Anisimov, A., Magnan, A.K., Duvat, V.K.E. (2020). Learning from risk reduction pilot projects for enhancing long-term adaptation governance: The case of Mauritius Island (Indian Ocean). Environmental Science & Policy, Volume 108, June 2020, pp.93-103.



In Mauritius island in the Indian Ocean, as in most low-lying coastal areas and Small Island Developing States in particular, coastal risks affect community livelihood, economic prosperity and the degradation of natural ecosystems. Risks of coastal erosion and marine flooding result both from climate-related ocean changes and anthropogenic drivers such as inappropriate coastal development and structural protection measures. Poor development planning and lack of coordination between public and private actors have increased the exposure of human assets along the Mauritius coastline. To reduce these risks, the government leads risk reduction activities in coastal zones, functioning on a centralized top-down governance approach. In recent years, this governance framework has been evolving by opening up participatory channels and exploring a long-term adaptation perspective. Progress is driven by international engagements and demonstration projects to embrace soft measures, nature-based options and integrated solutions. We review a selection of pilot projects undertaken by the government that illustrate flexibility in a ‘learning by doing’ model. However, we find that certain governance arrangements do not allow to draw the most from ad hoc projects because they do not feed into a long-term comprehensive plan. We consider the role of evidence and risk assessments, learning processes and coordination mechanisms as key governance mechanisms required for a robust and evolving national coastal risk reduction and adaptation policy framework.