Transatlantic Solutions to Sea Level Rise Adaptation:
Moving Beyond the Threat

October 30-31, 2013; Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

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The Trends and Implications for Sea Level Rise in NATOs Future Security Environment

Col. Janos Szonyegi
HQ Supreme Allied Command Transformation Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate, Strategic Analysis Branch Head, Norfolk, VA, USA, Phone: 757-747-3374; Cell: 757-753-7390; Fax: 757-747-3242; E-mail: Janos.Szonyegi at

Climate change is expected to bring about in the future a rise in sea level that will present challenges to the rapidly growing urban population at the shore lines. In addition, rivers' delta is a crucial agricultural land for millions providing food, income and habitat that is under threat if and when the sea level rises. Undeniably, this development will require more attention from International Organizations, NGOs, as well as from NATO.

In order to be successful, the Alliance needs to start conducting a tailored and adequate planning of a common effort, a process together with other IOs and NGOs today. Drawing from some of the findings and conclusions of ACT's Strategic Foresight Analysis, this presentation intends to identify the security challenges connected with sea level rise and describe the way ahead for the Alliance to address this issue.

Urbanisation is one of the major trends linked to the sea level rise. Expectations are that most of the population will live in coastal areas close to critical infrastructure (i.e. water, power plants, and ports). This will have security implications for the Alliance. Securing both the population as well as the critical infrastructure is a challenge. Moving to coastal areas associates to migration, which will be another security challenge in the future. Over-population in certain urban areas implies security problems that the police might not be able to tackle independently. Furthermore, resource scarcity, e.g. access to clean water, may increase the potential for conflict. The sea level rise is one of the challenges that illustrate the transformation at NATOs strategic thinking.