Thursday, June 20
Location: Jerome Greene Hall, 435 West 116th Street, first floor
8:30am: Check-in and Coffee [Lobby]
9:00am: Opening Session [Room 104/106]
Welcome by Alex de Sherbinin, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), The Earth Institute, Columbia University
- Why are we talking about retreat? Katharine Mach, Senior Research Scientist, Stanford University Woods Institute for the Environment
- Relocation is More Than a New Address, Shavonne Smith, Shinnecock Environmental Department, and Chenae Bullock, Moskehtu Consulting
- Reimagining Our Coasts: Toward a Transformative Research, Collaborative Learning and Action Agenda, Susanne Moser, Susanne Moser Research & Consulting, and Richard Moss, American Meteorological Society
Discussion moderated by Andrew Revkin
10:30am: Poster Session and Coffee [Lobby]
11:00am: Breakout Session 1
(Session 1A) Environmental Justice and Equity [Room 107]
Alice Kaswan, University of San Francisco School of Law
While much attention has focused on the implications of climate change for coastal communities, less attention has focused on the impact of retreat on receiving communities: the communities that will house, feed, educate, and employ the millions who are expected to retreat from the coast and other flood-prone areas. Climate-induced migration is likely to occur in response to abrupt climate events, like hurricanes, as well as in response to slow-onset impacts, like tidal flooding.
Finding new homes will challenge both the migrants themselves and the communities they join. The challenges are likely to be particularly acute for poor migrants of color, who face fewer options due to shortages of affordable housing (intensified by migration itself) as well as lingering discrimination. In addition, the challenges in receiving communities are likely to be greatest for existing disadvantaged communities, who may experience gentrification and, depending upon the socioeconomic characteristics of the migrants, the dilution of municipal services.
Based on data and analysis collected by geographer Matthew Hauer, this presentation will discuss predicted patterns of climate-induced migration. It will then lay out a research agenda for addressing impacts on receiving communities. Additional modeling of the socioeconomic characteristics of predicted migrants is needed to anticipate the socioeconomic implications of migration. Moreover, site-specific assessment of urban policy conditions and needs will be necessary to adequately plan for predicted migration. Lastly, planners and land use professionals should assess the laws and policies that could best address the range of socioeconomic and environmental challenges receiving communities and their new residents are likely to confront.
AR Siders, Harvard University
Managed retreat, the purposeful relocation of vulnerable communities, has been growing in popularity as a long-term strategy for reducing exposure to sea level rise and coastal hazards. However, retreat has significant short-term financial and social costs, through reduction of local tax base and disruption of communities, and programs must be designed with equity principles in mind. Numerous retreat programs have been successfully implemented in the U.S. through federally-funded property acquisition programs. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has funded acquisition in over 1,100 communities in 44 states over the last 20 years. And yet, it is not clear whether these efforts have effectively reduced community risk and federal insurance risk exposure, or whether risk has merely been displaced to neighboring floodplains. Nor is it clear that the people relocated have benefitted, or where they have relocated to, or how land acquired has been used. Questions also abound about how local governments decided where to retreat. How were decisions made about which communities to relocate? What are the potential social equity ramifications of these decisions? And how can we improve these criteria? This study reviewed documented case studies of managed retreat and federally-funded buyout programs to identify participant selection criteria and to explore the social equity effects of these criteria. Recommendations are made for future selection criteria to maximize risk exposure reduction and social equity.
Idowu Ajibade, Portland State University
The retreat of urban population as an adaptation strategy has the potential to protect people, businesses, and infrastructure from the severe impacts of climate change. However, it can also lead to unjust dislocation of the urban poor whose contributions to climate change are negligible but whose exposure to climatic risk is high. These groups of people also have little say in decision-making about whether to retreat or not, thus raising questions about equity and justice. In this paper, I examine the policy and practice of managed retreat and its environmental justice dimensions in Manila (Philippines) and Lagos (Nigeria) from 2010-2018. Expert and residents’ interviews, focus group discussions, and policy documents, were collected and analyzed for both cities. Findings reveal a complex picture of contradictions. In Lagos, retreat was expressly stated in climate change policy but practices show that only the urban poor are forcibly removed from waterfront areas while new urban development projects are being built in these same areas. In Manila, retreat was not mentioned in policy but evidence indicates informal settlers and national government offices are the target of managed retreat. Unlike Lagos, the urban poor in Manila were incentivized and offered a mortgaged-pathway to homeownership outside the city. However, the lack of livelihood opportunities in relocation sites engendered a cycle of retreat and return. This study further discusses how climatic uncertainties, environmental injustices, government distrust, seasonal changes, and socio-nature paradoxes, serve as barriers to managed retreat. In conclusion, the paper calls for environmentally and socially just approaches to retreat plans, arguing that the rights of the urban poor to the city must be taken into consideration even under complex climatic and socio-ecological disruptions.
Robin Bronen, Alaska Institute for Justice
This session focuses on the work of an interdisciplinary team of fifteen Alaska Native coastal communities, geophysical and climate scientists, lawyers and state and federal government agencies to address coastal retreat and relocation. This work includes the design and implementation of community-based environmental-social monitoring methodologies, such as erosion and permafrost thaw monitoring, to inform multiple levels of institutional governance about environmental change, its impact on community health and well-being and its use as a mechanism to determine the point in time when relocation or managed retreat needs to begin. The right to self-determination is the foundation upon which this work is being implemented. Through this work we are co-producing knowledge, facilitating adaptation workshops and informing policy makers on the research-informed solutions to implementing coastal adaptation strategies. The identification of a new environmental hazard, usteq (Yup’ik word meaning land collapse caused by the combination of thawing permafrost, erosion and flooding) to be included in the Alaska Hazard Mitigation Plan is an example of our work’s success. This session will showcase how the co-production of knowledge at multiple levels of governance can lead to policy-level changes to support community-based adaptation, including relocation.
