Extreme weather events and failure to adapt to the likely impacts of climate change are two of the most significant threats to humanity. Therefore, many local communities are preparing adaptation plans. Even so, much of what was done has not been published in the peer-reviewed literature. This means that consideration of adaptation options for local communities is limited. With the objective of assisting in the development of adaptation plans, we present 80 adaptation options suitable for coastal communities that can be applied by local governments. They are a catena of options from defend to co-exist and finally, retreat that progresses as impacts become less manageable. Options are organized according to their capacity to protect local properties and infrastructure, natural systems, food production, availability of fresh and drinking water and well-being of the local population, as these are likely to be affected by climate change. To respond to multiple threats, ‘soft’ options, such as awareness raising, planning, political articulation and financial incentives, insurance and professional skills enhancement, can be encouraged immediately at relatively low cost and are reversible. For specific threats, options emphasize change in management practices as pre-emptive measures. Key audiences for this work are communities and local governments starting to consider priority actions to respond to climate change impacts.
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