The island ecosystems, including coral reefs, mangroves, beaches, and seagrass beds, play a pivotal role in sustaining these economic activities. However, the islands face a growing threat due to climate change and extreme weather events that endanger their key sectors, vital infrastructures, and coastal ecosystems.
Climate extremes and island ecosystems
Climate risks and impacts on communities
Climatic events directly impact tourism by limiting tourists’ visiting period, thereby reducing commercial activities like scuba diving, trekking, kayaking, etc. The local communities’ livelihoods are also impacted, resulting in a decrease in sales of local handicrafts.
Additionally, there is an increase in water and power supply demand, damage to the tourism recreation structures, and disruption in the road transportation and ferry services. Moreover, frequent cyclones and floods damage the coastal ecosystems, causing beach erosion, sand over reefs, and coral bleaching. In the long term, this can reduce tourist visits to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Climate change alters the aquatic ecosystem, disrupting the fish, mollusk, and crab populations. The decline in the ecosystem of mangroves, coral reefs, and sea grass directly impacts the fisheries sector by causing stress on local economies.
Efforts are underway to enhance resilience in the power, transport, water supply, and drainage sectors. A few examples are shifting from traditional fuel generators to solar panels for power generation.
This also calls for alternative green energy like windmills and tide-generated energy. Other initiatives to ensure resilience are climate-resilient engineering, design, preparedness for transportation services, and strategic water harvesting and drainage methods for water services.
Need for integrated development planning
To address the multifaceted challenges posed by climate disasters, there is a need for integrated development planning prioritizing critical aspects like managing risks of local communities, whose livelihoods are intricately linked to the island’s exposure.
Furthermore, implementing climate-resilient practices in these sectors can enhance coping capacity with the present and future climate variations. This will balance economic growth with integrated resilience building to ensure sustainable development.