(Session 1B) Post-Disaster Buyout Programs: Insights for Adaptation Planning in the New York Region [Room 104/106]
This panel session will convene experts on buyout programs in New York City and the Greater New York Region as a panel and will explore how buyouts can pave the way for long-term land use transition in low-lying coastal areas. The panel will include discussion of topics such as community buy-in, program design, land stewardship, long-term planning, and governance.
Moderator: Lauren Wang, Senior Policy Advisor, NYC Mayor’s Office of Resiliency
As Chief Policy and Research Officer for the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, Jane Brogan plays an integral role in implementing Housing, Small Business, Infrastructure, Community Reconstruction and Rebuild by Design programs.
Established in June 2013, GOSR coordinates Statewide recovery efforts for Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee and invests $4.5 billion from HUD’s CDBG-DR Program to better prepare New York for future extreme weather events. In her role, Ms. Brogan oversees the Policy and Research and Strategic Analysis departments, which jointly formulate and evaluate the implications of policy, conduct research, perform analysis, and compile data and reports. Additionally, she advises on the proper utilization of the funding to ensure that applicable policy and federal requirements are met.
Before joining GOSR in 2015, Ms. Brogan was the Unit Head – Program and Policy at the NYC Office of Management and Budget implementing Sandy recovery programs in NYC. Prior to that she was the Planning Project Manager at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, charged with rebuilding and revitalizing lower Manhattan after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
She is a graduate of University of Sydney with a master’s degree in Environmental Science and earned a BA from Colgate University.
Fawn McGee has been with the Green Acres Program since 1995, and became Chief of the State Land Acquisition Program in 2004. In this capacity, Ms. McGee has direct responsibility over the budget and negotiations to purchase lands for NJDEP Divisions of Park & Forestry and Fish & Wildlife. On an annual basis, there are approximately 400 active negotiations pending. In addition, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, she operationalized and continues to direct the State Blue Acres Buyout Program, which purchases flood-prone properties from homeowners at pre-storm value; these structures are then demolished and the land is restored for conservation and flood mitigation purposes. Ms. McGee and her team have secured more than $300 million in federal funding enabling the Blue Acres program to assist approximately 970 families in harm’s way since May 2013. In 2019, Blue Acres purchased the 600th property from a homeowner and has now demolished 600 structures.
Deborah Helaine Morris is the Executive Director of Resiliency Policy, Planning, and Acquisitions at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Deborah advises the agency on the physical and financial risks facing existing affordable housing, develops standards for new affordable housing in waterfront communities, and collaborates on long-term planning initiatives, including the Resilient Edgemere Neighborhood Initiative, which developed a vision for a Rockaways waterfront community facing sea level rise risks. Deborah received a master in City Planning and Urban Design from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of the Arts from the University of Michigan.
Dave Tobias received master’s from Yale, during which period he received fellowships from NASA and the Tropical Resources Institute. In 1989 he joined The Nature Conservancy where he worked on landscape-level conservation projects in the US and abroad before joining NYC in 1996 as director of the emerging Land Acquisition Program, a cornerstone of the City’s watershed protection effort. Since then he and his staff of 15 real estate professionals and numerous partner organizations have secured over 150,000 acres – including more than 50,000 acres in conservation easements – throughout the City’s 2,000-square-mile upstate watershed. The programming has evolved into a half-dozen initiatives totaling over $700 million, including the flood buyout programs to be discussed here.
(Session 1C) Exposure Modeling [Room 105]
Robert Kopp, Rutgers University (Co-authors Michael Oppenheimer, Daniel Gilford, D.J. Rasmussen)
Over the next three decades, estimates of the probability of different levels of sea-level rise are relatively well defined, with little sensitivity to emissions and relatively minor differences among methodologies. In many regions, one of the major drivers of uncertainty on these timescales is the separation of natural regional atmosphere/ocean variability from long-term changes associated with human-caused emissions. Beyond the next three decades, however, sensitivity to emissions is much larger; and for high-emissions futures in particular, there is considerable disagreement among methodologies and expert assessments in how high sea levels may rise. This deeper uncertainty is driven primarily by the current, limited understanding of the response of the Antarctic ice sheet to climate change and may profoundly affect judgements regarding the relative benefits of retreat and protection over the course of the next century.
Tom Herrington, Monmouth University
Tidal flooding is among the most evident impact of global sea level rise (SLR). Studies conducted in the last half decade have determined SLR has led to an increase in the frequency of nuisance flooding in coastal communities due to the reducing gap between local high tide datum and ground elevations. As sea levels continue to rise concerns exists as to when more substantive impacts from tidal flooding will regularly occur. In this study, the historic water level observations at the NOAA tide gauges at the Battery and Kings Point are used to evaluate the present frequency and severity of tidal flooding in New York City communities. Using the most probably ranges of local SLR projections based on central estimates of the low-, medium- and high-emissions scenarios reported in the NYC Panel on Climate Change 2015 report (Horton et al., 2015), a determination of the frequency and extent of future flooding is generated. Results from similar analyses (Herrington, 2018) indicate that water elevations presently exceed the minor flood threshold level of 0.5m above Mean Higher High Water during 24 tides per year and that under the low SLR projection water levels in 2050 and 2100 will exceed minor flooding on 80 and 288 high tides per year, respectively. It is concluded that along the Mid-Atlantic there is a short window of 20 to 30 years within which coastal communities can prepare for the onset of chronic tidal flooding.
