Adaptation is defined as the planned or unplanned, reactive or anticipatory, successful or unsuccessful response of a system to a change in its environment. This paper examines the current status of adaptation to sea-level rise and climate change in the context of European coasts. Adaptation can greatly reduce the impact of sea-level rise (and other coastal changes), although it requires adjustment of coastal management policies to changing circumstances. Consequently, adaptation is a social, political, and economic process, rather than just a technical exercise, as it is often conceived. The Synthesis and Upscaling of sea-level Rise Vulnerability Assessment Studies project has shown that adaptation to sea-level rise is widely divergent among European countries. Crudely, four groups of countries were identified:
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Vol. 2008 • No. 242