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Exploring Consensus to Develop Global Standards in Response to Sea Level Rise (SLR): Evaluating the Standardisation Scope of SLR Adaptation Using the Delphi Technique

  • Jamadar, Zeeshan (author)
Publication Date
Aug 31, 2023
TU Delft Repository
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Anthropogenic climate change has led to irreversible Sea level rise (SLR), underscoring the urgency to implement adaptation measures. With there being a series of challenges to implement SLR adaptation, international standardisation emerges out to be a solution to address these challenges. In this research, an attempt is made to identify SLR adaptation measures that could be globally standardised using a consensus-based approach. The methodology for the research is a combination of desk-research and the Delphi method – involving rounds of surveys with an expert panel to reach consensus – that run a sequential manner. The research also aims at demonstrating the Delphi method as a cost-effective and time-saving method to develop adaptation standards. The research is able to develop a synthesis of a comprehensive list of adaptation measures that are in turn posed as the candidates to be standardised. A total of six adaptation measures attain consensus that include: (1) early warning systems, (2) seawalls, (3) levees, (4) sandbags, (5) dikes and (6) breakwaters. These adaptation options are chosen based on the identified meta-criteria developed as part of the results of the Delphi study. The meta-criteria is based on the reasons to develop an adaptation measure into standard and assesses three key themes that checks if an adaptation measure: (1) is a technical measure, (2) has a pre-existing methodology or standard that could be revised or newly drafted for SLR adaptation and (3) has a global data stream that could facilitate SLR based data sharing, collection and interoperability. These identified measures help in prioritising the adaptation measures that could be globally standardised. A key theme for the opposition of standardisation found in the literature and substantiated by the expert inputs is found to be of location-specific considerations for SLR adaptation implementation. Thus, to address such an apprehension of the panellists, the study makes crucial theoretical contribution to include an explanation to the relevance of standardisation to the challenges with SLR adaptation implementation. Furthermore, to propose and demonstrate the adoption of the Delphi method as a starting point to identify suitable options that could be standardised, the research develops an understanding of consensus in standardisation vis-‘a-vis the Delphi method. The study’s main limitations arise out of the limited numbers of rounds conducted that leave room for increasing the consensus levels for adaptation options as well as the missing interactions between the panellists that could have further added to the findings. Based on the findings the study provides three actionable policy recommendations to support the process of SLR international standardisation – (1) develop a consistent global language for SLR adaptation strategies and measures, including a classification of these measures, (2) raise awareness about the significance of standardisation in SLR adaptation among the world-wide community of stakeholders in this field, (3) establish a global platform for sharing appropriate SLR information usable across various adaptation measures. The study concludes with acknowledging that SLR adaptation global standards so developed need to be flexible and adaptive in order to incorporate location-specific considerations for each of the adaptation measures. / Engineering and Policy Analysis

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