Vivien Gornitz, Columbia University (Co-authors Philip Orton, Malgosia Madajewicz, and David C. Major)
New York City (NYC) faces increasing risks to sea level rise (SLR) and coastal flooding. Frequent flooding from both major storm surges and monthly high tides already affects several low-elevation city neighborhoods, including Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, and Old Howard Beach, within and surrounding Jamaica Bay in Queens. These high-risk neighborhoods may be among the first forced to retreat under worst case SLR scenarios.
NYC’s mean 20th century sea level rise (SLR) of 2.8 mm/yr exceeds the global mean trend (~1.2-1.9 mm/yr). Major historic hurricanes and Superstorm Sandy have caused extensive coastal flooding. The New York Panel City on Climate Change (NPCC, 2015) projected a SLR of 0.56 to 1.27 m (25th-75th percentile) and 1.91 m (90th percentile) by 2100 relative to 2000-2004. A 1.9 m SLR would increase the likelihood of the present 100-year storm surge (1% chance/yr) to 12.7%/yr by the 2080s. However, recent land ice losses, improved ocean-atmosphere-ice modeling, and potential West Antarctic Ice Sheet destabilization suggest a higher than previously anticipated SLR by 2100. A new NPCC low probability, upper-bound scenario for NYC (ARIM), incorporating these findings, projects a SLR of 2.06 m by the 2080s and 2.9 m by 2100. Under the latter scenario, Broad Channel would experience daily flooding and even localized permanent inundation.
NYC stands at the forefront of implementing adaptation measures based on the latest climate and adaptation research. Nevertheless, investment in adaptation by residents of neighborhoods like Broad Channel remains necessary. Yet they often lack awareness of the true flood risk, costs of adaptation relative to benefits, and have limited resources. The capacity to overcome these hurdles will determine the ability of Broad Channel to adjust to gradual SLR, or to the possibility of an extreme SLR scenario, leading to cost-prohibitive future protections and an unavoidable disruptive relocation.
Lena Reimann, Kiel University (Co-authors Bryan Jones, Athanasios T. Vafeidis)
Accelerating sea-level rise (SLR) in the course of the 21st century will result in population migration, a large part of which will take place within national borders. However, societies will adapt to the impacts of SLR, which will influence migration patterns. In this study, we explore the effect of three distinct adaptation strategies – 1) ‘build with nature’, 2) ‘hold the line’, 3) ‘do nothing’ – on spatial population change. We develop assumptions for each adaptation strategy which include, for example, the orientation and efficiency of adaptation policies (e.g. sustainable versus engineered), the characteristics of different adaptation strategies (e.g. managed retreat versus protection), and the locations where these strategies are implemented. We interpret these assumptions to account for decreasing or increasing attractiveness of coastal locations for human settlement due to the adaptation strategies pursued and due to the impacts of SLR (i.e. permanent inundation and flooding due to extreme sea levels) in locations where no adaptation takes place. We implement our assumptions in a spatial population model calibrated to the Mediterranean region, which is a socioeconomically diverse region with different degrees of adaptive capacity and a high concentration of population in the immediate coastal zone. Using a range of socioeconomic and SLR scenarios based on the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) and Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs), we produce spatial population projections from 2010 to 2100. Our results allow for estimating the number of people that may migrate due to SLR depending on the adaptation strategy pursued. We observe that adaptation may influence spatial population change considerably, with effects extending well beyond the coast. This study provides valuable insights into uncertainty regarding societal adaptation to SLR and, consequently, how SLR may influence spatial population change until the end of this century.
Kees Lokman, University of British Columbia
Climate change is arguably the greatest challenge facing contemporary societies. The effects of sea level rise, hotter/drier summers, warmer/wetter winters, and increased frequency of extreme weather events will have far-reaching impacts on coastal communities, including people’s livelihoods, critical infrastructures and ecosystems. At the same time, sea level rise provides an opportunity to envision new ways of living with coastal dynamics. In this context, the Fraser River Delta provides a perfect case study. Situated along the Cascadia fault line, and home to a rapidly growing population of nearly 3 million people, the region is in urgent need of comprehensive approaches to coastal resilience.
This paper highlights initial outcomes of an ongoing project involving a collaboration between academics, student researchers, design professionals, local experts and decision-makers. Key research questions include: How can visualization assist in raising awareness about climate change risks? Which coastal communities and critical habitats in the Fraser River Delta are vulnerable to sea level rise? And, what are the potential impacts of flooding on critical infrastructures? By applying geospatial analysis, visualization and systems thinking, the research shows the implications of sea level rise on key issues in the region, such as urban growth, logistics, intertidal habitats, food security. It also reveals opportunities and limitations for coastal adaptation when considering current local, provincial and federal regulations, policies and zoning guidelines. In doing so, this project aims to offer new tools, knowledge and insights to support policymakers, scientists, planners, engineers, and designers in analyzing, visualizing and re-imagining a resilient delta.
(Session 1D) International Perspectives [Room 102B]
John Sutter, CNN
Balakrishnan Balachandran, University of Illinois and Urbana Champaign (Co-author Robert Olshansky)
Planning and implementation of managed retreat is an emerging area of work and the anticipated scale at which it will be needed is totally unprecedented. However, there is considerable global experience of disaster-induced displacement and relocation that can inform efforts to meet this challenge. In 2016 alone, according to the Global Report on Internal Displacement, 24.2 million people were displaced by disasters worldwide, with China, Philippines and India accounting for well over half the displaced population. In the United States alone, over a million people were displaced. Most people displaced by disaster are confronted by the question of returning or relocating. The manner in which this question is addressed varies considerably based on the specifics of the context, but there are definite patterns to the dynamics of disaster-induced relocation.
