Ten Commandments for sustainable safe and (w)healthier sandy coasts facing global change

Sandy coasts represent about one-third of the global coastline and are among the most valuable and most vulnerable areas for humans and many other species. Socio-economic development and climate change impacts, together with traditional engineering for shore protection, have pervasively resulted in coastal squeeze, thereby threatening coastal life and economic activities, and the very survival of coastal ecosystems.

In the past, the responses to problems such as land loss, coastal erosion and flooding were primarily reactive, through gray engineering solutions, with little interest shown in the ecosystem processes impacted by coastal armoring. In recent decades, coastal management strategies have become more diverse, embracing traditional engineering solutions alongside ecosystem-based measures. Even so, many of these new strategies still fail to meet sustainability criteria.


Do not steal from future generations - This seems to be the hardest commandment to comply with, while it may be the most intuitive and important one.

Prof Dr Tjeerd Bouma, co-autor from NIOZ about the 'Ten commandments for sustainable, safe, and (w)healthier sandy coasts facing global change':

  1. Love Your Coast – You Shall Make Your Coast a Sustainable Place to Live
  2. Work in Harmony With Nature – You Shall Further Your Understanding of the Relationships Between Natural Resources and Human Welfare
  3. Do Not Steal From Future Generations – You Shall Preserve Coastal Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services by Maintaining Ecosystem Functioning.
  4. Follow Up the Lessons Learnt Wisely – You Shall Not Simply Repeat Defense Schemes From the Past but Build on Recent Experience.
  5. Use Up-to-Date Knowledge – You Shall Protect Your Coast Against Degradation Using the Latest Advances in Science and Technology.
  6. Do Not Copy Mindlessly – You Shall Assess Your Diagnosis and Choose the Best Management and Protection Practices Based on Local Information.
  7. Accept Residual Risk – You Shall Not Mislead Yourself and Others; A Coastal Defense Strategy With “Zero Risk” Does Not Exist, and Never Will.
  8. Embrace Uncertainty – You Shall Learn From Unpredictable Events in the Past so as to Be Prepared for the Unpredictable.
  9. Respect Your Neighbor’s Coast – You Shall Consider Interactions Beyond the Local Scale, so as Not to Harm Other Areas by Your Actions.
  10. Prevent Future Problems – You Shall Monitor the Performance of Your Defense Schemes, Because Coastal Protection Is a Perpetual Process.