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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Coastal green infrastructure as a sea level rise adaptation measure: assessing environmental, local, and institutional contexts Conger, Tugce


With the acceleration of climate change impacts, adaptation is no longer a matter of choice for most communities. There has been a growing interest in coastal green infrastructure (CGI), natural and nature-based adaptation measures, due to its role in flood and erosion protection, and provision of multiple environmental, social and economic benefits. However, there remains a gap in understanding the context-dependency of CGI as an adaptation measure. In this dissertation, I empirically investigate the environmental, local and institutional contexts in which CGI can be used as a sea level rise adaptation measure through three distinct studies, focusing on the coastal regions of British Columbia (BC) and Washington State (WA). First, I conduct a regional study. Using climatic and environment indicators, I investigate where CGI has the highest coastal protection potential while taking into account its vulnerability. I conclude that CGI in the large population centers in BC and most of the communities in WA may not provide high coastal protection benefits, where CGI in the smaller communities have a higher potential. Second, I undertake a local study in BC, investigating community trade-offs between CGI and other adaptation strategies. I incorporate local perspectives to develop adaptation scenarios and create an evaluation framework using the literature and expert inputs. Applying the framework to the scenarios, I conclude that there are important trade-offs between the local implications of different strategies. I find that the CGI scenario had the highest positive impacts, but displayed institutional drawbacks compared to others. Third, I undertake an institutional study comparing the barriers to and facilitators of CGI implementation in BC and WA. I conclude that besides barriers and facilitators common to adaptation, factors specific to CGI, such as coastal jurisdiction and ownership; financial variation and flexibility; vision; organization efficiency and access to resources; partnerships and collaborations; NGOs; and community advocacy are also influential. Ultimately, this dissertation concludes that CGI’s context dependency influence its potential benefits, its applicability as a local adaptation measure, and implementation within the existing institutional arrangements. Considering contextual factors can support more successful implementation of CGI, and therefore can increase adaptation to sea level rise.

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