This paper uses a framework consisting of four elements related to stages in the process of relocation (Natural science; Risk decision; Community’s relationship to place; and Relocation process) and two crosscutting themes (Political and historical context; and Issues related to land) to explain how planning process interact with the dynamics of relocating households and communities impacted by disasters. The framework is elaborated using the details of three cases that the authors have personally researched and been professionally involved in, including the lead author’s ongoing doctoral research in the coastal communities of South Louisiana. This explanation is backed up by analysis and synthesis of information from literature pertaining to about fifty cases of disaster-induced relocation from across the world, including additional cases that the authors are familiar with through their own work or through their extended network. The paper then extracts key insights from the research carried out so far that may be relevant and useful to emerging work in the area of planning for managed retreat.
Sandy Bisaro, Global Climate Forum, Germany
This presentation draws on a recent OECD publication, which examines how countries are adapting to sea level rise. Informed by an analysis of the future costs of sea-level rise, a review of current national adaptation planning practices in OECD countries as well as in-depth case studies, the report outlines the policy tools that national governments use to encourage an efficient, effective and equitable response to ongoing coastal change. Specifically, the report reviews OECD countries’ adaptation plans, finding that the implementation of measures to support adaptation to sea-level rise is generally at an early stage, and that while many countries are increasing investments in information services, there has been less action in considering regulation, economic instruments, funding, and operational monitoring evaluation frameworks, for concrete measures, such as managed retreat. Two case studies (Canada, Germany) provide in-depth examples of the challenges and success factors of coastal adaptation strategies in different governance contexts. In Truro, Canada, a project to realign a section of the North Onslow dyke demonstrates the importance of meeting multiple goals, i.e. reducing dyke maintenance costs, enhancing protection of public and private infrastructure, and enhancing resilience to climate change through the restoration of a coastal flood plain, for successful managed realignment. In Germany, devolved planning and fiscal authority has given rise to barriers to coastal adaptation, while, for managed realignment, federal state-led schemes have been more prominent. Drawing on these case studies, this report puts forward four principles of a policy framework for successful coastal to be considered by national governments as they further develop their adaptation plans. These are: engage stakeholders early and substantively; plan for the future and prevent lock-in to unsustainable pathways; align actors’ responsibilities, resources and incentives; explicitly consider distributional and equity implications of policies.
Ted Serrant, Houston ISD/University of the West Indies Open Campus
Small island developing states (SIDS), like Dominica, are unique sites for understanding coastal exposure to and management of natural disasters like hurricanes. Dominica is located in the Eastern Caribbean. It is 289 square miles and is considered one of the most rugged countries in the world with mountains rising over 4,000 feet. Dominica is also considered one of the world’s most vulnerable countries. It has a 10 percent chance of being brushed or hit directly by a hurricane every year, which poses a four – prong threat to the island – hurricane force winds, sea surges, floods, and slope failures. Over 90 percent of Dominica’s population live along the narrow coastal range and river valleys making them vulnerable to these threats. Evacuation is not an option. The increased incidence of hurricanes in Dominica including Hurricane Maria, which made landfall on Dominica as a Category 5 in 2017 had devastating effects, more than 60 fatalities, and losses of over 200 percent of the country’s GDP. The result has been a shift from a reactionary to an anticipatory approach to disaster management and a focus on resilience and adaptation. Using an adapted approach to state of emergency declaration, strategic location of equipment ahead of hurricanes, improvement in building standards and codes, community-based approaches to disaster management, and the recent adoption of a climate resilience policy, Dominica may be at the forefront of climate change adaptation and disaster management.
Margaret Arnold, World Bank
12:30pm: Lunch [Lobby]
1:30pm: Breakout Session 2
(Session 2A): Coastal Adaptation in California [Room 104/106]
The panel brings together five, diverse actors who work on climate change adaptation planning and implementation along California’s coast, including issues surrounding managed retreat. The panel highlights lessons learned about sea level rise adaptation, emphasizing the planning, regulatory, political, scientific and other lessons by federal, state, local, academic and NGO actors. These five adaptation actors from academia, nongovernmental organizations, federal agencies, state government and local municipalities regularly play a role in defining, designing, and implementing adaptation work. This panel will focus on how these unique actors work independently and in concert to grapple with coastal adaptation planning, especially sea level rise.
Alyssa Mann, The Nature Conservancy (Co-authors Walter Heady, Sarah Newkirk)
Sea level rise will significantly alter the California coastline as we know it. The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with the California State Coastal Conservancy, recently completed Conserving California Coastal Habitats: A Legacy and a Future with Sea Level Rise, the first California-statewide, comprehensive assessment of the vulnerability of habitats, imperiled species, and conservation lands to sea level rise. The study found that 59% of coastal habitat area is highly vulnerable to losses, including habitats that provide critical benefits to people like protection from storms and sea level rise. The study also lays out a spatially explicit action map of 6 strategies that can be deployed now to conserve these valuable habitats in the face of sea level rise. While we need to maintain existing resilient habitat and open space as well as invest in conserving habitats resilient to sea level rise (two strategies mapped in the assessment), it is clear that we will also need to invest in retreating vulnerable human infrastructure and adapting built environment features that are projected to be exposed to sea level rise. Whether adapting infrastructure in place or retreating, we identify the important role this plays in maintaining a healthy coast and the benefits it provides to people. Retreat not only gets endangered infrastructure out of harm’s way, thereby protecting people, but also provides needed space for natural infrastructure which in return provides heightened resilience to remaining human assets. We will discuss our results from the Coastal Conservation Assessment, our efforts and successes in mobilizing a statewide coalition committed to maintaining our coastal habitats in the face of sea level rise, and how retreat is a critical strategy, along with protection and accommodation, if we are to maintain what is so special about the California coast.
