Friday, June 21
Location: Jerome Greene Hall, 435 West 116th Street, first floor
8:30am: Check-in and Coffee [Lobby]
9:00am: Breakout Session 4
(Session 4A) Financial, Legal and Other Tools [Room 107]
Dena Adler, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School (co-authors Michael Burger (Sabin Center), Rob Moore (NRDC), Joel Scata (NRDC))
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) faces escalating debts as efforts to reform the program to set premiums reflective of flooding risks continue to fail and damage payouts outpace income from premiums. As of July 2018, the NFIP had racked up $20.5 billion in debt. Climate change impacts will raise these debts by exacerbating flooding risks through a combination of heavier precipitation events, sea level rise, and greater storm surge. These risks will further drive up the costs of maintaining the NFIP by expanding the floodplain—increasing the number of people needing coverage and increasing the average loss cost per policy. Sea level rise will also further exacerbate the cycle of “flood-rebuild-repeat” plaguing the NFIP due to a proportionally small number of properties that are repeatedly repaired and rebuilt in areas vulnerable to flooding, called “severe repetitive loss properties” (SRLPs).
This article explores several strategies at the local, state, and federal level to change the NFIP for a changing climate to reduce the rising debts of the program, save taxpayer dollars, increase the safety of vulnerable homeowners, and help reduce the number of SRLPs. These strategies include: (1) initiating a “Discounts-for-Buyouts” Program that would encourage long-term migration away from coastal areas and floodplains by offering homeowners discounts on their flood insurance premiums now, in exchange for a commitment to accept a future buyout once their home is substantially damaged by flooding; (2) expediting bringing vulnerable properties into compliance with floodplain development requirements that increase their resilience by community adoption of a cumulative or lower threshold “substantial damage” or “improvement” standards; and (3) increasing the transparency and availability of information on prior flood damages, insurance policies, costs of the program to the nation, and the level of enforcement by participating communities through national provisions and improved state-level real estate disclosure policies.
Belinda Storey, Climate Sigma
Unabated economic development at the coasts suggests that the risk of coastal disasters is underpriced by the market. As a more sophisticated understanding of coastal hazards under climate change develops the value of coastal property is likely to fall. However, it will not fall to zero. Repeated coastal disaster recovery efforts around the globe suggest there will still be strong demand for the use of coastal land until it is fully claimed by the ocean. Early attempts by policy makers to reduce exposure to escalating coastal hazards have met fierce public opposition. As a result local governments are forced into an unrelenting cycle of infrastructure repair and maintenance.
Sea level rise imposes a time limit on the use of coastal property. Coastal property therefore is effectively converting from fee simple (i.e. “freehold”) to leasehold land – except that the lessor is not a person or organisation but nature itself. The maximum term of the lease becomes the period of safe occupancy. This model introduces the concept of insurance retreat, credit retreat, infrastructure retreat as key variables determining the period of safe occupancy. The climate leases tool provides homeowners, homebuyers, policy makers, and banks with a financial estimate of the escalating risks caused by sea level rise and increased storminess.
The climate lease model is potentially applicable to any location with escalating hazards caused by climate change including: wildfire, river flooding, pluvial flooding, desertification, glacial lake outburst floods, and loss of agricultural productivity.
Judy Lawrence, Victoria University of Wellington (co-author Jonathan Boston)
The world faces unprecedented and new challenges arising from the impacts of climate change. Impacts compound existing natural hazards and new interdependencies cascade across society as they increase in frequency, intensity and duration, accelerating beyond the capacity of people and our institutions to adapt. This suggests anticipatory adaptive measures are required to enable timely and orderly transitions. The level of transformation required within our systems, services and communities could be at a scale beyond affordability limits at local levels of governance and thus will require new national adaptation plans and measures to fund the necessary risk reduction. Current costing and funding measures are designed for static assessments and past climate conditions that focus on reactive responses to climate ‘events’, rather than being forward focused on reducing the exposures and thus the scale and scope of impacts likely over the next 100 years and beyond. We examined the adequacy of existing funding measures at a country level in New Zealand. We found a plethora of ad hoc funding measures which have embedded mal-adaptive decisions by entrenching exposure to hazard risk. The understanding gained has enabled us to elaborate design principles and allocative criteria that will need to be satisfied for equitable and efficient implementation of any new adaptation funding mechanisms. The factors enabling this cycle of risk entrenchment to be broken using new funding mechanisms, include addressing policy commitment, moral hazard, transparency and fiscal sustainability. A public conversation is now underway with lessons for other countries.
Rohini Sengupta, Willis Towers Watson (co-presenter Samantha Medlock)
The insurance industry has often been a silent player in questions facing coastal communities. Insurance is often seen as a limiting factor and is often not considered during forward looking discussions on resilience. Moreover, the question of flood insurance domestically through the National Flood Insurance Program has lingered in a state of uncertainty. Meanwhile, as societies prepare for more frequent catastrophes, insurance becomes even more paramount and key in the decisions of either rebuilding stronger or in the decision on what will eventually be uninsurable, and eventually, ineligible for finance. It is clear that both the private industry and international organizations have recognized the insurance industry’s key role in finding proactive ways to answer questions around catastrophic climate, extreme weather, and associated questions of building resiliently and helping communities and asset owners plan the transition from risk to resilience. This talk, led by Willis Towers Watson, one of the largest insurance brokerage companies in the world, will discuss the industry’s view on the decision to retreat, discuss the intricacies of flood insurance and the NFIP’s ambiguous future, as well as the cutting-edge science being put to use in the industry to better understand hazard, exposure, and vulnerability and other insurance-linked financial tools that can assist in public policy planning around these issues. This talk would be ideal for policymakers, planners, practioners, as well as academics who are interested in how insurance can move from a limiting factor in discussions around coastal communities, to a forward thinking and strong community partner.
(Session 4B) Community Resilience & Planned Relocation [Room 104/106]
Antonia Samur, The Earth Institute, Columbia University (co-author Jacqueline Ratner)
A community’s resilience and ability to bounce back after a disaster can be measured by its ability to respond to the needs of children, who are one of the most vulnerable groups in a community. The impact of natural or manmade disasters on children can lead to a wide array of effects that cause stress, long-lasting trauma, and can potentially have catastrophic effects on their life trajectory. Yet as average global temperatures continue to rise and we experience an increasing number of extreme weather events, American families remain largely unprepared for major disasters. Nearly two-thirds of American households lack adequate disaster plans and a third don’t believe their communities have the ability to meet the needs of children during disasters according to results from the National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP).
To address this gap, the NCDP at Columbia University and Save the Children developed the Resilient Children | Resilient Communities Initiative to bring sustainable improvements to the capacity of local leaders, systems and institutions to meet the needs of children during and after a disaster. Its two pilot communities in Putnam County, NY, and Washington County, AR worked extensively during three years to strengthen preparedness plans, mobilize resources, build local capacities, coordinate responsibilities and strengthen local response systems. To evaluate a community’s preparedness, the Initiative developed a Community Preparedness Index, which serves to identify and clarify leadership around the major elements of preparedness, and provide a measurable goal to track progress. As a result of this joint effort, Putnam and Washington County increased their community preparedness scores by 113% and 60% respectively. This presentation will delve into how these outcomes were achieved; the initiative’s second Phase working with disaster-stricken communities in North Carolina and Puerto Rico; and the potential national-level impacts of this model in building stronger, more resilient communities.
Matthew Sanders, Louisiana Office of Community Development
Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was an eye-opening event for the State of Louisiana, one that forced it to recognize the long-term connection between coastal land loss, subsidence, sea level rise, and their collective effects on flood risk. To address these issues the state made significant investments in modeling out future land loss and flood risk on a 50-year time horizon through the creation of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) and the development of a Comprehensive Plan for a Sustainable Coast. The restoration of land and structural flood protection projects are crucial to the future viability of the Louisiana coast, but it is increasingly clear that a broad spectrum of adaptation strategies is necessary. To this end, the State of Louisiana was awarded $92.3 million for two projects, Louisiana’s Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments (LA SAFE) and the Resettlement of Isle de Jean Charles by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The LA SAFE initiative launched in 2017 and used the state’s land loss and future flood risk data to complete regional and local plans across a six-parish (county) target area in an attempt to orient current and future growth management and land use and development strategies in alignment with the state’s Master Plan. At the same time, the state is working with a coastal community on the Isle de Jean Charles in remote Terrebonne Parish (county) that has lost more than 90 percent of its land mass since the 1950s. The Island itself is expected to disappear completely over the next 50 years – or upon the next significant tropical impact. The goal is to relocate the residents into a safe and lower risk area. The State of Louisiana is working with the Island community to conduct the first publicly funded, climate change-induced resettlement in American history.
Nancy Clark, University of Florida
With over 700 miles of coastline and more than half of the islands 78 municipalities on the coast, Puerto Rico is especially vulnerable to sea level rise and other coastal hazards such as erosion, flooding and storm surge. This vulnerability has been exacerbated due to years of continued development in high hazard areas, a decade-long housing crisis that includes widespread informal and substandard housing, and inadequate poorly maintained water management infrastructure. When Maria hit, these coastal communities were left devastated with massive need for reconstruction of homes, neighborhoods, and critical infrastructure. In response, Puerto Rico has developed a comprehensive storm recovery plan that concentrates its attention on “a transformative recovery” by utilizing a whole community approach to planning for future resilience and leveraging the billions in CDBG-DR grant funds. A key part of this resilience planning will include relocation of entire communities from disappearing coastlines. This paper presents a pilot community relocation and revitalization project we are developing in close coordination with stakeholders and key agencies overseeing the recovery and resilience efforts as a part of a larger regional strategy for island resilience with a particular emphasis on the North region-a territory where the conflict between human settlements and natural systems is heightened due to the juxtaposition its cultural, historic, economic and ecological assets. This area has the highest concentration of natural protected areas including the National Natural Landmark Rio Abajo Forest Reserve and nearly 60 registered historic places and remains critical to the islands economy especially for the tourist, agricultural and industrial sectors. The project utilizes a design focused approach holistically examining the existing physical, social, economic and environmental infrastructure to create a conceptual visioning plan that includes green infrastructure, healthy neighborhoods, re-naturalizing opportunities, protecting heritage sites and cultural assets, enhanced connectivity, and new visitor economy strategies.
Thaddeus Pawlowski, The Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes, Columbia University
After Hurricane Sandy, New York City created the Build it Back program with the ambitious and specialized mission of rebuilding all of the houses damaged by Sandy. At the same moment, New York State created a buy-out program with a similarly ambitious and specialized mission of removing homes from the flood zone. Most local professionals involved in urban planning and design were immediately critical of both these programs, knowing from past disaster recoveries that long term recovery required deep community participation and that resilient neighborhoods cannot be created with one-size-fits-all strategies, but with integrated planning and design based on the unique challenges and opportunities of the community. Since Sandy, several such efforts have taken root in various communities. This presentation will focus on the relative successes and failures of neighborhood planning in Edgemere, Queens; Red Hook, Brooklyn; New Dorp, Staten Island; and the Lower East Side in Manhattan.
