Duvat V.K.E. et al. (2022). Internal relocation as relevant and feasible adaptation strategy in Rangiroa Atoll, French Polynesia. Scientific Reports, 12: 14183
Atoll islands face increasing coastal risks (coastal erosion and marine flooding) due to climate change, especially sea-level rise. To face increasing coastal risks, various adaptation options are considered by atoll countries and territories, including in particular hard protection (preferred option to date), Nature-based Solutions (increasingly used) and island raising (considered a longer-term solution and a potential alternative to international migration, e.g. in the Maldives). Internal relocation within the same atoll island or atoll, which refers to long-term community movement from one threatened island area or island to a safer island area or island, has previously been disregarded by scholars as a potentially relevant climate adaptation strategy. However, in low-lying coastal areas, it offers real potential to address the dual context of increasing climate risks and the shrinking of the solution space. This paper assesses the potential of internal relocation for atolls by applying to Rangiroa Atoll, French Polynesia, Central Pacific, a two-fold assessment framework questioning its physical relevance (are some islands high enough to host settlements in the future?) and its societal feasibility (are the political-institutional and socio-economic conditions in place? Are people willing to relocate?). The findings show that internal relocation is both relevant and feasible on Rangiroa Atoll and should therefore serve as a pillar to develop robust in situ adaptation pathways in this atoll.