Adaptation Strategies and Tools

Decision makers will need to develop adaptation strategies based on area, type of property, and other factors. Key adaptation strategies are protection, accommodation, planned retreat, and preservation [1]. Decision makers may choose protection as a strategy, armoring critical infrastructure as a response to SLR despite detrimental environmental impacts. In rural areas where development is sparse, a strategy of planned retreat may be feasible relocating structures upland. These adaptation strategies are not mutually exclusive and could be applied together or differently depending on localized vulnerability and the physical, environmental and socioeconomic setting. A variety of tools are needed to adapt to SLR [2].  The effectiveness of each tool must be carefully evaluated comparing advantages and disadvantages in achieving the overall adaptation strategy


Brief 1 Figure 12

Figure 12. Adaptation tools and decision-making considerations [1]

Tools Used to Adapt to Sea Level Rise

Planning Tools

  • Hawaiʻi Coastal Zone Management Act
  • General Plans
  • Hazard Mitigation Plans

Regulatory Tools

  • Shoreline Construction Setbacks
  • Floodplain Regulations
  • Hard Armoring
  • Rebuilding Restrictions
  • Subdivision Approvals
  • Environmental Review
  • Natural Resource Protection/Restoration

Spending Tools

  • Capital Improvement Programs
  • Land Acquisitions
  • Conservation Easements
  • Rolling Conservation Easements

Market-Based Tools

  • Mandatory Real Estate Disclosures
  • Tax Incentives
  • Transfer of Development Rights Programs


Sea Level Rise Adaptation Stories

Throughout the State, communities, organizations, and agencies are examining the risks posed by climate change and identifying and implementing actions to address these risks. By sharing adaptation stories and information, we hope to catalyze action across the State.



  1. Grannis, J., Adaptation Toolkit: Sea Level Rise and Coastal Land Use: How Governments Can Use Land-Use Practices to Adapt to Sea-Level Rise, in Georgtown Climate Center. 2011. p. 100.
  2. Codiga, D. and K. Wager, Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Land Use in Hawai‘i: A Policy Tool Kit for State and Local Governments. 2011. p. 84