Policy brief / advisory note

Policy Brief: Global Sea-Level Rise

This policy brief sheds light on key considerations for policy-makers on a wide range of issues related to sea-level rise, highlighting the value of engaging actionable, interdisciplinary scientific knowledge in responding to current and future challenges.

This briefing note was prepared by the International Science Council (ISC) on the occasion of the Informal Plenary Meeting on Sea-Level Rise convened on 3 November 2023 by the President of the UN General Assembly.

The brief outlines key messages related to sea-level rise, convened from a global community of active scientists from different regions, bringing diverse disciplinary perspectives from across the natural and social sciences. Mobilized through the ISC network, they include renowned experts who have contributed to global processes such as IPCC reports.

Policy Brief: Global Sea-Level Rise

International Science Council, 2023. Global Sea-level Rise: ISC Policy Brief . Paris, International Science Council.

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Key messages

  1. Sea-level rise (SLR) is accelerating and will continue for centuries under all emission scenarios. However, decisions made today can impact the timing and degree of SLR, with significant consequences for centuries to come.
  2. SLR manifests in a variety of ways, including storm surges, floods, saltwater intrusion into soils and aquifers, increased frequency of extreme events, and submersion.
  3. Ambitious mitigation in line with the Paris Agreement target of 1.5°C is critical to avoid crossing thresholds that would yield rapid and irreversible SLR, and to enable more successful adaptation.
  4. Sea-level rise is a global issue that impacts differently on different communities, with some considerably more vulnerable than others. Responses to SLR need to be integrative and context-specific; there are no one-sizefits-all solutions or panaceas.
  5. Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary scientific inputs provide crucial benefits to successful policy-making on mitigation, adaptation, finance, and resilience related to SLR. This requires a more systematic dialogue between policy-makers and scientists on evidence-based policy options to support concrete action and anticipate future risks.

Image: “Island of Tuvalu” by Tomoaki Inaba on Flickr.

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