Charles Lester, University of California, Santa Barbara
My presentation, titled “Advancing State Interests in Coastal Adaptation: Lessons from California,” will examine how state government can and has advanced adaption planning in California, identifying some of the legal, political and economic challenges to doing so, and drawing on examples from the California coastal management program.
Juliette Finzi-Hart, USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz
My presentation, titled, “Partnering to Bring Coastal Storm and Sea Level Rise to CA Coastal Communities,” will discuss the Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS)—and how CoSMos projects future conditions of potential coastal hazards from storm flooding, shoreline change, and cliff retreat due to a changing climate. I will discuss how CoSMos helps communities to identify both current and projected vulnerabilities of coastal storms, in combination with sea level rise. Juliette will conclude with “lessons learned” about USGS outreach efforts, which depended heavily on partnerships with all the actors on the panel.
Nick Sadrpour, University of Southern California (USC) Sea Grant
My presentation, titled, “Connecting Communities on the Urban Coast,” will discuss how this ‘academic boundary organization’ is helping build capacities across jurisdictions and bridge the gaps among various community, science and government stakeholders. Focusing on Los Angeles, Nick’s presentation will illustrate successes, lessons learned and future opportunities for adaptation planning with the hopes of providing insights that can be utilized by other coastal communities.
Stefanie Sekich-Quinn, Surfrider Foundation
My presentation, titled, “On the Ground: NGOs Advancing Coastal Adaptation,” will examine on-the-ground advocacy and community engagement efforts geared toward planning and implementing adaptation measures that ultimately build political support for ‘resilient communities’ and advance meaningful policy formulation. Stefanie will provide examples from across the nation and hone in on recommendations to improve how each sector can improve adaptation outcomes.
(Session 2B) Migration as Adaptation [Room 107]
Nora Schwaller, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Co-author Jordan Branham)
The effects of sea level rise and an increased propensity for major precipitation events caused by global climate change are expected to drive a dramatic reduction in the availability of habitable coastal land (Allen et al. 2018; R. A. McLeman 2011). However, there is little understanding of how changing risk exposure influences individual decisions to relocate or the thresholds at which these decisions are made (Black, Adger, and Arnell 2013; Bardsley and Hugo 2010). In this paper, we seek to understand how the interaction of different scales of hazard events impact population change over time. To do this, we focus on exposure and vulnerability to flooding events. These events can range from repetitive ‘nuisance’ flooding caused by light weather to storm surges and severe rainfall precipitated by major hurricanes.
We address this research question by examining how minor and major floods between 1990 and 2016 impacted population movements in North Carolina. Our study area is home to both coastal and riverine flood hazard areas, affording us the opportunity to tease out the marginal effects of flood vulnerability, exposure to disaster in the form of hurricanes, and the combination of these two factors on population change. Our initial findings suggest that populations have differential responses to environmental risks based on geography, particularly when compounded by joint exposure to both major and repetitive events. More specifically, while coastal communities have experienced significant population growth despite high levels of flood vulnerability, those subareas that are exposed to multiple disasters possess a negative relationship with population growth, suggesting that major disasters can act as focusing events that trigger population shifts (Birkland 1997). Comparatively, it appears that areas subjected to riverine-based flood risk are inclined to population loss in reaction to moderate risk, but less reactive to major events.
Susan Ekoh, SUNY ESF
Climate change poses increasing threats to communities globally. Coastal communities in developing countries are especially vulnerable to coastal flooding and sea level rise related to climate change. Population movements have been identified as a societal response strategy, adopted by individuals and communities, to climate change related threats. Using a mixed methods approach, through the administration of structured questionnaires, interviews and focus groups, this study explores perceptions of flood risk among coastal residents of Lagos, Nigeria. It also examines how perceived flood risks influence planned movement decisions, as it considers questions including: who can choose to move, where do they move and how is movement organized? Individuals are the primary unit of analysis, but with the understanding that individual choices have wider impacts on families and communities. Results of this study are especially useful for policy makers and stakeholders, in the design and implementation of managed retreat strategies for coastal communities at heightened vulnerability to extreme weather.
Sakib Imtiaz, Disaster Management Watch
Since 25 August, 2017, approximately 655,000 refugees settled in Bangladesh as of 11 December 2017. Most of these refugees are settled in Teknaf and Ukhiya sub-district under Cox’s Bazar. World’s largest and most densely populated refugee camp is also settled here. On the other hand, this is one of the most vulnerable regions of Bangladesh, already struggling to cope with the regular natural hazard and the impact of climate change.
A significant deforestation was observed in this region due to the rapid expansion of Rohingya settlements and their practice of cutting trees for firewood collection in cooking purpose. Degradation of a natural resource like forest increases the vulnerability of the host community to climate change and natural disaster. Also, Rohingya influx has potential impact on the local ecosystem such as land slide, biodiversity loss etc. This study aims to address the trend of forest cover change following the refugee influx and recommend policies in response to the crisis.
GIS and Satellite remote sensing technique were used to detect the deforestation occurred in surrounding areas of Rohingya settlements. This vegetation at the southern coast of Bangladesh plays a vital role in the climate change adaptation and mitigation process in the region. This study reveals a major loss of vegetation cover following the refugee influx. The satellite image analysis shows a drastic change in vegetation cover in the year 2017. This year, total vegetation cover decreased by 2099.34 Hectares. These changes are significant because this assessment was done just after 3.5 months of massive Rohingya influx. In 2018, vegetation cover decreased by 357.39 Hectares. If this trend continues, it will seriously threaten the resilience of the coastal community.
