The Impact of Sea Level Rise on Developing Countries: A Comparative Analysis

51 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016  

Susmita Dasgupta

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Benoit Laplante

Independent Consultant

Craig M. Meisner

The World Bank

David Wheeler

Center for Global Development

David Jianping Yan

Independent Consultant

Date Written: February 1, 2007

Abstract

Sea level rise (SLR) due to climate change is a serious global threat. The scientific evidence is now overwhelming. Continued growth of greenhouse gas emissions and associated global warming could well promote SLR of 1m-3m in this century, and unexpectedly rapid breakup of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets might produce a 5m SLR. In this paper, the authors have assessed the consequences of continued SLR for 84 developing countries. Geographic Information System (GIS) software has been used to overlay the best available, spatially-disaggregated global data on critical impact elements (land, population, agriculture, urban extent, wetlands, and GDP) with the inundation zones projected for 1-5m SLR. The results reveal that hundreds of millions of people in the developing world are likely to be displaced by SLR within this century, and accompanying economic and ecological damage will be severe for many. At the country level, results are extremely skewed, with severe impacts limited to a relatively small number of countries. For these countries (such as Vietnam, A. R. of Egypt, and The Bahamas), however, the consequences of SLR are potentially catastrophic. For many others, including some of the largest (such as China), the absolute magnitudes of potential impacts are very large. At the other extreme, many developing countries experience limited impacts. Among regions, East Asia and the Middle East and North Africa exhibit the greatest relative impacts. To date, there is little evidence that the international community has seriously considered the implications of SLR for population location and infrastructure planning in developing countries. The authors hope that the information provided in this paper will encourage immediate planning for adaptation.

Keywords: Wetlands, Climate Change, Population Policies, Country Strategy & Performance, Geographical Information Systems

Suggested Citation

Dasgupta, Susmita and Laplante, Benoit and Meisner, Craig M. and Wheeler, David and Jianping Yan, David, The Impact of Sea Level Rise on Developing Countries: A Comparative Analysis (February 1, 2007). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 4136. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=962790

Susmita Dasgupta (Contact Author)

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-473-2679 (Phone)
202-522-3230 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/sdasgupta

Benoit Laplante

Independent Consultant

Craig M. Meisner

The World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street
Washington, DC 20433
United States

David Wheeler

Center for Global Development ( email )

2055 L St. NW
5th floor
Washington, DC 20036
United States

David Jianping Yan

Independent Consultant

No Address Available

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