Coastal zones worldwide are central to socio economic development and are estimated to provide more than half of all global ecosystem goods and services to mankind. Being subject to highest demographic pressure – some 3 billion coastal people estimated by 2025 - and running high risk of natural hazards and extreme events they also reflect a substantial scope of impact driven by global and climate change.
For almost 20 years the global Earth system science and IGBP and IHDP core research project LOICZ focuses on the land and ocean-based drivers of biogeochemical and geophysical change affecting coastal zones. Coming from a natural science based approach the expert network expanded its focus to incorporate social sciences and humanities to research global phenomena of changing coasts in the context of social – ecological systems in the early 2000s. Research results are used to explore the role humans play in the coastal zone, their vulnerability to changing environments, and the options to protect coasts for future generations.
With its growing number of over 2000 scientists and currently over 30 affiliated projects worldwide and based on the recent ICSU Visioning and the 'Belmont Challenge' LOICZ has revised its agenda and set new priorities for the years to come which are
i) Arctic coasts,
ii) Islands at risk,
iii) River-mouth systems including deltas and estuaries and
iv) Urbanization in Coastal Zones.
Complementary are cross cutting efforts including regional studies, modelling, coastal governance, science–policy interface studies, ecological economics, capacity building and training.
In light of the current reorganization of the Earth system research framework LOICZ will transition into the context of the new future earth programme for global sustainability.
Illustration made by Glynn Gorick, Copyright: LOICZ