ECEHH has has published a new review focusing on the health and wellbeing of coastal communties for the UK Government’s Foresight programme.
Foresight projects produce evidence for policy-makers to help them make policies that are more resilient to the future. ECEHH’s report contributes to the Foresight ‘Future of the Seas’ programme. The Future of the Seas programme considers the ‘role that science and technology can play in understanding and providing solutions to the long-term issues affecting the sea. The project will work with policy-makers to identify the most important future trends, challenges and opportunities for the UK from the sea.’
The review found that although there is no recognised definition of a ‘coastal community’, approximately 17 per cent of the UK population lives along the coast. These coastal communities are on the front line in facing climate change and marine pollution impacts. Sea-level rise and extreme weather events, driven by climate change and ecosystem damage, expose coastal communities to flooding events now and in the future, damaging local economies, and threatening health and wellbeing.
Coastal communities are also undergoing continuous socio-demographic upheaval, with highly transient and seasonal workforces, young people leaving and older people arriving. How well they thrive depends on factors such as social structures, employment opportunities, adequate health infrastructure and housing. Affluent coastal communities in which ‘second homes’ are especially common, but in which local people cannot afford housing or find good jobs, often struggle to support local infrastructure including health and social care.
However it’s not all bad news, marine and coastal settings provide many health-promoting opportunities including active, outdoor lifestyles and restorative mental health benefits.
We found that policies that offer a range of co-benefits to both the environment and health are likely to be most effective in protecting and promoting the health and wellbeing of coastal residents.
The Coastal communities paper is one of a series published on the Future of the Seas website. Other topics include trends in the transport of goods by sea, ocean acidification, biological responses to ocean warming, plastic pollution, and the implications of opening Arctic Sea routes.
Download the health and wellbeing of coastal communties review.