Nature-Inspired Solutions for Disaster Risk Reduction in Coastal Regions

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Nearly 2.4 billion people (about 40%) of the world’s population live within 100km of the coast. Even though people increasingly inhabit the coastal zones, they are highly vulnerable to a range of natural hazards, including storm surge, tsunami, coastal erosion and coastal flooding. Such hazards can have a devastating impact on coastal communities around the world and are responsible for many deaths and loss of livelihoods. A range of interventions have been developed to address such threats, including hard and soft engineering, and early warning systems. These have been able to effectively reduce disaster risk in many cases, but often fail to protect communities, as evidenced by the increasing number of people affected and levels of economic losses. A variety of nature-based approaches have also been promoted in global policy agendas for disaster risk reduction (DRR) in coastal regions, including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-30, which provides an opportunity to integrate Nature Based Solutions (NBS) into national and local disaster risk reduction strategies. There are already examples of NBS being implemented in DRR applications, for example growing mangroves and forest vegetation along the coastal belt as an eco-engineering solution for nature based coastal defences. Although there has been growing interest in NBS for DRR, there has limited attention on the use of nature inspired solutions (NIS), despite its effectiveness in addressing other societal challenges. An initial review of the literature reveals some related examples, such as using the structure of termite mounds to inspire internal climate control systems for buildings, using native marine organisms to inspire more resilient concrete structures, or using nature’s principles to support resilient infrastructure design. However, the knowledgebase is sporadic and the concept is not prominent in current global agendas linked to DRR. There is an opportunity and a need to explore whether nature can inspire innovative solutions to help tackle increasing disaster risk in coastal communities. NIS have learnt from nature, and nature confers resilience to its systems. Therefore nature-inspired human-built systems are inherently resilient to disturbances and could bean ideal solution for coastal DRR. Further, nature-inspired designs are based on shape rather than materials. This can help minimise material expenditure, and this cost-effectiveness could offer significant benefits.
Period13 Jun 2022
Event title5th International Workshop on Building Resilience in Tropical Agro-Ecosystems
Event typeConference
Conference number5
LocationHuddersfield, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational