Duvat, V.K., Anisimov, A. & Magnan, A.K. (2020). Assessment of coastal risk reduction and adaptation-labelled responses in Mauritius Island (Indian Ocean). Reg Environ Change 20, 110.
This study assesses changes in coastal risk reduction and adaptation-labelled responses in Mauritius Island since the 1960s. Using research documents, interviews, field observations, image analysis, and case studies, it analyses evolutions in public and private stakeholders’ strategies, and the levers and barriers at play. Based on 60 beach sites, it reveals the prevalence (76.7%) of hard protection compared with no response (8.3%), ecosystem-based responses (3.3%), and combined responses (11.7%) and a nation-wide shift from hard and one-size-fits-all responses to soft and place-specific responses. This shift was driven by the failure of initial hard protection measures, which has pushed the Government of Mauritius to improve beach management practices, promote retreat where hard protection had failed, resort to external expertise and funding to design a well-informed risk reduction and adaptation policy, and implement demonstration projects. The “learning-by-doing” process and increased external support have thus allowed progress in risk reduction and adaptation at publicly managed beach sites. In contrast, privately managed (i.e. by residents and hotel companies) beach sites often exhibit increased risks, as a result of the proliferation of uncoordinated technical interventions, related cascading (beach loss, spread of coastal erosion downdrift), and lock-in effects. This study provides guidance for the ground-rooted and systematic analysis of coastal risk reduction and adaptation responses and their drivers at the local and national scale. It could serve as a first basis for framing nation-wide assessments aimed at taking stock of recent progress in coastal risk reduction and adaptation worldwide and help overcome barriers to adaptation.