from polar to more temperate species in the more northern seas such as the Arctic, Barents Sea and the Nordic Seas and from temperate to more subtropical species in the southern seas such as the Iberian

Impacts of climate change on European marine ecosystems: Observations, expectations and indicators, Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 400, 2011 (Ref. Doc. 3)

Issues in the Inception Phase: Coastal Zones

After reviewing the current national circumstances of MAP Contracting Parties, terms of their physical environment, their major ecosystems and their socioeconomic status, the document establishes a broad indication of sensitivity to climate change. The paper then considers current status of vulnerability and adaptation initiatives across MAP Contracting Parties (CPs), which involves a review of the range of plans and strategies and projects and programmes operative in the region at various temporal and spatial scales. The purpose of the review exercise was to establish a broad measure of the potential adaptive capacity associated with specific CPs. Through the course of this exercise; a number of approaches to coastal adaptation were showcased with a view to highlighting best practice for subsequent application in a Mediterranean context. The measures, options and actions associated with discrete “types” of adaptation were discussed to inform the identification of the most relevant approaches for the complex range of climate change issues to which the MAP CPs are susceptible. The review has identified a number of key issues and information gaps that inhibit a proactive and co-ordinated approach to climate change adaptation in the Mediterranean coastal zone. Overall, the information contained within this report provides the necessary background information to develop recommendations for PAP/RAC, to support adaptation to climate change impacts in coastal zones, but could also have wider implications due to generic nature of many recommendations in the report.

PAP-RAC: Climate Change in Coastal Zones of the Mediterranean: Background Paper, 2010 (Ref. Doc. 63)

Issues in the Inception Phase: Sea Level Rise

Over the twentieth century, global sea level rose about 17 cm. While this change may seem small, it will have many significant effects, most particularly in terms of reducing the return periods of extreme water levels and promoting an erosive tendency for coasts. There are significant actual and potential impacts of relative sea level rise in deltas and in and around subsiding coastal cities in terms of increased water logging, flooding, and submergence, and the resulting need for management response. Planning for sea level rise is a multidimensional problem that crosses many disciplines and embraces natural, social, and engineering sciences. Sea level rise has important implications for coasts worldwide, but the actual outcome will depend on our responses, both in terms of mitigation and adaptation, and their successes or failures. Coastal cities worldwide will be a major focus for adaptation efforts because of their concentrations of people and assets and given their concentration of people and assets, and their ability to fund large investments. Developing countries will pose adaptation challenges, especially in deltaic areas and small islands, which are the most vulnerable settings. The issues tackled in the paper include: (1) How to best plan for the threat of sea level rise and its implications?  (2) What are the major responses are possible? (3) How to carry out adaptation and mitigation responses.

Planning for the impacts of sea level rise, Oceanography, 24 (2) 2011 (Ref. Doc. 10)

Issues and Actions for Consideration in the Implementation Phase

Issues and actions



Commission studies to better understand the issue of climate change at the ecosystem level

Assess existing climate models outputs (see Part 3 references for examples of models and assessment)

Agree on baseline conditions and socio-economic factors (state of coastal and marine resources: fisheries, coral reefs, mangroves, etc.; demand for resources; population growth in coastal areas; employment by sector; coastal urbanisation; health of the population in coastal areas; etc. – all issues that have demand for, or impact on marine resources)

Develop climate change trend scenarios at the ecosystem level, together with sector representatives

Assess impacts on and conflicts between sectors caused by climate change (e.g. tourism and recreation; fisheries and aquaculture; coastal infrastructure and shipping; energy extraction and fisheries and tourism, etc)

Value Marine Ecosystem Services to create baseline for assessment of potential impacts climate change might have on marine ecosystems, see Ref. 6970 and 71

Understand (and explain) the notion of uncertainty in the outputs. Uncertainty is a very critical issue in climate studies and it is important to inform the decision-makers on the limits of climate models. The resulting measures have to have the un certainty built in. According to many, uncertainty in future climate change, due to natural variability, is unlikely to be reduced, even if climate models will be improved. See Ref.  7273, and 74.



Assess climate change impacts in demonstration activities

The project should consider the specific needs of demonstration activities to ensure they both reflect potential climate change impacts and are implemented to take account of any changes (following a 'no-regrets' approach for example). These consideration could include:

  • Review demonstration activities to ensure 'no regrets principles' is followed with regards to interventions
  • Strengthen local understanding on mitigation of climate impacts and adaptation to change
  • Develop awareness of climate variability and change by local monitoring of conditions and trends


National Experts


Develop Monitoring Plans

The project should assess if the monitoring plans in operation to collect ecosystem status or socio-economic data are robust and sensitive to climate variability or change to provide the baseline for long-term datasets. Such considerations should include:

  • Utilize national/regional data sets on long-term monitoring (marine quality, coastal erosion, biology, sediments) for assessing impacts of storms, pollution, biodiversity issues
  • Assist with developing/implementing programmes to collect/analyze marine resources and climate data where needed
  • Identify long-term sustainability issues to assess climate change over an extended period (post-project). National commitments such as endorsement of a SAP could assist with this.



National Experts

Review adaptation approaches

Review current activities within country/region on adaptation approaches and evaluate climate change scenarios, and identify lessons for incorporation within IW Marine Project.


National Experts

Maintain M&E parameters and update results framework

Ensure collection and analysis of data for project indicators (if possible, Stress Reduction Indicators and Environmental and Socioeconomic Indicators) and periodic review of project results framework to assess / report progress with regards to adaptation to climate change




Findings of the paper support the CMIP3 models as a useful source for climate projections on regional scales for marine ecosystem interests. Care must be exercised in their application with respect to selecting a reliable subset of models when extracting relevant variables in that not all models are equally reliable. Therefore, it is probably good practice to exclude models that clearly do not characterize a system properly to the extent this can be determined given limited data sets for validation. It is also a good idea to retain as many models as possible to form an ensemble forecast in order to reduce the errors intrinsic to individual models and provide important information on the uncertainty in these projections on the whole.

Climate projections for selected large marine ecosystems, Journal of Marine Systems, 79, 2010 (Ref. Doc. 6)

Socio-Economic Assessment: DIVA Model

DIVA has been developed to meet the demand for new information on coastal vulnerability on a global scale, addressing important limitations of the earlier global studies. The DIVA method consists of two parts: a modeling framework and semi automated development process. The DIVA method has been successfully applied to develop the DIVA tool. The DIVA tool comprises 4 main components: 1. A detailed global database with biophysical and socio-economic coastal data; 2. global and regionalized sea-level and socio-economic scenarios until the year 2100; 3. an integrated model, consisting of interacting modules that assess biophysical and socio-economic impacts and the potential effects and costs of adaptation; 4. a graphical user interface for selecting data and scenarios, running model simulations and analyzing the results.  Recently, DIVA has been downscaled to the national level in Croatia and Tunisia within the UNEP MAP GEF project "Integration climate variability and change into national strategies to implement the ICZM Protocol in the Mediterranean".

Integrating knowledge to assess coastal vulnerability to sea-level rise: The development of the DIVA tool, Global Environmental Change, 19, 2009 (Ref. Doc. 27)

Assessing Risks in Coastal Zones

Many coastal populations are at risk from flooding – particularly when high tides combine with storm surges and/or high river flows. The estimates of global mean sea-level rise in the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios of the IPCC range from 22 centimetres to 34 centimetres, between 1990 and the 2080s. The risks to human settlements could be reduced if people and enterprises could be encouraged to move away from the coast, or at least from the most risk-prone coastal locations. Even as the seaward risks associated with climate change are increasing, the areas most at risk are experiencing particularly high population growth. There is considerable variation within regions and income categories, and there are a number of features that can lead a country to have a large share of its urban and rural populations in the Low Elevation Coastal Zone (LECZ). These include long coastlines (relative to the country’s size), wide and heavily populated coastal lowlands, and sparsely populated interiors. Most of the countries with large populations in the LECZ are also among the most populous countries overall, with large Asian countries dominating. The countries with large shares of population (or urban population) in the LECZ are a more varied group, and include countries characterized by each of the three factors. Looking to the future, the responses to the growing risks to coastal settlements brought on by climate change should include mitigation, migration and modification.

The rising tide: assessing the risks of climate change and human settlements in low elevation coastal zones, Environment and Urbanization, 19, 2007 (Ref. Doc. 14)

SEA and Climate Change

The SEA Directive requires authorities to assess the likely significant effects of their plans and programmes on "the environment, including on issues such as biodiversity, population, human health, fauna, flora, soil, water, air, climatic factors, material assets, cultural heritage including architectural and archaeological heritage, landscape and the interrelationship between the above factors". The document states that climate change needs to be considered at various stages of the SEA process.

USEPA: Strategic Environmental Assessment and Climate Change: Guidance for Practitioners, 2004 (Ref. Doc. 50)

Adaptation Approaches

At EU‑level, the integration and mainstreaming of climate change in sectoral EU policies is the key policy 'lever' (areas where the EU has tools to act at its disposal) for advancing adaptation and alleviating pressures on human and natural systems. Integrated exercises assessing future consequences of climate change use tools and methods that incorporate assumptions and scenarios for both socio-economic developments and climate change variables (e.g. temperature, precipitation). Although the socio-economic variables are usually clearly differentiated from the climate change variables in terms of data inputs or assumptions, the majority of studies report their combined effect. There is no 'attribution' made to the role played by individual causes.

EEA: Adaptation in Europe: Addressing risks and opportunities from climate change in the context of socio-economic developments, 2013 (Ref. Doc. 22)

An integrated spatial planning method, which balances the need and conflicting objectives of stakeholders while reflecting the dynamic changes in coastal systems produced by spatial planning solutions. This study has developed an optimization- stimulation model that is called Multi- Objective Programming and System Dynamic (MOPSD) to assist with spatial planning in coastal regions. One of its main goals is to mitigate the impact of climate change. MOPSD stimulates coastal area development under various spatial planning strategies that are based on the size of the coastal buffer zones. Decision makers are able to select optimal alternative within a dynamic environment for climate change adaptation in coastal zones. A case study of Chijin is shown where the MOPSD modeling approach generates superior solutions that each of the two traditional (MOP and SD) methods on their own. This is mainly attributed to the consideration of various deterministic and dynamic characteristics when evaluating the future of coastal regions.

An integrated spatial planning model for climate change adaptation in coastal zones, Ocean&Coastal Management, 66, 2012 (Ref. Doc. 26)

Issues and Actions for Consideration in the Project Closure Phase

Issues and actions



Assess the project's sustainability

The project should make a final assessment of how activities implemented under the GEF project can be sustained in a long term, and if they are indicating their sensitivity/robustness to climate variability and change scenarios (essentially have the demos and other activities been undertaken in accordance with the 'no regrets' concepts). This analysis should be an element of the final project 'exit strategy'. This analysis should be linked to the project’s exit strategy.



National / Regional Partners

Develop post project monitoring strategy

As part of the project’s exit strategy, and before the project’s closure, the following should be assessed:

  • How will the monitoring programmes proposed by the project be sustained post-project?
  • How will data be collected and analysed?
  • What is the level of commitment of national (or regional) authorities to continue to collect and report (to all stakeholders) data

National / Regional Partners

National authorities