How ready are we to cope with climate change? Extent of adaptation to sea level rise and coastal risks in local planning documents of southern France
Sea-level rise and related risks are an aspect of climate change that deeply affects coastal areas worldwide and calls for adaptive responses. Spatial planning is one key to adaptation, in particular at local level, where coastal risks might be experienced and solutions need to be developed. However, local spatial planning is a complex process involving various governance levels and decision-makers in specific social, cultural, economic and geographical contexts. Focusing on Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southern France, this article proposes an analysis of the extent to which coastal risks are taken into account in the town planning documents of 65 coastal municipalities. The objective is to assess how seriously sea-level rise, coastal risks and adaptation are addressed in spatial planning. Results show that there is still a long way to go. Local development strategies often run counter to the idea of adapting, while local authorities and central government need to take a more collaborative approach. This work also shows the relevance of using spatial planning documents to reveal territories’ attitudes to adaptive policies, and the crucial role played by interaction between decisional levels.