Ama Francis, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia University
Presentation Goal: Propose ways that the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) Free Movement of Persons Agreement can be retooled as a legal framework for addressing climate-induced cross-border migration from Caribbean coastal communities
The global community committed to increasing regular migration pathways for the 258 million people on the move, including climate migrants, by adopting the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly & Regular Migration (Global Compact) this past December. The Global Compact, an international co-operative framework on human mobility, recommends a suite of legal/policy tools that countries of destination can use to systematically address displacement due to slow and sudden onset natural events. This oral presentation proposes to take a deep dive into one type of legal framework that the Global Compact omitted—free movement of persons agreements. Free movement of persons agreements, like the Caribbean Community and Common Market’s (CARICOM) Free Movement of Skills Agreement and the European Union’s Free Movement of Workers typically grant the right to work and reside in any country within a regional group to support an integrated market. Using CARICOM’s Free Movement of Skills Agreement as an example, this oral presentation will demonstrate how free movement of persons frameworks can be retooled to address cross-border climate-induced migration, especially where ad hoc policy approaches have increased migrant vulnerability. Ultimately, the presentation will make the case that free movement of persons agreements should be integrated into the Global Compact, since such agreements are an important part of the global governance planning needed to account for cross-border climate migration. In so doing, this oral presentation will respond to At What Point Managed Retreat?’s call to identify what advances in governance and planning managed retreat requires.
Carlos Martin, Urban Institute
Climate migrants have existed within the United States for decades, including households who are displaced permanently by disasters. Yet, studies of U.S. climate migration, retreat, and relocation continue to focus on the vulnerability of starting places, the characteristics and motives of migrants, or the implementation of relocation programs alone. Migrant destinations, in contrast, are understudied.
Based on the historical record, the receiving communities also seem to be underprepared. Future receiving communities have few incentives to estimate, build capacity, and integrate newcomers—especially when addressing their own climate-related resource gaps. As migration increases along American coasts and in other geographies subject to extreme climate change effects, expanding the policy and program capacity of the likely receiving communities to take them in is a regional resilience imperative.
This paper explores three sites where climate migrants have relocated, are relocating, or will relocate: New Orleanians displaced by Hurricane Katrina in Houston, Texas; Puerto Rican victims of Hurricane Maria in Orlando, Florida; and Louisiana’s Isle de Jean Charles residents and their pending resettlement north. The paper describes the pre-migration conditions in the three receiving places in five areas: 1) local housing markets; 2) financial health services like literacy and debt counseling; 3) employment and economic development opportunities; 4) healthcare providers’ capacity; and 5) social and cultural facilities. The paper then narrates the public story of the reception given to the newcomers immediately after disaster (and typically when receiving communities are outwardly charitable and can receive state and national resources) through to the present time (as migrants become permanent members of their receiving communities and disaster-related assistance resources dwindle).
The capacity to serve climate migrants in their places of settlement is the missing half of the climate migration equation. This paper attempts to find patterns and possible lessons on how comparable receiving communities have fared.
(Session 2C) Exposure Modeling [Room 102B]
Temitope D. Timothy Oyedotun, University of Guyana (co-author Johnson-Bhola, L.)
Guyana’s coastal zone, as common with many other developing countries, remains most vulnerable to sea level rise because of its social, economic and geographic conditions and its limited ability to respond to this 21st Century phenomenon. Consequently, a better and comparable understanding of the risks posed by the coastline dynamics and the modification of coastal environment is vital for the sustainability of this south American country. This study, therefore, seeks to explain the destabilisation of the coastal zone of Guyana, caused by mangrove removal and the sea level rise. Data was obtained from remotely sensed images of the coastline and field evaluation. The rates of change results varied at different sections of the entire coastline. This study has shown that most of the Guyana coastal area continued to face shoreline erosion. The driving forces of the change were attributed to the natural forcing (sea level rise) and anthropogenic factors (e.g. sand mining and progressive depletion of mangrove forests). Anthropogenic interventions, such as the construction of breakwaters and mangrove rehabilitation and replanting were noticed to be responsible for some region-specific positive responses and adjustment to shoreline behaviour.
Peter Ruggiero, Oregon State University (co-authors John Bolte, Janan Evans-Wilent, Kai Parker, Katherine Serafin, Patrick Corcoran, Alexis Mills, Eva Lipiec)
Sea level rise, changing storminess patterns, and development have exposed coastal communities to chronic coastal change and flooding hazards and decision makers often lack tools for developing adaptive capacity to increase resilience. Through sustained engagement with coastal stakeholders in the Pacific Northwest, we are co-developing an alternative scenario modeling tool (Envision) to explore adaptation strategies for reducing vulnerability to coastal hazards based on a variety of drivers of change. Envision is a spatially explicit multi-agent platform supporting scenario-based planning to examine feedbacks between the coupled human and natural coastal system. Probabilistic simulations of extreme total water levels, long-term coastal change projections, and storm-induced beach and dune erosion allow us to capture the impacts of SLR, wave climate variability, and ENSO under a range of climate change scenarios. Additionally, we are exploring co-developed alternative futures related to policy decisions and socioeconomic trends. Co-developed policy scenarios include: ‘Status Quo’ (continuation of present day policies), ‘Hold the Line’ (policies that resist environmental change in order to preserve existing infrastructure and human activities), ‘Re-Align’ (policies, including managed retreat, that change human activities to suit the changing environment), and ‘Laissez-Faire’ (existing policies are relaxed such that protecting infrastructure takes precedent over the protection of coastal resources, public rights, etc.). We are quantifying the impact of both policy scenario narratives and climate change scenarios on a range of stakeholder defined metrics. Policies that move people and buildings away from coastal hazards (e.g., managed retreat) are most successful in protecting property from flooding impacts whereas policies that permit the construction of engineered backshore protection structures better protect property from erosion impacts. By quantifying uncertainty within the Envision framework, this work is helping to determine the relative impact of policy and management decisions on the resilience of coastal communities under a range of future climate scenarios.
