West African Coastal Area: Challenges and Outlook

  • Jean-Jacques GoussardEmail author
  • Mathieu Ducrocq
Part of the Estuaries of the World book series (EOTW)


The Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa—WAEMU, instructed by its Conference of Environment Ministers, with the assistance of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature—IUCN, the consultancy firm EOS.D2C and the Coastal Ecosystems Group of the Commission on Ecosystem Management, undertook a vast diagnostic and prospective study on coastal risk study including the formulation of proposals for rethinking the development of the West African coastal strip, from Mauritania to Benin (SDLAO, UEMOA–IUCN 2011). This study highlights the general trends that will characterise these coastal systems by 2030 and 2050. These trends are based on the fragility of coastal systems, urban and industrial developments, and uncertainties related to climate change in a context where the sedimentary deficits are compounded by large dams and growing demand for construction materials. The importance given to green infrastructure and soft, natural solutions, assuming their conservation, and sometimes restoration, was emphasised in the conclusions of the study, as was the necessity of building capacity in terms of observation and anticipation, in order to steer development decisions on different scales, from regional to State to local authority. The complexity of the mosaic of estuarine habitats determines their sensitivity to any changes in the environmental conditions and positions the estuarine zones, which are generally populated, as sentries for the marine environment, but also for the management of the upstream river basins. The subtle geography of the estuaries and, more generally, of fluvio-marine systems (lagoons, deltas, etc.) should also teach us how to better employ the various dimensions of the rich notion of coastal area and lay the foundations of a kind of development and planning that is integrated into the natural land matrix, buoyed by it and respectful of it.


Coastal spatial planning Coastal erosion West Africa Ecological services Coastal risk management 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Coastal Ecosystems Group of the Commission on Ecosystem ManagementIUCNGlandSwitzerland

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