DEME Group: Focus on sustainability

Rising sea levels threaten low-lying areas around the world, leading to an increased risk of coastal flooding during more severe and frequent storms.

DEME photo

“To tackle this problem and in line with our sustainability ambitions, we are therefore focusing on building resilient infrastructure that is better adapted to climate-related hazards,” DEME said.

“Crucially, we aim to provide an innovative and integrated approach, which includes sustainable coastal and river embankment management.”

For example, DEME carried out seven beach nourishment projects last year in the Emilia Romagna region in Italy, spread along 11 km of coastline.

Approximately 1.5 million m3 of sand was pumped to mitigate the beach erosion and protect the hinterland from flooding.

Regreening ecosystems

Ecosystems produce oxygen, purify and detoxify the air and water, store and cycle fresh water, regulate the climate, prevent erosion and flood damage, and produce raw materials, foods and medicines.

Most of these vital ecosystem services cannot be replaced by human technology. Therefore, restoring and rebuilding degraded areas to recover an ecosystem that has been disturbed, is essential for the existence of the planet.

When switching from grey to green coastal protection measures, a wide variety of possibilities exist.

Well-known hard engineered grey solutions to protect coastal zones against storms and floods have been the worldwide standard for many years.

However, this infrastructure sometimes disrupts natural coastal processes and in a number of cases more sustainable alternatives also meet the required protection levels, said DEME.

Ecosystem-based or nature-based approaches to coastal defence might even be more appropriate.

These solutions not only provide protection against storms and rising sea levels, but also add ecological value, improve coastal resilience and increase biodiversity, said DEME.

Hybrid solutions can also combine hard engineered solutions with a more sustainable design type.