Fanglin Zhang, Stevens Institute of Technology (co-author Philip Orton)
Sea-level rise will exacerbate flood risk by raising flood elevation and increasing the probability of overtopping of defenses. Our prior research on mortality risk during Hurricane Sandy on Staten Island showed that the probability of mortality can be strongly associated with water velocity, and that it was worsened by a protective berm that was overtopped. Staten Island’s East Shore makes a good example of low-lying coastal landfill neighborhoods (CLaNs) which in the US Northeast often have a long coastline length and narrow width. Flood risk-reduction for CLaNs frequently involves elevated barriers, in the form of berms, seawalls or levees.
Here we evaluate the hypothesis that an elevated berm fronting a CLaN provides flood mortality risk reduction, given a range of future increases in mean sea levels and storm surges. We test this hypothesis by simulating flood conditions using hydrodynamic flood modeling of an idealized low-lying neighborhood protected by different adaptation plans both for present-day and under different sea level rise scenarios. A simplified probabilistic risk framework where we simulate a range of events from monthly tidal floods to 10000-year storm-driven floods yields the main quantitative result – annualized mortality from floods. There are many published formulations for mortality as a function of physical flood conditions, so we feed an ensemble of these mortality models with the water characteristics output from the hydrodynamic modeling.
The vertical barrier adaptation strategy is compared with a control scenario where the only adaptation is assumed to be coastal retreat from areas that have monthly tidal flooding. One important preliminary finding is that vertical barriers might be a better adaptation choice if one only considers a relatively short time scale (e.g. 50 years), but coastal retreat provides better long-term mortality risk reduction.
Eric Larour, NASA/JPL (co-authors Erik Ivins, Surendra Adhikari, Lambert Caron, Nicole Schlegel, Helene Seroussi, Mathieu Morlighem)
Local sea level rise is a measure of several competing processes, such as the contribution of melting ice from polar ice sheets, short-term processes related to ocean and atmospheric circulation, vertical land motion, viscoelastic adjustment of the mantle and crust and intense storm flooding. Of all these components, polar ice sheets will contribute most in the near to long-term future. It is therefore paramount to understand how sensitive local sea level is to spatio-temporaly variable patterns of ice thickness in glaciated areas around the world.
Here, we propose a new tool to assess this sensitivity based on gradient fingerprint mapping (GFM). This method quantifies exactly the derivative dS/dH, where S is local sea level and H ice thickness around the world. This derivative can be used to compute local projections of sea level using the following approach: S = dS/dH * DH + deltaS, where dS/dH is the gradient fingerprint (as it relates to ice) and DH any projected change in ice thickness (be it from observations extrapolated in time, or semi-empirical approaches, or model-based projections). deltaS encompasses other time variable components (assumed of a lower order) described above. Using high-resolution GFM, urban planners can assess which glaciated areas around the world will be of relevance to sea level change at their specific location, and how to instantly transfer projections of polar ice sheet evolution into localized sea-level change projections, along with associated uncertainties.
This work was performed at the California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Cryosphere Science Program.
(Session 2D) Communication Strategies & Public Engagement [Room 105]
Virginia Hanusik, Metropolis Magazine
Founded on the deltaic plain of the Mississippi River, New Orleans has been described as the impossible, yet inevitable city because of its complex geography that tests the boundaries of human engineering. Hurricanes, floods, and sinking land have forced structural innovation and adaptation in the city and its surrounding coastal communities. As a result, a distinct sense of place has been perpetuated through the built environment.
South Louisiana is experiencing the effects of coastal erosion at a faster rate than almost anywhere in the world. In an attempt to combat the rapid sea-level rise, state policies mandate the elevation of homes below sea level, and, as a result of this and similar resiliency measures adopted, residents of these lowlands have had differing capacities to implement the forced structural changes.
Despite the uncertainty that rising seas and coastal erosion brings to region, there is hope found in the history of building practices and land migration patterns that are responses to environmental change.
This project examines the ongoing conflict between land and water, and the physical artifacts produced by the region’s shifting landscape. As we continue to feel the effects of global warming over the next 50 years, architecture and infrastructure will become the foundation for life along the Louisiana coast, and a critical exploration of this topic will allow for a deeper understanding around how societies will be able to adapt to climate change. By photographing the everyday visualization of climate change rather than during a disaster, this project seeks to engage the viewer in a dialogue around how we inhabit landscapes and how that will change in the future.
Susanne Moser, Susanne Moser Research & Consulting (co-authors Kristen A. Goodrich, James Arnott)
Many are stymied by the challenge of how to talk about and “message” retreat, an utterly unpleasant, even unthinkable possibility in the American mind, though likely a necessity. This communication challenge is maybe most pressing for coastal managers, extension/outreach staff and other professionals working with and in coastal communities and to-date have not been addressed satisfactorily. The communication challenge is rooted in, and further complicated by, underlying sociopolitical dynamics and local history, as well as people’s socioeconomic realities, attachments to place, and their emotional responses to an overwhelming, intractable, seemingly unstoppable problem.
This paper presents initial findings from a survey of coastal professionals and others working in “frontline” communities which is focused on assessing the growing demands on, pressures experienced by, and psychosocial support needs of coastal professionals. Survey participants simultaneously face a) severe climate change impacts themselves (given that they often live in the coastal communities they serve), while b) having the professional obligation (and desire) to support their communities as they are affected by climate change impacts and potentially face retreat. Initial survey findings suggest that there is – already in 2018/19, i.e., long before most of them have to support retreat or retreat themselves – sadness, fear, worry, and burn-out, albeit rarely spoken about in public. This has significant consequences for the ability of coastal professionals to serve their stakeholders effectively over the long haul.