Justin Kozak, Center for Planning Excellence
Change is the one constant in Jean Lafitte, Louisiana. In this coastal community there are the daily changes of tides and wind direction, the slow persistent changes of relative sea level rise and land loss, the sudden changes brought about by tropical storms, and community changes tied to socioeconomic conditions. They all contribute to a dynamic place, making planning for the future a challenge and making revisiting plans a necessity. The Center for Planning Excellence, a non-profit planning organization in Baton Rouge, is working with the Jean Lafitte community to update their 2013 Resilience plan and develop a “How-to” guide for other small coastal communities with limited planning capacity. For context, the Louisiana coast has the highest rates of relative sea level rise in the world and high levels of land loss but also a $50 billion coastal master plan for protection and restoration. Further, economic changes have had significant impacts on how people live and work on the Louisiana coast. As a result of these drivers of change, resilience is a moving target for coastal communities such as Jean Lafitte. Interviews with over 20 community stakeholders and several small focus groups show that building resilience in Jean Lafitte is about much more than just reducing flood risk. This presentation will share findings and provide context for resilience building strategies for a small, high-risk coastal community. Broader implications for this work highlight the importance of maintaining stable community institutions while embracing and managing change.
(Session 4C) Decision Making on Retreat [Room 105]
Kelly Main, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (co-authors Mario Giampieri, Juncheng Yang, Yue Wu)
A berm feigns to be a simple object. It serves as a marker – a line, which defines what is in, what is out. As a result, it also defines who and what is included, and who is excluded: what is protected, and what will eventually be overcome by the sea. To date, resiliency and climate adaptation planning has often used the berm or the seawall to protect as much as possible, especially in urban areas. To oversimplify this process is dangerous. Too often, the drawing of the line excludes or further marginalizes those who have been lined, redlined, or outlined in the past. It may also preserve legacies of environmental injustice and inequity. As designers and planners, we have agency and responsibility in where and how we draw this line. In industrial cities, the legacies of distribution, degradation, and ownership of the waterfront cannot be solved by maximizing the square footage of protected land. How can this deceptively simple process of ‘drawing the line’, encourage a more nuanced discussion around the question, ‘what should we protect?’ in an era of climate uncertainty and risk. We explore this concept in the context of Chelsea, MA, a coastal-industrial city grappling with sea level rise and changing social and economic realities. Instead of seeing water as a threat, we can consider water as an asset – the line we propose becomes less about keeping water in or out but rather about creating opportunities for new projects on either side; new industry, new recreation, new remediation, which would otherwise be impossible. As a result, this paper explores not at ‘what point’ managed retreat, but where, and how?
Karen O’Neill, Rutgers University, Heather Fenyk, Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership, and Shannon Caplan, Rutgers University
Rising seas threaten to put many coastal areas under water, but how will millions of people move? Who will pay, financially and otherwise? Studies of coastal retreat have focused on engineering and ecological experiments or on legal tools that could promote moving. But the social practices and institutions that people are already using to move will probably be more important in driving widespread behavior. We analyzed dozens of cases to see how and why people around the world are shifting their residences or activities away from coasts. From these cases, we created a typology of strategies that fit concepts used by coastal scientists but also capture social processes. We find that while the concept of managed retreat is widely discussed in scholarship and the media, only some projects fit this model of careful planning. Moving projects are instead often reactive, beginning only after a severe decline in livelihoods or a sudden catastrophe. In addition, many projects are organized at the household or site-scale and do not receive the sort of support from higher-scale institutions that defines managed retreat. The most common strategy is unassisted migration of residence or livelihood, which places the burden on families. Overall, people are using existing formal and informal practices–from government buyouts to resettlement within their clan’s land—rather than using novel ecological or legal strategies. Communities and institutions can respond to climate change by recognizing and supporting existing practices that suit their needs and cultures, at the site-scale and at other relevant scales. Aid across scales is particularly needed to make adaptation more just.
Yuqun Zhou, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sea-level rise is expected to increase coastal flood hazards. Providing incentives for pre-disaster relocation could be an effective way to reduce damage costs for both the government and households. Formulating policies and making relocation decisions constitutes a game between the government and households where government set a retreat policy as the first move and household select when to relocate to get minimal loss as second. This paper uses game theory to explore strategies by which governments might encourage households living in flood-vulnerable areas to relocate prior to disasters. We examine the impacts of different government and household discount rates. We find that offering a subsidy (e.g., a partial buyout) can be effective if the government has a significantly lower discount rate than households. A sensitivity analysis also illustrates how the optimal timing of anticipatory relocation depends on government and household discount rates and relocation costs. We also examine the use of a fixed annual benefit after relocation (instead of a one-time subsidy) and compare the effects of hyperbolic and standard exponential discounting to see what myopic decision Kunreuther et al. (2013) leads to. Using Kopp et al. (2014) and Buchanan et al. (2017) to quantify annual changes in flood probabilities by year in different metropolitan areas under a variety of scenarios, those case studies illustrate regional variation in the sensitivity to flood relocation due to difference in local sea-level rise rates (Buchanan et al. 2016) and housing cost. This game-theoretic model sets the stage for future agent-based modeling research that simulates interactions among households with differences in housing costs, discount rates and other factors influencing their propensity to relocate.
Brent Doberstein, University of Waterloo
One of the most difficult aspects of managed retreat is deciding who, or what entity, should ultimately make the decision to retreat. Managed retreat typically involves multiple stakeholders and actors: communities, scientists, planners, politicians, activists, consultants, insurance companies and government agencies are all typically involved in one aspect or another of the decision to retreat, but who should be empowered to make the final decision? This presentation reviews multiple examples drawn from global experiences with managed retreat in order to outline the difficult, multi-stakeholder and multi-scalar landscape surrounding retreat, and examines the issue of decision responsibility and decision-making authority. Cases from both developed (e.g. managed retreat in Newtok, Alaska, Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana, and Coastal New Jersey/New York after Hurricane Sandy) and developing countries (e.g. El Choncho, Colombia, and Vunidogoloa, Fiji) are reviewed and their various similarities and differences are highlighted. Several frameworks for decision-making are put forth, and their value in the managed retreat sphere are discussed.
Kate Boicourt, Waterfront Alliance and Sanjukta Sen, Field Operations
The waterways that surround us are a powerful reminder that we share not only the benefits they provide—as a resource for recreation and wellbeing, education, and good-paying jobs—but also the risks they pose, urging all of us to act to protect our region for future generations. By 2050, more than one million people will be located within the floodplain regionally. Progress has been made. And yet, is grossly insufficient compared to the problem’s magnitude. We need a proactive path forward.
Drawing on in- and out-of-region case studies and policy ideas identified by a regional resilience task force convened by the Waterfront Alliance and comprised of experts, activists, and business and community leaders, the presentation will focus on four aspects of the issue:
– Who pays and how: performance-linked bonds, public and privately-funded trusts, government funding. Multiple ideas have been proposed. Where have they been tried? Succeeded? What has traction?
– Who decides: addressing sea level rise and coastal storms are a regional issue, yet decision-making and capital planning is often managed according to agency, funding source, and regulatory authority. How are we doing, and how can we do better? What policies surrounding how we build or do not build need to change?
– What resilience measures: how much funding do we need? And for what kinds of projects? What is the expected unmet need/demand for floodplain acquisitions? Built resiliency projects?
– How do we break through: we need broad support to move forward on resilience measures. How are we going to do it?
Speakers will give a high-level overview of the ideas being pursued by the task force, and will zoom in on specific existing and potential areas for addressing our regional risk.
(Session 4D) Infrastructure and Investment [Room 102B]
Rae Zimmerman, New York University – Wagner School
Retreat as a coastal zone management strategy for resilience in extreme events and climate change needs to incorporate the interfaces between infrastructures and the buildings and other structures they support, and the fact that infrastructures are connected to one another. Buildings and other development components are intimately dependent on infrastructure. If buildings retreat the infrastructures to which they are connected must also retreat. Retreat options need to incorporate this dimension. The connectivity aspect of retreat is often overlooked.
In this paper a risk-based method is developed and applied to identify, measure and prioritize coastal infrastructure vulnerability in terms of its connectivity to development, i.e., location, sensitivity of vital infrastructure components, and the potential for cascading effects among interconnected infrastructures. Furthermore, the approach uses risk metrics to specifically identify connected infrastructures at risk, where they are at risk, i.e., hot spots, prior condition contributing to vulnerability, and degree of connectivity to and dependencies of development on infrastructures, i.e., degree of criticality of the infrastructures to development. Actual examples of coastal infrastructure disabling mechanisms are used initially to frame the magnitude and severity of problems and develop the risk-based approach, focusing on energy, transportation and water. Infrastructure typically operates on multiple scales with resources drawn from far away but delivered locally to consumers. Therefore, decisions about retreat occur at many levels and will be identified that way. Interconnectivity among infrastructures enlarges the scope of the problem. The risk-based approach then moves from problem identification to the evaluation of Infrastructure options in terms of flexible and decentralized design of infrastructure in the context of social, institutional, and technological viability. This knowledge is vital for coastal residents, planning and regulatory organizations to balance retreat options and incorporate infrastructure connectivity into those options. The approach is transferable to other coastal areas and infrastructure combinations.
Charles K. Huyck, ImageCat
Sea level rise will substantially impact coastal communities in the coming decades. Asset managers who understand the extent of their exposure will be in the best position to adapt to change through mitigation and diversification. ImageCat models the impacts of climate change induced sea level rise to communities and individual properties through the CRISP program. The program includes exposure forecasting that uses local tide gauge data and climate change models to forecast impacts through time based on IPCC RPC scenarios and includes an estimate of average annual losses (direct and business interruption) due to coastal flooding and coastal surge can be modeled and presented as a timeline, including estimates of reconstruction costs, contents damage, and business interruption and loss of rental income. In addition, a community resilience assessment provides an assessment of aggregated assets in vulnerable communities to identify accumulation in areas likely to be subject to a reduction in property value. Metrics include such parameters as the proportion of the building exposure affected, the importance of the beach to the economy, access/infrastructure concerns, geographic isolation, presence of barrier islands and peninsulas, feasibility of mitigation, prevalence of nuisance flooding, impact on the central business districts, economic significance of the impacted area, and hurricane risk. Results support decisions such as how to diversify risk and reduce accumulation in vulnerable real estate markets, where it is prudent to build above code requirements, where assets might be protected through temporary remediation efforts, and where more permanent solutions such as seawalls, or zoning regulations might be required. The presentation will also provide the results of a nationwide study tracking the total dollar value of exposed residential assets by county level. Results provide an indication of the regions where sea level rise are anticipated to have the greatest impact.
Jon Philipsborn, Americas Climate Adaptation Practice Director, AECOM
As a global leader in climate adaptation and resilience, AECOM is working with municipalities and governments around the world to understand and address the challenges related to climate change and associated impacts. Across the globe there is an increasing recognition that challenges will exponentially increase, that the future will be greatly different from the realities of today, and that significant changes to how and where we live may be required. However, in very few instances is “managed retreat” the approach or terminology being embraced by policy- and decision-makers, or community stakeholders. This presentation will highlight select vignettes from what AECOM practitioners are experiencing and learning in different regions, such as Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Alaska and the Southeastern US, in respect to the conversation of managed retreat and the evolution of climate adaptation. I will share our practitioners’ perspectives of on-ground realities – where theory meets policy, stakeholder engagement, and implementation – and explore contextual terminology. I will conclude with targeted questions and challenges that may be hindering progress of a conversation that increasingly must occur in specific geographies.
William Solecki and Kristopher Cadieux, Department of Geography and Environmental Science, Hunter College – CUNY
Recent research suggests the local real estate markets are being to adjust to the dynamics of the sea-level rise and coastal flooding based on consumer perceptions of future flood risk. In some cases, it seems that properties at higher elevations are appreciating at greater rates than lower lying areas at increasing risk of flooding from sea-level rise, coastal storms, or exposed to nuisance flooding. As property values rise in higher elevation areas, researchers have begun to speculate on implications for a spectrum of income groups, processes of urban landscape change, and conditions of equity, relocation, well-being, and emotional stress.
The field of geography generally and the sub-disciplines of urban and hazards geography specifically have long focused on how localities and residents within them change and respond to a variety of social, economic and environmental pressures. For example, the themes of home, place, and placelessness have been fundamental concepts within these literatures, as have been migration and relocation during moments of stress and crisis. Conditions of urban landscape change are defined as reflecting place affinity and identity, gentrification, power struggle, and investment shifts and derives from a range of behavioral, economic, political ecology, and post structural social science perspectives. The objective of this paper is to review and assess the established urban geography and hazards geography research to determine how it collectively can inform our understanding of how sea level rise and conditions of dynamic coastal risk will impact communities and their residents in vulnerable sites in United States now and potentially in the future.
10:30am: Coffee Break [Lobby]
11:00am: Breakout Session 5
(Session 5A) International Comparative Perspectives [Room 107]
Clarisa Diaz, New York University (co-author Andrew Kruczkiewicz)
This presentation will explore the role of Design within the constraints of climate change by thinking and working through a real-life case study. Dar es Salaam in Tanzania is selected as a location of rapid urban change and more frequent flooding. Methodologies of Design research and practice are applied to a new Climate and Design course taught at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Using background information provided by the course partner, the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, the city is studied to understand how it has evolved, the current social and climate related stressors, and what needs may be present in communities that live there.
The course is studio based with an output of creative design proposals exploring questions like: How would residents receive communication of approaching storms? How could the city develop protection from floods? How might someone get food when the streets are uninhabitable? Questions on managing retreat are explored through the proposals in protecting residents from regular flooding.
The presentation will explain processes and proposals resulting from the course. The end result is to gain a better understanding of macro and micro issues at hand when it comes to climate adaptation solutions, the various people that need them, and the role integrated media and technology plays in addressing issues of risk communication.
Geronimo Gussmann, Global Climate Forum e.V. (co-author Jochen Hinkel)
The Maldives face extensive coastal risks. Currently, in-situ adaptations are the predominant response to rising sea-levels. However, under high sea-level rise scenarios, relocating vulnerable island communities will become inevitable. Yet, there is little empirical knowledge about the governance of relocations. While the literature often highlights risks and benefits, it remains unclear under which circumstances relocation policies form and how they are implemented. Therefore, we analyzed 18 cases of planned relocations over the period of 1996-2016. We used the Multiple Streams Approach to explain how relocation policies have formed and how the different cases were governed. To gather data, we conducted semi-structured interviews with key respondents involved in the process of planned relocations. Respondents covered relevant sectors from government, civil society as well as members of moved communities. Interview data was complemented with a desk review of relevant policy documents, reports and literature. We find that over 8200 people have been relocated in the 20-year period. Twelve of the investigated cases were moved under a population consolidation policy. Six other cases were relocated following destruction of the 2004 Tsunami. In all cases relocations were either initiated by the communities or followed vast destruction of the home island. Overall, we find little social tensions on destination islands. One reason for this is that relocation-costs were borne by the government that provided disaster relief, houses as well as a relocation bonus per household. The empirical cases demonstrate that governance of planned relocations can be inclusive and reduce coastal risks when windows of opportunity are seized to move.
Judy Lawrence, Victoria University of Wellington (co-authors Robbert Bell, Paula Blackett)
The practice of adaptation requires governance frameworks which encompass values, rules, adept funding mechanisms and knowledge while eliminating the typically siloed practices found between engineering, planning, law, management and community engagement; hereby broadening the scope of, and possibilities for long-term adaptation options. We critique the lessons about how the governance process opened up space for new and contested adaptation options to be considered, like managed retreat, that could enable adaptation decisions to be made that have eluded decision makers for decades. The critique was based on a 10 stage decision process and principles set out in national guidance on coastal and hazards and climate change for New Zealand. The governance arrangements and tools used (multi-criteria analysis and dynamic adaptive pathways planning) enabled all possible adaptation options (including managed retreat), the costs, funding and values to be addressed. The governance arrangements were inclusive, integrating planning across jurisdictions and with iwi Maori. The tools used enabled long timeframes for decision making and staging of options. While early actions moved little from the status quo, managed retreat was accepted in some locations beyond the middle of the century. The process built trust. New funding mechanisms were developed and a consensus on pathways was built. The process was the first of its type, executed in a coastal policy setting in New Zealand. This learning experiment in a real-life decision setting has application elsewhere, by showing how a shift can occur in the scope of adaptation options and thus embed new practice.
Christina Hanna, University of Waikato (co-authors Professor Iain White, Professor Bruce Glavovic)
Difficulties in facilitating managed retreat in practice has turned scholarly attention towards the appropriateness and effectiveness of national institutional, regulatory, and policy frameworks. This research draws from a national review of local planning policy in New Zealand, and a case study of a highly contested ongoing managed retreat process, to better understand the ways that existing governance arrangements present opportunities and challenges for building resilience. The analysis of local plans and policy revealed that while managed retreat is often talked about in the singular, it is more accurate to describe the strategy as an umbrella term encompassing a range of approaches—each of which may be appropriate dependent upon the risk context and which present, and provoke, differing societal issues and responses. The research then uses a case study of the township of Matatā in the Bay of Plenty region, to delve more deeply into how these issues play out in practice. In the aftermath of a disaster, the local government developed a voluntary land acquisition package for the township, supported by unprecedented regulation to extinguish the existing use rights of property owners. Semi-structured interviews of members of the community at risk and key professional stakeholders have uncovered both significant procedural and social barriers, and wider insights into the need for effective institutional frameworks and directive policy. Issues such as arbitrary government interventions, regulatory voids, jurisdictional constraints, and poor funding support have resulted in an inconsistent environment where local government struggle to implement managed retreat, and where the resultant process of trial and error generates both public contestation and distrust in science and policy. This has resulted in a valuable process of policy learning that holds value within New Zealand and to the international community more generally.
James Fitton, Aalborg University (co-authors Dr Martin Lehmann (Aalborg University), Dr. David C. Major (Columbia University))
Coastal cities face many impacts from climate change, such as sea level rise, storm surges, flooding, erosion, and salt-water intrusion. Major cities such as New York and Copenhagen, which have access to significant finance and expertise, have taken the lead and developed comprehensive and innovative adaptation frameworks. In contrast, smaller coastal communities (urban areas with less than 100,000 people) often have limited information about local climate change impacts, and lack both the financial resources and the engineering and planning bases to develop appropriate measures, including managed retreat.Given that approximately 60% of the global coastal population do not live in large cities (Small and Nicholls, 2003) it is imperative perspectives from small coastal communities are included within discussions about utilising managed retreat as an adaptation option.
In this paper we present some of the conclusions from a forthcoming special journal issue on coastal adaptation in coastal towns and small cities, in which 22 case studies are used to assess the challenges and opportunities of adapting to the impacts of climate change. This is a part of a larger project on adaptation to climate change in small coastal cities and towns at Aalborg University, Denmark and cooperating universities. Many barriers to using managed retreat were identified. However, one interesting perspective from the special issue relevant to this conference is that obtaining a community consensus may be easier in small towns. It is potentially less expensive to move, and because there is likely to be land to relocate assets, small towns may actually be better suited to and pioneers of using managed retreat. It could be that larger cities could/should learn best practices from small towns rather than the reverse. For this reason among others, knowledge about and in support of small towns using managed retreat should be an important focus for researchers and practitioners.
(Session 5B) Real Estate Markets & Economic Aspects of Retreat [Room 105]
Michael Pappas, University of Maryland Carey Law School (co-author Victor B. Flatt)
This paper applies insights from our previous work modeling commodification to describe the conditions that call for managed retreat and to prescribe effective managed retreat strategies. It offers an economic description as well as a prescriptive policy tool for managed retreat approaches.
In modeling commodification, we have argued that “adjustment failure costs” are a major, underappreciated factor driving when resources are (and are not) commodified. In all markets, pricing involves an iterative trial-and-error process, and it takes time and misallocations for supply and demand to align (assuming they ever do). Adjustment failure costs are the costs associated with such pricing delays and corrections, and while these costs may be trivial in some markets, they can be particularly high and material in the context of non-fungible or irreparable goods. We argue that commodification occurs in the context of relatively low adjustment failure costs, whereas high adjustment failure costs render commodification untenable.
These insights are relevant to managed retreat policies because they offer a model to describe and predict both when managed retreat is desirable and how decommodification may be necessary to effectuate managed retreat.
First, managed retreat interventions appear more desirable (and possibly more efficient) than market reactions in instances of high adjustment failure costs. Absent some proactive policy of managed retreat, some amount of retreat from vulnerable areas would still likely occur as a market response to risks and costs. However, such migration would likely occur only gradually and only after repeated catastrophes and tragedies. Additionally, natural migration from risky areas may be slow and successive, as socio-economically disenfranchised individuals may repopulate or remain in vulnerable locations. In such instances, reliance on market reactions comes with very high adjustment failure costs in the form of repeated loss of human life, health, and property, and the presence of such high costs describes and predicts when managed retreat is desirable.
Second, to address these high adjustment costs and break cycles of redevelopment and repopulation, managed retreat policies likely must de-commodify particularly vulnerable areas by taking them out of the market. Thus, to achieve the goals of managed retreat, buyback strategies or other retreat policies have designated, and must continue to designate, highly vulnerable lands as unavailable for future resale, habitation, or development.
Linda Shi, Cornell University (co-authors Andrew Varuzzo, Jennifer Minner)
Coastal adaptation entails a paradox well understood by electeds but as yet little examined by researchers. Common sense dictates we should avoid developing in low-lying areas or retreat out of harm’s way. Yet, local reliance on property taxes precludes limiting development, particularly for geographically constrained coastal communities. Furthermore, financing adaptation through tax increment financing, resilience bonds and fees, and increasing property taxes require continued development in vulnerable places. Like a Ponzi scheme, our land-based fiscal policy framework and fragmented local jurisdictions dictate that cities need to sustain – even expand – valuable coastal real estate development to fund current needs and future adaptation. Sustainable in the short-run under low levels of sea level rise, this approach becomes increasingly fraught with long-term, accelerating rates of rise. Although this dynamic is clearest where climate change directly affects property values, the conflict between fiscal imperatives for development and need to move people from climate-exposed geographies is similarly relevant for hazards like wildfires, drought, and heat waves.
Few studies, however, have examined how climate change will affect fiscal health and evaluated policy responses. This presentation will share recent research from Massachusetts that responds to this gap. By overlaying sea level rise maps with land use and tax data, we find that long-term sea level rise significantly reduces municipal revenues in a small subset of municipalities, including urban cities with commercial and industrial waterfronts and wealthier seaside suburbs. The unevenness of fiscal vulnerability and autonomous governance of coastal towns set up new competitive tendencies for development and exacerbate fiscal stress and spatial inequality. Through an ongoing workshop with planning students, we are now working with three coastal towns south of Boston to evaluate the tradeoffs among different land use planning options. Only a few islands of one town will remain at six feet of sea level rise, while the other two are comparatively unfazed. The workshop will consider the implications for land use development and fiscal policy over time under different scenarios, such as fortifying the vulnerable town with sea walls, densifying the town’s highest areas, reducing development by transferring development rights among neighbors, or merging towns and fostering integrated planning. We are especially interested in understanding path dependency, how tradeoffs change over time, and political openness to different options.
With this research, we hope to open dialogue on interactions between fiscal stress, local fragmentation, and spatial inequality. Attention towards fiscal policy, land use planning, and governance reforms with respect to climate adaptation has the potential to help cities make the “right” choices and redress long-standing drivers of vulnerability more broadly.
Marco Tedesco, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (co-authors G. Heal, R. Horton, S. McAlpine, J. Porter)
Investors in residential and commercial real estate as well as in infrastructure are potentially exposed to risks of flooding as a consequence of the reverberations of climate change. These risks are higher for stakeholders with properties close to the coast as well as for financial institutions that finance their purchases and hold their securities. Risks associated with sea level rise, flooding, inundation and other extreme events on financial and house markets have generally not been properly quantified and it is currently hard for investors to assess the risks that they now face, and will face in the future, from climate change. Obviously, this has high repercussions on adaptation and mitigation policies and strategies.
Only recently, more emphasis has been put on research (both from the public and private sectors) on these crucial aspects. One of the limiting factors is the difficulty in gauging the degree of a flood extent, either as events occur or in the past. Specialists often rely on river gauge stations readings, models, or for surveyors take manual, in-situ measurements. In this regard, satellites and aerial data provide multi-spectral high resolution spatial data that can be used to make assessments before, during, and after an event.
In this study, we present an overview of the current existing literature on the impact of floods and inundations on house properties and markets. We will discuss cutting edge results focusing on understanding how to quantify the past and present impact of floods on the house market and how to develop tools and methods that can allow us developing models that will allow future projections under different climate scenarios. Then, we show results of our analysis on the impact of Hurricane Florence on properties through the combination of model outputs, remote sensing tools, information on house properties obtained from multiple commercial sources.
Philip Orton, Stevens Institute of Technology (co-authors Fanglin Zhang, Craig Bond, Eric Sanderson, Kim Fisher)
Cities have relatively high property values and population densities, and as a result retreat from coastal flooding is often not considered an option. Likewise, after Hurricane Sandy New York City committed to a plan for protecting all its hundreds of kilometers of populated shoreline from flooding. Even when traditional benefit-cost analyses (BCAs) evaluate retreat, they typically conclude that it is a poor fiscal choice. Reasons include not factoring mortality risk into BCAs and not factoring in the potential value of non-protective ecosystem services from natural systems. However, not including these factors ignores sources of potential benefit that may be meaningful to the decision-making process, especially in high density urban areas.
Here, we evaluate the implicit hypothesis that natural ecosystem services and mortality risk are negligible factors in BCAs for urban shorelines. We evaluate a set of adaptation strategies for Jamaica Bay, New York City, a region with flooding problems from both extreme events and monthly tidal flooding for low-lying areas. Hydrodynamic modeling and HAZUS damage modeling are used with a probabilistic risk assessment and monetary BCA framework, to evaluate the fiscal benefits of adaptation strategies. Mortality risk is estimated based on modeled flood depth and velocity with an ensemble of mortality models. Non-protective ESs are evaluated using a combination of value transfer techniques and detailed estuary biogeochemical modeling.
The adaptation choices considered are “protection” with surge barriers at the bay’s inlet and raised shorelines, “retreat and restoration” of the estuary’s shorelines and interior, and a combined approach with a surge barrier for storm-driven floods and retreat for tidally-flooded areas. Preliminary results available at the time of this writing show that the high ecosystem service value of urban water quality regulation by a restored estuary landscape can have a significant influence on BCAs and resulting adaptation decisions.
Rachel Cleetus, Union of Concerned Scientists (co-authors Kristina Dahl, Erika Spanger-Siegfried, Shana Udvardy, and Astrid Caldas)
As sea levels rise, a rapidly growing number of U.S. coastal properties will experience frequent, disruptive flooding that makes everyday life impossible, drives down property values, and strains coastal real estate markets.
Using sea level rise and chronic inundation projections together with property data from Zillow, we find that more than 300,000 of today’s coastal homes and commercial properties in the contiguous United States, valued today at $136 billion, are at risk of disruptive flooding by 2045 with a high sea level rise scenario. By 2100 nearly 2.5 million residential and commercial properties, collectively valued at $1.07 trillion today, would be at risk. Our results show the number of coastal properties, their value and the value of the local tax base exposed, at the zip code level, and the numbers of exposed homes that are valued below the state median.
The implications of these risks are profound—for homeowners, communities, banks, lenders, investors, developers, insurers, taxpayers, and the wider economy—yet they are largely flying under the radar and even worsened by some short-sighted government policies and market incentives.
Hundreds of communities stand to face losses. Retreat, both physically and financially, will likely be necessary in some of the highest-risk places. Communicating this daunting prospect is crucial. But as the market begins to price the risk, that could trigger decisions—such as raising insurance premiums, or downgrading credit—leading to big, painful, outcomes. Many smaller and marginalized communities could be left financially stranded.
We have a dwindling window of opportunity to meet these threats and, where possible, head them off. To use this time wisely we need localized risk modeling; more complete information on the potential costs and limits of adapting in place; well-resourced planning and options for retreat and new opportunities on safer ground; and governance structures designed to support decision-making and foster equitable outcomes.
Belinda Storey, Victoria University of Wellington (co-author Cuong Nguyen)
After the Christchurch earthquake of 2011, the New Zealand government declared about 8000 homes as ‘Red Zoned’, and paid for a managed retreat for about 20,000 people by offering the owners to buy them out (voluntarily). The take-up rate for the offer was about 98%. Using this example, we develop a model that explains who may end up paying for managed retreat programs, and identify several potential payers and payees. The model is arranged around two dimensions, the degree of public interest and ethical commitment to the affected area, and the nature of the risk the area is exposed to. With this framework, we analyse various examples of managed retreat programs in high-income and low-income countries, and point to alternative set-up arrangements that can reduce the pressure on taxpayers to pay for these programs.
(Session 5C) Decision Making on Retreat [Room 104/106]
Ayse Karanci, University of Florida
The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of sea level rise (SLR), storm intensity, and soft-engineered coastal protection projects on household occupation/abandonment decisions. The interaction between human decisions and morphological conditions of the coast are linked in an integrated community viability decision support system. To inform management decisions, researchers have developed tools such as Beach-fx, which evaluates both economic and physical consequences of coastal protection measures, but does not address the coupled evolution of engineered landscapes and human behavior. There are models that employ human-nature coupling but do not model morphological change.
Using agent-based modelling (ABM), this study establishes a bottom-up analytical framework that links natural and social systems. It simulates the effects of storms, SLR and soft coastal protection measures on the morphological landscape as well as social decisions based on community attractiveness. The ABM encompasses three submodels:
– Physical environment submodel: accounts for the morphological features in a coastal community.
– Household submodel: employs three types of heterogeneous agents: “homeowners”, “homebuyers”, and ”house sellers” to mimic individuals decisions to buy/sell property. Their decisions depend on community attractiveness, which is a function of expenses (protection costs, flooding damage and insurance), flood risk perception, community size and amenities.
– Management submodel: simulates decision process to undertake a protection measure and implementation of the project.
Coastal communities face increasing risk from accelerated SLR and storms. Understanding the long-term dynamics of protection decisions is important for creating effective adaptation policies. The frequency and intensity of storm events can change a coastal town’s occupation dynamics and introduce the possibility of community decline. In this study, the developed ABM model will be used to investigate the coupled effect of SLR and storms on occupation/abandonment dynamics at Town of Nags Head by performing 50-year length simulations with different incoming storm patterns.
Justin Kozak, Center for Planning Excellence
Coastal Louisiana has long been home to the some of the highest rates of relative sea level rise and land loss in the world, and continued sea level rise and more intense hurricanes will further challenge the state. Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) was created to address the state’s land loss and flood risk using established best practices and lessons learned from around the world. However, there is a growing realization that reducing flood risk and restoring wetlands is not sufficient to address the full scope of the challenge. The impacts of climate change are affecting the state’s economy, culture, health and environment, yet the state’s efforts have focused on physical and infrastructural engineering implemented by one agency.
Recognizing the need for a more comprehensive approach, CPEX hosted the Rising Above Symposium to connect coastal community leaders and state agency decision makers with national and international experts on climate change and community adaptation to engage in a process of visioning, strategizing and prioritizing. Each participating community emphasized the need for improved coordination with the state to inform their decision-making and support efforts at the local level.
In response to these findings, CPEX worked with the state governor’s office to organize a State Agency Resilience Building Workshop that convened the heads of every state agency in Louisiana for a 2-day workshop. We established the relevance of the coastal crisis to the mission of each state agency, the need for all agencies to build the capacity to integrate land loss and climate change into existing planning processes, and the need to institutionalize coordination across agencies and scales to facilitate a comprehensive approach to land loss and climate change based on shared goals, shared information, and leveraged resources. This talk will share the tools and processes used, the results of the workshop, and the priority next steps to continue moving towards a more resilient future.
Jory Hecht, University of Vermont (co-author Paul H. Kirshen)
We evaluate the tradeoffs between permanent retreat and other local adaptation options for homeowners in a stylized community inspired by Exeter, New Hampshire, where increases in river flooding projected for the 21st century follow different trajectories. These local adaptation options include both community-scale interventions, such as flood barriers, and household-scale measures, such as first-floor elevation, wet floodproofing and property insurance. We consider three different types of single-family housing: (i) two-story homes with half-basements, (ii) one-story homes with half-basements and (iii) manufactured (mobile) homes without basements. We examine the sensitivity of retreat decisions to (i) buyout incentives, (ii) property tax rates, including betterment taxes for community adaptation projects, (iii) flexibly designed flood barriers, and (iv) household insurance policies with adaptation incentives under different budget constraints. We identify circumstances under which policies with well-intentioned adaptation incentives may protect owners of some home types while forcing others to retreat.
One particularly contentious aspect of climate change planning is identifying the scenario(s) upon which to base multi-stage adaptation schedules. When facing future flood hazards that are deeply uncertain, i.e. multiple scenarios with unknown probabilities, decision-makers often employ robustness measures to identify adaptation portfolios that do not result in over-investment or catastrophic damage. Our parsimonious mixed integer-linear programming (MILP) optimization model makes recommendations using a minimax regret criterion with multiple climate change scenarios to recommend optimal multi-period adaptation portfolios as well as alternative ‘near-optimal’ ones. While this model evaluates portfolios from a community perspective, constraints ensure that homeowners retreat when they face excessive adaptation costs and/or damages. Finally, we discuss alternative robustness criteria as well as strategies for applying this model in other hydrologic and sociopolitical settings, including coastal communities.
Lynnette Widder, Columbia University
In response to the property value crisis precipitated by the Great Depression, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was founded in 1933-34, ostensibly to safeguard home values by objectively mapping the factors that might impact the viability of any urban neighborhood: building stock, annual income levels, terrain, occupation and infrastructure. But the FHA’s criteria also codified racism and nationalism. “Infiltration” by non-white and non-American populations was included in the evaluations, systemically excluding neighbors whose populations were predominately immigrant and non-white from access to financial instruments, investment and – as Ta-Nehisi Coates has argued in ‘The Case for Reparations’ (The Atlantic, June 2014) – all manner of social and economic empowerment. Red shading on FHA maps designated those neighborhoods in the practice known as “redlining.”
Some twenty-five years after the FHA began its mapping, in the late 1950s, urban renewal policies were developed to address the urban “ills” through massive reconfiguration and relocations. Although its proximate motivations may have been socially progressive, urban renewal inscribed the implications of “red-lining” into the city’s fabric. In the process, massive populations were moved, neighborhoods disrupted and the paths, patterns and proximities that had historically held people together eradicated. This enormous undertaking required collaboration between public and private sector to mobilize research, legislation, capital, and social services. Measured by the extent of change enacted, urban renewal was enormously successful; but in terms of its implications for people, neighborhoods, equity and the health of cities, the program was disastrous.
The massive urban reconfiguration that underlies managed retreat begs comparison to the project of urban renewal for both its failures and its successes. Considering the political and financial mechanisms, metrics and development models used in urban renewal in New York City as a case study, this paper will indicate what lessons might be learned for managed retreat in urban areas.
Malgosia Madajewicz, Columbia University
Increasing frequency and intensity of coastal flooding is affecting many densely populated sections of coastline around the world. New York City (NYC) is a leader in planning and implementing adaptations. However, even the large public investments planned in NYC will not protect populations in all coastal neighborhoods. At the same time, only a small percentage of residents have begun to take adaptation actions at the individual or community scales. Some of the obstacles include lack of understanding among residents of the future flood risks, available adaptation options and their benefits and costs, as well as constrained resources.
This study develops information that residents need to make educated decisions about adaptation options, which include relocation, retrofitting homes, changes in land use around the home and in the community, and financial planning. The study uses unique primary data that document the cost of the recovery from Hurricane Sandy for residents of the Rockaways and the south eastern shore of Staten Island in NYC to estimate future costs of flooding to households in those neighborhoods in the absence of adaptation actions. The study compares the costs of inaction to the costs of several adaptation strategies, including relocation, elevating the home, and modest retrofit actions such as raising electric utilities.
The main contributions are the focus on decision-making by residents of coastal neighborhoods and data on costs that residents are likely to face in the absence of adaptation. Other studies value likely damages to real estate from future flooding. However, real estate values are different from costs that residents incur. Our data document that more than 80% of residents rebuilt their homes after Sandy as they were before, therefore the recovery costs provide a good estimate of costs due to future flooding. We will discuss the applicability of the results beyond the study area.
Kanako Iuchi, Tohoku University and John Mutter, Columbia University
Relocating communities inland is one of the major initiatives in regions affected by large-scale coastal disasters. There are several reasons for this. First, devastation raises awareness in all levels of government as well as affected communities of minimizing possible losses from future catastrophes. Second, as disasters disrupt coastal zone slums, governments see this as an opportunity for urban improvement. Similarly, residents may view this as an opportunity to improve their living environment. Third, affected regions receive a fast-paced flow of resources via enormous national and international support, and encourage governments to entertain development which would otherwise be difficult. As yet, efforts to relocate from coastal areas often result in different outcomes, and both scholarly research and praxis have minimally explored this issue longitudinally.
This research examines the Leyte Region of the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan. It focuses on the decision-making process to relocate away and from the coast and the resultant outcomes that are different from the initial intent. While the original plan was to relocate 14,000 coastal families from Tacloban City inland, residences continue to occupy the coast 5 years later. We examine how key stakeholders – identified as the national government, local government, and coastal communities – made decisions on and implemented the relocation plan, and how these actions transformed over time. We find that key stakeholders’ decisions were largely made within horizontal cross-ties at the national, local, and community level; whereas there is little indication that decisions were made within the vertical cross-ties. As a result, a newly developed city-centered organizational structure to promote the plan was disrupted by national level decisions, which further decreased coastal communities’ motivation to relocate, and increased continued settlement along the coast.
12:30pm: Lunch [Lobby]
1:30pm: Breakout Session 6
(Session 6A) Beyond to Stay or Move: The How and Why of Some Communities’ Decision-Making [Room 105]
Moderator: Nathan Jessee, Temple University
Historied communities and tribes in coastal Louisiana are facing nearly twice the global rate of relative sea-level rise—primarily due to manipulation of waterways, fossil fuel extraction and industrial development, and atmospheric climate change. Anthropogenic climate change is not the first threat these groups have faced and is not experienced in isolation from legacies of extraction and exclusion. Environmental changes and encroachment upon ancestral lands by industry and outside settlers have transformed homelands to small fragments of where those groups have lived and thrived for centuries. Additionally, the coastal and bayou tribes and communities are building upon generations of knowledge, decision-making, observing, testing, monitoring, and experiencing that have enabled adaptation. Now they face a spectrum of decisions on how to adapt to continue lifeways for generations into the future. It has always been a priority of Tribal and historied communities to maintain the ‘continuity of community’ in spite of the changes and challenges forced upon them by outside interests—interests served by ‘right of might’ legislation by those believing that they knew better how to make use of ancestral lands and resources and laying claim to both by ‘eminent domain’ claims, and in the name of ‘the greater good’. Such manipulation and so-called ‘management’ where potential life-altering decisions concerning how communities move into their futures, are not being made by or with community members themselves. The historied and first citizens of this land maintain their rights to self-determination in the midst of these challenges and the strategies developed to address them. In this virtual panel session, community organizers and tribal leaders from coastal Louisiana will discuss how and why their communities are taking adaptive actions, be it adapting in place or resettling to a new location, and all of the nuances in between this spectrum of decision-making.
• Chief Albert Naquin, Isle de Jean Charles Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe
• Chief Shirell Parfait-Dardar, Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe
• Council Person Christine Verdin, Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe
• Elder Rosina Philippe, Grand Bayou Village, Atakapa-Ishak/Chawasha
• Reverend Tyrone Edwards, Zion Travelers Baptist Church
• Theresa Dardar, Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe
Other panel collaborators:
• Dr. Julie Maldonado, Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN) and Rising Voices
• Dr. Shirley Laska, Professor Emerita in Sociology University of New Orleans and Lowlander Center
• Dr. Kristina Peterson, Lowlander Center
(Session 6B) Infrastructure at Risk [Room 104/106]
Elizabeth English, University of Waterloo
Amphibious housing presents intriguing possibilities in the quest for sustainable responses to the impending global climate change crisis. Suitable new housing types are needed for populated regions where sea level rise and heightened storm activity are expected to intensify flooding. Amphibious foundation systems refer to new or retrofit construction that allows a house to remain close to the ground with the appearance of an ordinary house, but to rise with rising floodwater and float on the surface until the flood recedes, at which time it settles back into exactly its original position. This is a highly innovative approach to flood mitigation that is in initial stages of technical development. While this strategy is not universally applicable, it has great potential to benefit vulnerable populations that currently face the difficult choice between leaving their traditional homelands and livelihoods or living with the disruption, devastation and trauma that severe unmitigated flooding and subsequent lengthy evacuations or displacement can have on their communities.
In environmentally sensitive locations, amphibious construction suggests how to sit lightly on the land and live WITH the flooding when it occurs. Amphibious strategies accept the presence of floodwater but prevent it from causing significant damage to housing. Amphibious architecture works in synchrony with natural cycles of flooding, allowing water to flow where it will rather than attempting to control it. Since the height to which an amphibious building rises is in response to the depth of the water, amphibious structures can take both changing sea levels and land subsidence in stride, up to a point. As part of a strategy for managed retreat, an amphibious approach increases flexibility. The difficult decision of when to relocate becomes a choice rather than being triggered by a sudden catastrophic event and the destruction, loss and trauma that accompany it.
Frances Bui, CDM Smith (co-authors Lauren Klonsky, P.E. (CDM Smith); Gil Hilario (Town of Marion, MA))
A coastal community with 33-miles of shoreline along Buzzards Bay, Marion, Massachusetts has strong ties to the coastline, town beaches, and marine activities that are highly valued by residents. Approximately 40-percent of the Town is located in a flood zone. The Town could very well see over 10-feet of sea level rise by 2100. In 2018, Marion became a certified Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Community by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The program provides assistance for municipalities to identify its vulnerabilities related to climate change, and to help determine adaptation measures. A notable vulnerability in Marion is the pumping stations that are located near the coast, where rising sea levels can have a significant impact to an area already susceptible to coastal flooding.
To improve its resiliency, first an understanding of the pumping station network and its service level was achieved. This was followed by a qualitative vulnerability assessment of each pumping station. The stress, sensitivities, and adaptive capacity of the eight pumping stations were evaluated to determine their respective vulnerabilities. The risk of the pumping stations was determined by considering the impact and consequence of coastal flood damage and the likelihood of it occurring. Consequences can include detrimental impacts to the town’s economy, health and safety of its residents, cultural and historic elements, and ecological and environmental resources.
Coastal flood risks to wastewater infrastructure are not unique to Marion — these flood risks challenge many communities along the coast. With projected sea level rise increasing the flood risks for most coastlines across the United States, the challenges of maintaining infrastructure through coastal floods and increased sea levels will continue. This project serves as a model of thoughtful community engagement in climate change discussions paving the way for the development of a detailed assessment and path forward for improving coastal wastewater resiliency.
Roderick Scott, Ducky Johnson Home Elevation, LLC
We are living in a historic era of a changing climate and sea level rise. Storms are becoming more frequent and more intense. These changes are reflected in rapidly increasing premium rates for flood and wind insurance. The estimated 3 million pre-flood map high flood risk buildings in the US flood zones, many designated historic, hold enormous value and produce the revenues that fund our schools, government operations and pay back the bonding for resilience projects. 20 years from now these buildings will be worthless due to un-affordable insurance premiums and increasing natural hazards risks. In addition we are faced with a rising sea that will inundate large areas of our urbanized coastal land in the US. There are tens of millions of buildings in the path of the rising sea. Humans must have buildings to live and work in, but they can’t stay on the ground or near the sea. The US has a multi generational experienced structural elevation and relocation industry ready to meet the demands of mitigating our buildings. We will not leave all of these buildings behind as the sea comes in. If we plan it right we can relocate millions of them for re-use. This will create thousands of good construction jobs and save millions of cubic feet of solid waste from landfills and or destroyed at the shore by the rising sea. The planning must begin now so that we are ready to start as the sea creates un-livable conditions. This session will overview the structural industry history in the US and its capabilities. The session will also review previous community re-locations for flood mitigation and finally a set of proposals to start the discussions about how to relocate communities buildings in relocation scenarios.
Sarah Newkirk, The Nature Conservancy (co-authors Molly Loughney Melius, Sarah Reiter)
The state of California continues to act as a pioneer when it comes to American climate change initiatives, in both the mitigation and adaptation spheres. However, even in California, discussions of how (or whether) to implement managed retreat or “undevelopment” at the coastline are in their infancy. For example, the Coastal Commission—the state agency charged with protecting the coast—is marginalized when it comes to influencing the removal of critical infrastructure away from the shore. While state law is well-equipped to restrict new development and to protect existing habitat in the coastal zone, it is not designed to address undevelopment in the face of rising seas where former habitat could be restored in place of old and failing development. Coastal power plants represent an excellent opportunity for this type of undevelopment. California state regulations, which require the phase out of once-through-cooling technology used in many coastal power plants, provide the occasion to rethink whether power plants should be sited along the coast. There are many co-benefits associated with the removal of power plants from the coastline: reducing the vulnerability of energy infrastructure to impacts associated with climate change, increasing coastal habitat, all while maintaining the reliability of the power grid through generation capacity development elsewhere.
Nevertheless, there are some legal barriers that need to be addressed so that the Coastal Commission can move critical infrastructure away from an ever-changing coast. This talk will discuss potential solutions to these legal hurdles in California, and the applicability of this evaluation in other state legal frameworks.
Dylan McNamara, University of North Carolina Wilmington
In many coastal regions, human interactions and natural processes are strongly coupled. The nonlinear nature of this coupling, along with dissipation in both the natural and economic systems, dynamically constrains the system to evolve toward a state that is a subset of its possible configurations, termed an attractor. The current U.S. east coast attractor can be qualitatively characterized by human manipulated erosion rates, dense populations, immobile infrastructure, high property values, and the occurrence of large, infrequent catastrophes. With increasing rates of sea level rise and the eventual inundation of the existing built environment, the human-occupied coastal attractor is destined to become unstable. Said simply, it is an unfortunate truth that many existing coastal communities will become abandoned. While the end point for many locations is abandonment, there is virtually nothing known about how these dynamics will unfold in space or time as the system becomes unstable. I will present results from a numerical model of coastal property value that was designed to explore various scenarios of the dynamical evolution toward abandonment. I will initially discuss the technique of attractor reconstruction and how this was used to empirically validate the model with qualified sales data from 1989-2015 for single family homes in census tracks along the U.S east coast. The model will then be described and investigated for dynamical insight into coastal abandonment. This type of quantitative dynamical analysis of the nonlinear human-coastal system is critical to inform society of the possibility of looming catastrophic change in the human-occupied coastal system.
(Session 6C) Experience with Buyouts [Room 107]
Kevin Loughran, Rice University (co-authors James R. Elliott, S. Wright Kennedy)
This study examines the social and spatial pathways opened up via government buyouts of flood-prone residential properties. Using the case of federally funded buyouts – increasingly the dominant strategy of flood hazard mitigation in the time of climate change – we investigate not only where buyouts take place, but where people relocate after receiving public funds for their home. We offer the concept of “adaptive mobility” – defined as local moves undertaken via government policies explicitly deployed and funded to reduce future vulnerability to climate-related hazards – to demarcate such moves from the wider flows of residential mobility that are always in motion at the local level. Drawing on the case of Houston/Harris County, Texas, site of more than 3000 federal buyouts between 2000 and 2017, we find that individuals who take buyouts (1) make predominantly local moves to (2) whiter and (3) more economically advantaged areas; (4) additionally, when adaptive movers are able to satisfy these racial and socioeconomic conditions, they will resettle in areas that have also been home to buyout sites, indicating how social factors influence adaptive mobility decisions even in the face of a government program that aims to remove people and property from flood zones.
Jared Enriquez, Cornell University
Many scientists and policymakers believe that large-scale residential relocation is necessary to adapt to the complex challenges of flooding and climate change. Federal exhaustion from multiple disaster events and revanchist politics have led many cities and metropolitan areas to exercise greater autonomy over recovery efforts, ultimately converging disaster recovery goals with progressive local policy agendas for climate adaptation. Ultimately, local government practitioners rely on federal buyout policies to fund and implement the non-structural mitigation solution of flooding-based relocations. There are two primary federal programs that fund buyouts, FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HGMP) and HUD’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery program (CDBG-DR). Each program requires distinct eligibility criteria. This paper analyzes how cities utilize federal flood buyout policies to territorialize climate adaptation in an era of widening economic marginalization and local autonomy. Through discussion of multiple cases of buyout sites in the State of New York, I argue that both federal policies’ eligibility criteria paradoxically incentivize and discourage households that are undergoing processes of marginalization. Spatially-determined constraints encourage inclusion of vulnerable homeowners, while valuation-based elements of the programs discourage participation. Drawing from field work completed for my dissertation, including interviews with planners, spatial data, and a review of policy documents, I argue that hazard mitigation and fiscal divestment drive decisions for retreat. The small-scale of pilot communities for which retreat has already began suggests that the scale in which buyouts are pursued would be insufficient to provide a substantive buffer from severe weather events for urbanized regions. I conclude with recommendations on ways that local planners can expand the reach of property acquisitions as a method of climate resilience for neighborhoods seeking retreat and not divestment.
Lily Verdone, The Nature Conservancy in Texas
Using post-Hurricane Harvey damage assessments for Harris County, Texas, we created a strategic approach to voluntary property buyouts that prioritizes clustering buyout properties considering their proximity to open spaces as well as additional environmental and social benefits. Our results show that prioritizing buyouts is cost effective and creates green spaces that add multiple values. This study provides a roadmap for buyout selection that can enhance open space, reduce flood risk, and create more natural amenities for residents to enjoy. In Houston and across coastal and flood-impacted regions nationwide, it can help leaders develop strategic buyout programs that create safer, more resilient communities.
Peter Mattingly, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
In late October of 2012, Superstorm Sandy coursed through the Eastern seaboard with heavy winds, torrential downpour, and devastating storm surges. After generating about $70 billion in damages, Sandy ranks as one of the costliest American hurricanes. The concern over storms like Sandy, sea-level rise, and climate change is the millions of vulnerable people living in areas that continue or will soon be impacted to such hazards. To mitigate the substantial property damages endured from this and future natural disasters, policymakers seek a fiscally-sustainable strategy that protects communities, improves property market values, and reduces the amount cyclically invested towards recovery and infrastructure.
In 2013, the New Jersey Blue Acres Buyout Offer (BABO) program and the New York Buyout and Acquisition Program (BAP) began to formally acquire and purchase storm-related damaged properties from voluntary homeowners living in susceptible floodplains. After offering the homeowners the fair market value for their property, the program acquires the property and the previous homeowners relocate. Overtime, these programs around the country are expected to facilitate floodplain and similar forms of retreat; however, little research has examined the effect of these programs on the real estate markets on areas in proximity to buyout areas and within these areas themselves.
Although these programs provide a promising hazard-mitigation strategy by promoting retreat and sustainability, further quantitative analysis on how these programs impact different kinds of municipalities is necessary. In addition to my analysis on market value trends before and after Sandy between buyout and non-buyout areas, further assessment will examine neighborhood effects and potential gentrification trends in relation to buyout areas. This being the first ever quantitative evaluation assessing the real estate of voluntary buyout programs, the projected results could serve to provide a new understanding of this field from unexplored, spatial-econometric terrain.
(Session 6D) Non-Coastal Retreat issues [Room 102B]
Radley Horton, Columbia University
Paula Puskarova, University of Economics in Bratislava (co-authors Mikulas Cernota, Jan Slivinsky)
The concept of climate tipping points has shown that slow onset climate change requires new adaptation management for coastal and other climate vulnerable zones. The case of massive forest diebacks in Slovakia teaches us how the management setup intertwines with abrupt nonlinear changes in the ecosystem accompanied by massive spillover effects and human retreat from affected areas. The results of the study challenge the management setup pursued in Slovakia after the accession to the European Union and lends support to radical changes in the Smith-alike laissez-faire approach to forest management in favor of more intervention-based Keynesian-alike policies respecting unique local facets of the ecosystem and society. The paper is in particular devoted to mapping of the spillover effects and human retreat from the affected areas and highlights deficiencies in the management of these flows.
Claudia Tomateo, Urban Systems Lab – The New School
Looking down from the Andes, the fog begins to dissipate and you can slowly descry a narrow, yet rich coastal plane. The Peruvian desert smoothly expands over rivers, valleys, cities and the ocean. Sometimes the coast unfolds gently into the horizon, other times, the relationship is more abrupt with cliffs dropping off into the sea. These varied geographical features set the base for an incredible range of infrastructural pieces, which during pre-hispanic times (900 BC – 1100 AC) acted as a network, together creating a performative coastal desert – mitigating landslides, managing stormwater and preventing rivers to overflow.
The Peruvian coastal desert runs a total length of 1555 miles. Covering only 10% of the country’s territory, it holds more than 50% of the entire population. Although the coast represents one of the driest landscapes in the country, it faces intense flood events on a cyclical basis as a consequence of El Niño. Dating back to the Holocene, the infamous El Niño southern oscillation is a climatic phenomenon and it is attributed to variations in the temperature of ocean surface, bringing heavy rains and floods and historically leading to tragedies of plagues and water/food shortages. In February 2017 alone, the country marked 158 flood related deaths and the displacement of 1372 people. However, this event is responsible for another effect in the desert. Water collected from intense flooding makes the land fertile for certain produce like corn beans and squash, transforming the desert into a resilient resource.
Evident in records and ruins from pre-hispanic civilizations that inhabited the desert such as Paracas, Mochica, Chimú, Nazca, Tiahuanaco, Lambayeque and Cupisnique, an extensive variety of agricultural techniques designed for various ecological zones and climate patterns also served (and in some cases continue to serve) as a water management network, able to mitigate possible flooding events. In the floods of February 2017 a pre-hispanic aqueduct acted as a dam in the area of Pampa de Mocán (La Libertad), protecting the adjacent town from flooding and redirecting the water to the non-urbanized desert.
This study aims to compile a comprehensive view of the pre-hispanic resilient agricultural infrastructures along the entire coast of Peru through mapping visualization, with the goal of understanding the rich network of planning and performance at a regional scale. Seen collectively, each individual intervention could be understood and analyzed in the context of a larger constellation of infrastructure, functioning both as flood mitigation and crop irrigation. This research would seek to map the impacts of El niño today, with the ultimate hope of unveiling potential opportunities for the rehabilitation of ancient infrastructure or the development of new strategies.
Lisa Dale, Columbia University
3:00pm: Coffee Break [Lobby]
3:30pm: Breakout Session 7
(Session 7A) Experience with Buyouts, Continued [Room 105]
Anamaria Bukvic, Virginia Tech
The adoption of relocation as an acceptable adaptation strategy in coastal communities will in part depend on the effective financial and policy mechanisms to support it. This presentation will take a critical look at the existing mechanisms to assist relocation from areas exposed to coastal hazards, including the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other local and state programs. It will further discuss the innovative policy and market mechanisms that may be deployed to incentivize the gradual voluntary relocation of residents from flood prone locations. The presentation will then focus on the strengths and weaknesses of each approach in the context of Hampton Roads, Virginia, and discuss the opportunities for innovation on a local scale, such as new policies that discourage development in high-risk areas and encourage gradual transition to higher ground via elevation based zoning, transfer of development rights, or outright donation of land to jurisdictions. The Hampton Roads area is at the forefront of adaptation to sea level rise and episodic flooding, with localities having different perspective on the possibility of relocation shaped by their contextual circumstances and long-term development objectives. The cookie-cutter approach to relocation will not be viable in this highly urbanized and interconnected area with diverse cultural, historical, political, and socioeconomic profile. This presentation will examine the role of these contextual factors in the selection of optimal support mechanisms for relocation and the key knowledge gaps and data needs that should be addressed prior to the inclusion of relocation planning into portfolio of resilience strategies across Hampton Roads municipalities.
Deborah Morris, New York City Housing Preservation and Development
Residential property acquisition, in particular Buyouts, are frequently discussed as a potential solution for local governments facing flood risk. New York City’s Build it Back Acquisition and Buyout program, funded through CDBG-DR, is an exampled of voluntary acquisitions to facilitate storm recovery. This presentation will review the structure of the Acquisition and Buyout program, pricing structure, and outcomes.
It will highlight the challenges of physical retreat planning using the example of the city’s property-swap program in Edgemere, a community in the Rockaways, which became part of neighborhood planning initiative. The Resilient Edgemere Initiative paired New York City’s recovery programming with New York City’s only physical retreat plan. I will review the challenges of buyouts and property swaps initiative, from a regulatory compliance perspective and pragmatic perspective. Frequently undiscussed issues, like mortgage transfers and ownership and debt structures that preclude public property purchases will be reviewed, as well as pricing structures.
I will conclude with policy recommendations for property swaps to become a real possibility within the limited existing policy tools. In particular, detailed guidance on mortgage transfer and debt recovery, so that people can be made house whole in order to move on. I will also touch on the subject of vertical buyouts, in order to help with the adaptation of multi-family buildings, in relation to the debt and regulatory structures common to financing affordable housing.
Shanasia Sylman, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Houston, Texas, one of many cities affected by Hurricane Harvey, is faced with the challenge of managing its rapid growth and increased risk to flooding in a context of comparatively minimal land-use regulations. In the wake of Harvey, a prominent public debate on the increasing interest in and use of buyouts as part of Houston’s recovery continues to grow. A case study of Houston, TX post-Harvey structured through site analysis and interviews with residents, professionals engaged with flood management issues and an elected official reveals a storm of Harvey’s magnitude has made it necessary for the city to consider buyouts on a much larger scale than current programming can manage.
The challenge of making flood mitigation strategies like buyouts, or acquisitions more broadly, part of a larger local initiatives is embedded in a long-standing issue within the practice of planning to integrate hazard mitigation into local land use planning. However, as extreme weather events become more frequent and intense, it is crucial for local planning professionals to actively incorporate hazard mitigation strategies into the forward-thinking planning process, guiding development to areas of less risk. A review of precedent cities that attempted to pursue acquisition programs in conjunction with local planning initiatives exemplify the importance of using local land use planning tools to create alternative mechanisms that can better facilitate the land acquisition process. These examples then shape a recommendation for the City of Houston to craft its own comprehensive acquisition program as well as provoke the practice of planning to further engage in the process of unbuilding the built environment.
Sherri Binder, BrokoppBinder Research & Consulting (co-authors Alex Greer, Charlene K Baker, John P Barile)
Home buyout programs have been used in the US for over 40 years to relocate people and property out of high-risk areas, with large-scale buyouts implemented after Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, and Matthew, among others. Though buyouts are intended to reduce vulnerability and mitigate against future disasters, empirical research on their impacts and efficacy remains extremely limited. Buyout programs are designed and implemented independently by local implementing agencies, with few opportunities for formal learning or knowledge sharing. These gaps call the continued use of buyouts as mitigation policy tools into question. This presentation addresses these challenges, drawing on empirical, mixed methods studies conducted by the authors on buyout programs over the past seven years. Using Hurricane Sandy as a case study, we explore how households’ experience of a buyout, including their progression through the relocation process, is influenced by programmatic and policy decisions made by key government stakeholders. We then examine the impacts of buyouts over time by comparing recovery indicators across households that participated in a buyout and non-participating households. Findings suggest that place-based ties and social networks that would typically help individuals cope with disaster impacts and persevere through adversity may be diminished for buyout participants, ultimately hindering their recovery. Three years after Hurricane Sandy, buyout participants are faring worse than households that rebuilt in place on measures of place attachment and social capital, suggesting that buyouts have social and psychological costs that extend well into the recovery period. We conclude by presenting a series of policy recommendations grounded in our research conducted to date, including historical analyses of past home buyout programs and extensive data collection with government agency personnel and buyout program participants after Hurricanes Sandy and Harvey, considering implications for climate-induced relocations and recommendations for improving buyout outcomes.
Carolien Kraan, Stanford University
Managed retreat from flood-prone areas is an increasingly important adaptation option for reducing risks to people and assets. Learning from experiences to date, such as the long-running property buyout programs in the United States, is essential for informing future deployment. Since 1989, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has funded voluntary buyouts of over 40,000 flood-prone properties, with the land subsequently maintained as open space. Here, we analyze where buyouts have occurred with respect to flood risk, socioeconomics and demographics, and local capacity. The evaluation is attuned to adaptation effectiveness and equity. Buyouts have taken place in almost every U.S. state, yet approximately half are concentrated in fewer than 10 states and in program years 1989–1998. The number of bought-out properties in a single county ranges from 1 to 2190 (median=11), implemented through 1–55 grant projects (median=2). As measured by disaster declarations, property damage, and flood hazard, buyouts have been concentrated in more flood-prone areas, and bought-out properties are largely single-family homes and primary residences. Results suggest that capacity of local governments has enabled participation in the FEMA buyout programs, yet bought-out properties are concentrated in areas of greater social vulnerability, pointing to the importance of assessing the equity of buyout implementation and outcomes. Deployment of buyouts has been more likely in counties with higher population and income, contrasting model-based analyses of managed retreat under increasing sea level rise. Opportunities for improvements arise, such as more consistent project reporting, which could catalyze learning in the policy process through time.
(Session 7B) Communication Strategies & Public Engagement [Room 102A]
Collyn Chan and Kelly Main, MIT (co-authors Mario Giampieri, Kannan Thiruvengadam)
East Boston, or “Eastie”, is a coastal neighborhood faced with rising sea levels and intensifying development pressure. Despite the current demand for housing, ‘retreat’ from high risk areas will likely happen in East Boston in the future due to climate change impacts. This ‘retreat’ may be ‘managed,’ through targeted public policy, disaster response mechanisms, or planning interventions for strategic abandonment, or ‘unmanaged,’ through economic drivers such as insurance costs that increase housing insecurity and induce displacement of the current community. Taking the need for managed retreat as a viable policy and design option in the face of rising seas, this project developed a toolkit for engaging coastal communities on the topic of managed retreat and uses community input to inform long-term urban design and planning strategies while addressing housing security. The toolkit uses an interactive 3D model, a series of design charrettes, and augmented reality to give community members the opportunity to experiment with the physical and spatial consequences of adaptation strategies. Adaptation scenarios are further developed through engagement workshops that focus on pathways to implementation, as well as the costs and opportunities of such actions. More specifically, the project introduces land pooling, land readjustment, and community land trusts as methods that may allow residents to remain in their communities while adapting to climate change impacts. These methods require consensus building and understanding between residents to build community-wide assets, while retaining individual equity in land, housing and security. The results of the workshop series will be documented and shared as a set of best practices for engaging communities on managed retreat and the viability of the aforementioned strategies in facilitating retreat from vulnerable coastal areas in the United States and beyond.
David Eisenhauer, Rutgers University
Cascading environmental changes threaten social and ecological well-being in coastal regions across the globe; yet, policy and management actions have been insufficient to prevent dangerous climate impacts. In this paper, I develop the concept of ‘imaginative fit and interplay’ as a strategy for envisioning and enacting systemic and sustainable development changes in coastal regions, such as managed coastal retreat. I argue that more attention needs to be focused on how scientific narratives about the causes and consequences of climate change fit existing cultural senses of belonging and interplay with various political projects of becoming. Sense of belonging refers to how actors situate themselves within broader networks of people, material landscapes, values, beliefs, and narratives. Political projects of becoming, in turn, entail ongoing struggles to change the world for the better by altering prevailing norms, visions, and practices. I situate the concept of imaginative fit and interplay within recent scholarship that explores problems of ‘informational fit and interplay’ as well as ‘institutional fit and interplay’ in the contexts of coastal adaptation and resiliency decision-support and knowledge provisions. I argue that an important reason societal responses to projected coastal hazards and risks is that scientists and knowledge brokers have failed to directly engage with the imaginative register of how communities envision what is possible through technical and social means. By building off ongoing fieldwork in coastal New Jersey, I conclude that the design of climate change services and other forms of decision-support must engage with speculative and imaginative practices in order to facilitate socially just and ecologically sustainable transformation within precarious coastal landscapes.
Ellis Calvin, Regional Plan Association (co-authors Robert Freudenberg, Lucrecia Montemayor)
Long term adaptation to climate change, particularly involving managed retreat, can be an extremely difficult conversation for communities to have. As a result, the topic is largely avoided even as the existential threat of flooding from sea level rise and storms becomes increasingly manifest. Residents and business owners can be reluctant to discuss adaptation out of fear of losing property and assets, changing community character, and disinvestment, while local leaders would rather not face the loss of tax revenue and political backlash that could result from adaptation strategies that limit development or transition away from flood zones. Even when action is taken, the solutions may not be equitable, or economically or environmentally sustainable.
Against this backdrop, Regional Plan Association, in partnership with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, initiated work with two small suburban communities threatened by sea level rise, Mastic Beach, NY, and Sea Bright, NJ, to develop community-inspired visions for long term adaptation. Working closely with community leaders and through interactive community workshops, RPA developed a framework to help communities make informed decisions about long-term adaptation while reconciling necessary changes with what they value about their community. RPA developed a number of tools to accomplish this, including a “game” that allowed participants to plan out long-term adaptation strategies in the specific context of their community, keeping in mind timeline, costs, spatial considerations, and even how unexpected disruptions (e.g. loss of federal funds) might affect their plans, and “postcards from the future” exercises that helped participants envision the long-term. This planning process not only provided crucial information about the vast toolbox of long-term adaptation strategies and engaged community members and leaders who admitted to avoiding the subject, but also persuaded many initial supporters of “doubling down” scenarios to switch their support to scenarios of long-term, managed retreat.
Julia Peterson and Cameron Wake, University of New Hampshire
Joshua DeVincenzo, The Earth Institute, Columbia University (co-authors Jeremy Brooks MPH CPH, Thessa Roy BA, Jonathan Sury MPH CPH, Ashley Tseng BS, Thomas Chandler PhD, Irwin Redlener, MD)
In the aftermath of 9/11 the National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP), Earth Institute, Columbia University launched the American Preparedness Project to survey public perceptions on disaster preparedness. The report found that 65% of Americans expressed worry that climate change will impact their community’s exposure to disasters (NCDP, 2016). NCDP’s conclusory recommendation was that the impact of climate change on disasters should be better integrated into communications and preparedness programs, acknowledging that a comprehensive understanding of the concerns of individuals and families is critical to emergency planning efforts (NCDP, 2016). Today, NCDP deploys training programs in-person across the U.S. and online where the Center directly engages with the public on disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and resiliency. Leveraging these experiences, NCDP collects data to analyze the learning efficacy of communication methods of disaster focused curricula in relation to sea level rise. Although sea level rise is one of the more easily visualized of the various implications of climate change, there exist several discrepancies in US public opinion on the degree of urgency in which to prepare for the risk of climate change. Discrepancies are tied to a multitude of factors including partisan affinity, “wait and see” mentalities, and overconfidence bias (Cialdini, 2009). This presentation will provide data-driven recommendations derived from satisfaction surveys, pre and post-test scores, and belief statements from learners that have participated in NCDP’s course content on climate change. Recommendations will focus on risk communication strategies that can adequately address discrepancies, impact decision making and improve learner understanding of climate change. The solution is not simply providing more information but evaluating how to implement different delivery methods aligned with public learning needs and capacities. This user-centered designed approach was adopted by NCDP to create more informed risk communication and instructional decisions when administering preparedness programs.
(Session 7C) Legal Aspects of Managed Retreat [Room 107]
Ben France-Hudson, University of Otago (co-authors Emily Grace, Margaret Kilvington)
New Zealand has a long coast line, which is heavily developed in places and generally viewed as a desirable place to live. As a result of climate change, many communities are in the path of increasing natural hazard threats such as sea level rise, coastal erosion and flooding. Managed retreat of settlements away from natural hazard threats is gaining recognition as an inevitable (if not always popular) option to reduce risk to individuals, communities and address unsustainable infrastructure costs to local and central government. However, while it is supported by various planning tools, to date it has not been comprehensively advanced.
One possible explanation for the slow adoption of managed retreat as a policy are the legal, governance and social implications of attempting to introduce regulation to change existing land use in hazard areas. Local government agencies in New Zealand operate under legal and planning frameworks that were largely designed to address future development. Agencies are unclear as to their obligations, liabilities and options in situations which may result in large scale changes to existing patterns of development and interference with individual’s private property rights.
This paper will discuss the results of an interdisciplinary project undertaken by the authors, which focuses on the legal, planning and social implications of introducing regulation to manage existing land use in hazard areas. Insights on key themes will be shared including: an assessment of the capacity for New Zealand’s central piece of planning legislation (the Resource Management Act 1991) to accomplish managed retreat; observations regarding the conflict of responsibilities between different levels of local and central government; the role of different types of planning document; and the importance of general principles of common law, in particular the law of private property.
Overall, the authors will suggest that the New Zealand experience contains lessons of general application that may assist in developing best practice approaches to managed retreat globally.
Ben Orlove, Columbia University
Though sea level rise has been discussed for decades in the UNFCCC and the IPCC, these organizations have been slower to examine the impacts of sea level rise on specific coastal systems (cities, ecosystems, groundwater, etc.), and even slower to consider the range of responses by policy-makers and other actors. This presentations reviews (1) the agreements and other outcome documents of the annual Conferences of Parties of the UNFCCC and (2) the Assessment Reports and Special Reports of the IPCC to trace the evolution of the framing of coastal retreat, with particular attention to sea level rise, its impacts on specific systems, and the range of response options. Issues of spatial scale are particularly important, since there has been a shift in framing sea level rise primarily as a national issue (threatening the integrity of small island states) to including regional and local impacts, particularly in cities. Temporal scale is also important, since there has been a shift from focusing primarily on trends of sea level rise, in millimeters per year, to an attention on extreme events, particularly floods. In terms of response, the earlier focus on adaptation has expanded to include discussion of the limits to adaptation, particularly the issue of loss and damage.
Mark Davis, Tulane University (co-author Christopher Dalbom)
For years, the focus on sea level rise and climate change discussion was on whether those were real risks and how to avoid them. Those debates continue, but it is increasingly clear those risks are real and, up to a point, unavoidable. As a result, there is increased attention on how individuals, public agencies, businesses, and communities might adapt to the changes that are coming. At some level, this means retreat. In some places, this is already happening.
There is nothing new about retreating from a place in the face of a perceived risk. Similarly, there is nothing new about abandoning or moving communities to take advantage of an anticipated benefit. What is different is the comparative scale of the challenges and the options in the context of climate change and sea level rise. Is management at this scale even possible?
That reality has spawned a robust and growing public discussion that accepts that retreat will happen but seeks to manage it to optimize the public welfare. That is a good thing but managed retreat immediately raises several questions:
• Retreat from what?
• Retreat to where?
• Retreat when?
• Retreat as relocating individuals or as resettling communities?
• Who is left behind and who inherits the residual rights and burdens?
• Who is the manager?
• What is the management objective?
Answering these questions and others is important work that many planners, scientists, academics, and policy experts are focused on, but unless that work is grounded in an understanding of relevant state, federal and private law, the prospects for managed retreat producing outcomes to be proud of are poor. We propose to develop more fully those linkages, using experiences and examples of the benefits and limitations of managing for coastal change drawn from Louisiana, New Orleans, and the Gulf Coast over the past 50 years.
Carlos Martin, Urban Institute
There is no national program for managed retreat due to climate change’s effects yet, but there are examples of federal relocation policies that shed light on what can be done—and what should not be. This paper reviews the legal, policy, and program precedents for household and community relocation to suggest lessons for appropriate and equitable rules for managing retreat due to climate change’s effects.
First, four early relocation orders and programs are reviewed. The paper begins with the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act, the 1970 federal law establishing minimum standards for federally funded programs for acquisition of real estate and displacement of residents, which was enacted as part of a backlash to earlier municipal redevelopment programs that did not financially compensate relocated households nor assist in their relocation. Second, the legacy of Chicago’s late 1970s Gautreaux relocations that lead to the national Moving to Opportunity program in the 1990s jointly provide insight into the process and services for the relocating of, in this case, public housing residents to market-rate homes in areas of non-concentrated poverty. Third, the 1990s to 2010s public housing redevelopments funded by the HOPE VI and CHOICE programs provide a wealth of lessons regarding the logistics, funding, and social services associated with relocation as the programs learned from criticisms by returning and moved residents. Finally, the legal precedent set by the Supreme Court in 2005, Kelo v. City of New London, affirmed the right of the state to acquire non-blighted private property by eminent domain for a broad range of uses—thereby affirming mechanisms for forcing retreat with admonitions for managing it fairly.
These four precedents are then summarized and presented along with recent buyout programs funded by FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and HUD’s Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery.
Heather Payne, Seton Hall University School of Law (Shana Jones, Thomas Ruppert, Erin L. Deady, J. Scott Pippin, Ling-Yee Huang, and Jason M. Evans)
As they are responsible for the lion’s share of land use decision-making and infrastructure development in coastal communities in the United States, local governments will play a key role in climate adaptation — and they are facing hard questions about whether to build new infrastructure to adapt, continue maintaining existing infrastructure as is such as public roads or, in the instance of roads, for example, whether it is more cost-effective to abandon them. This presentation will discuss the findings of an interdisciplinary research project that consists of a regional analysis comparing how law both furthers and inhibits resilience planning and climate adaptation efforts across four South Atlantic states — Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Given that little legislative, policy, and funding has emanated from the federal government to support climate adaptation, local efforts — and the litigation that inevitably results in some instances — are establishing the framework for defining adaptation policy more broadly as well as influencing the contours of tort and land use law. Specifically, this presentation will discuss how differing duties and obligations at the state, county, and municipal level are likely to result in differing adaptation outcomes, making retreat likely to be highly inconsistent and difficult for local governments. While the presentation will primarily focus on roads, it will also draw insights from additional areas researched as a part of the project, including sewer infrastructure, septics, and historic properties.
(Session 7D) Protecting Wetland Migration Pathways [Room 102B]
The New York – New Jersey Harbor and Estuary Program (HEP) proposes an exploration of what it takes to protect wetland migration pathways; places where tidal wetlands are likely and able to move with sea-level rise. With sea level rise, these vulnerable ecosystems encounter the “coastal squeeze,” where urban land uses do not allow for the migration of wetlands, an ecological process that had occurred for thousands of years prior to human existence. Public policy protects and values the ecosystem services that tidal wetlands provide including coastal protection and flood reduction. However, discussions of coastal resilience and managed retreat have not typically prioritized the survival of wetlands.
HEP proposes to curate a moderated panel discussion on the status of this multi-faceted topic. We come to this position of literacy from having collaborated on and funded several research and policy efforts amongst stakeholders, managers and scientists in New York and New Jersey. The panel would consist of experts that can speak to specific aspects of the topic from a variety of perspectives, including: Spatial models and other tools for predicting wetland migration pathways; best practices for managing open space for migration; the status of the science of migration; identifying benefits of pathway protection; and how to talk to local communities and property owners about wetland pathways. Potential panelists include agency and non-profit natural resource managers and scientists. The moderated discussion would tease out the relationships between these topics leaving the participants with a broad overview of this important aspect of managed retreat and a case study addressing this issue from a highly urbanized ecosystem.
Robert Pirani is program director of the New York¬-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program at the Hudson River Foundation. HEP is a collaboration of government, scientists and the civic sector that helps protect and restore the Harbor’s waters and habitat. It is one of 28 such programs around the country authorized under the Clean Water Act. The Hudson River Foundation seeks to make science integral to decision-making with regard to the Hudson River and its watershed and to support competent stewardship of this extraordinary resource. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2014, Mr. Pirani was vice president for energy and environment at Regional Plan Association. While at RPA, he worked with HUD and others to undertake Rebuild by Design, an special initiative of the President’s Hurricane Sandy Task Force. He also coauthored several relevant studies including “Lessons from Sandy: Federal Policies to Build Climate-Resilient Coastal Regions”, (Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Focus Report, 2014); “Policy by Design: Promoting Resilience in Policy and Practice”, (Rebuild by Design, 2014); and “Building Coastal Resilience: Using Scenario Planning to Address Uncertainty and Change”, (RPA, 2013). Mr. Pirani holds a Masters Degree in Regional Planning from Cornell University and BA in Environmental Studies from Hampshire College.
Dr. Chris Field is a postdoctoral fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) at the University of Maryland. He studies the effects of sea-level rise on coastal communities and ecosystems, especially tidal marshes, from an interdisciplinary perspective. He studied conservation planning and extinction risk for tidal marsh birds for his dissertation research at University of Connecticut. Much of his past and present research has been inspired by his previous experience working as a conservation practitioner at a national nonprofit.
Isabelle Stinnette is the Restoration Manager at the New York – New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program, where she runs the inter-agency restoration work group, tracks restoration progress in NJ and NY, and works with partner agencies to further restoration progress. Prior to joining HEP in January 2017, she worked for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) as a Restoration Biologist where she aided restoration planning through research and mapping, and worked with conservation organizations to make use of small grants for restoration. She also worked on expediting storm recovery and resiliency projects. Isabelle has a M.S. from the School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at Stony brook University and a B.A. in environmental studies and writing from St. Lawrence University.
Marit Larson, Chief of Natural Resource at NYC Parks’ Division of Forestry, Horticulture and Natural Resources, is an environmental scientist with a background in stream and wetlands restoration. She has over 25 years of experience managing wetland restoration design, protection, and monitoring projects. At NYC Parks, She oversees teams conducting forest and wetlands restoration, native plant propagation, natural resource stewardship, green infrastructure design and construction, and the monitoring, assessment and management of over 10,000 acres of natural areas in New York City.
Sacha Spector is Program Director for the Environment at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, where he oversees all environmental and conservation grantmaking. Previously he has served as director of conservation science at Scenic Hudson, manager of the invertebrate conservation program at the American Museum of Natural History (where he is a visiting scientist) and was the Terrestrial Invertebrate Red List Authority for the IUCN Species Survival Commission. He has earned numerous awards, and has authored or coauthored over 30 research papers, books, and articles. He earned his Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Connecticut and his B.S. in environmental biology from Yale.