These initial findings serve as motivation and baseline for a project currently mobilizing, aimed at developing support mechanisms for coastal/adaptation professionals, including peer support networks, training materials and resources, and shifts in organizational culture that embraces the psychosocial needs of their employees as equal to the common emphasis on technical skill-building and professional development.
Kristin Marcell, NYS DEC/Cornell Water Resources Institute (co-authors Bennett Brooks, Nava Tabak)
Hudson estuary riverfront communities are facing worsening flood risks and impacts from sea-level rise, riverine flooding and storm surge, and will be challenged to adapt in place as these trends continue. Led by a partnership of government and nonprofit organizations, four of these communities embarked on a year-long resilience planning process that included consideration of managed retreat. Each developed a plan with specific actions for adapting their waterfronts to increasing flood risk and are now taking action, including participation in a community Learning Network supported by the partnership. While all four have considered the option of strategic relocation to manage flood risk, the topic has been fraught and sometimes elicited acute negative reactions. With foundation funding, a team, led by the Consensus Building Institute (CBI), the DEC Hudson River Estuary Program, Scenic Hudson and Nechamen Consulting are exploring a new approach to this challenge in the Village of Piermont, NY, the smallest of the four communities. This approach recognizes that the concept of municipal investment in adaptation strategies, particularly strategic relocation, is difficult to discuss at a community scale without individual homeowner consideration of their personal options. CBI first began to push at this approach in summer 2017, holding “living room” conversations in four Piermont neighborhoods to understand how residents perceive their risk. This next phase looks to empower residents as informal leaders and facilitators in their own neighborhoods as an essential step in launching and sustaining the inevitably emotion-laden dialogues needed to truly understand and plan for long-term adaptation. It also allows for discussion of flood risk and decision thresholds at micro-scales to inform individual consideration of potential actions. This presentation will summarize the progress of Hudson Riverfront communities in implementing actions, with a focus on Piermont’s work to help individual homeowners in flood-risk areas plan for their future.
Clarisa Diaz, WNYC
This presentation will explore the role of public media in servicing climate research and community adaptation to flood risk. Two stories and projects, authored by Clarisa Diaz at WNYC will illustrate climate issues and public engagement approaches. The first is an evacuation map installation and co-design workshop with residents in Midland Beach of Staten Island. Derived from a story investigating NYC’s communication of storm risks post-Sandy, the project brought together those interviewed for the story from the city, Columbia’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society, design agencies and local organizations to brainstorm with residents about how to communicate and share resources before the next hurricane.
The second example will show a citizen science project derived from a story about how snow is changing, and depleting, in the Northeast region of the United States. In collaboration with Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, citizen science snow kits were developed to measure aspects of snow, from the shape of snowflakes to the depth of snowpack. Various trainings were co-facilitated with NYC schools, community gardens, and at the Earth Institute to build an awareness and culture of understanding global warming in a local way.
Caitlin Spence, Metropolitan Area Planning Council (co-author Anne Herbst)
Coastal municipalities face particular challenges when planning for climate change. Impacts are presented in timescales orders of magnitude longer than typical municipal plans, future climate is subject to multiple sources and forms uncertainty, and resources for analyzing location-specific climate risks are often limited. The last is a particular challenge in light of the fast-evolving science of ice sheet dynamics and climate-economy feedbacks. The Massachusetts Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program provides funding to cities and towns for climate resilience plans. We present a case study Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) planning process in Hull, a heavily developed peninsula south of Boston that is composed primarily of low-lying barrier beach. If the rate of sea level rise observed over the last thirty years continued indefinitely, half of Hull would be located in a 100-year flood zone by 2040. Under upper-tail scenarios with rapid West Antarctic Ice Sheet disintegration, more than half of Hull’s developed area would have a greater than 50% chance of flooding each year by 2065.
To support the MVP process, we developed risk communication displays tailored to Hull’s unique context. MAPC leveraged publicly available datasets to communicate the spatial impacts of sea level rise on municipal critical infrastructure, businesses, and residences and to contextualize flood hazard in terms of deeply uncertain sea level rise. Participants included town staff, elected officials and board members, local business groups, and community organizations. Participants met in a February 2019 workshop to identify risks to critical infrastructure, natural resources, and water supply; understand current and emerging social vulnerability; and vision routes to a resilient future. We discuss the outcome of the MVP workshop and the challenges of communicating complex, potentially existential risks in municipal planning.
3:00pm: Poster Session and Coffee [Lobby]
3:30pm: Breakout Session 3
(Session 3A) Climate Change and Population Mobility: Empirical Models and Policy Perspectives [Room 102A]
David Wrathall, Oregon State University
Sara Curran, University of Washington
Co-authors: Elizabeth Fussell (Brown University), Matthew Dunbar (University of Washington), Luanne Thompson (University of Washington)
Andrew Reid Bell, New York University
Tingyin Xiao, Princeton University
Co-authors: Michael Oppenheimer (Princeton University), Xiaogang He (Princeton University), Marina Mastrorillo (Princeton University)
Co-authors: Gordon McGranahan, Kytt MacManus, and Hasim Engin
(Session 3B) International Comparative Perspectives [Room 105]
James Fitton, Aalborg University (co-authors Dr. Jim Hansom (University of Glasgow), Dr. Alistair Rennie (Scottish Natural Heritage and University of Glasgow))
Scotland’s rural and extensive 21,000 km coastline does not support significant amounts of infrastructure or development. However, 19% (3,802 km) of the Scottish coast is soft (coasts with the potential to erode) and up to a third of Scotland’s coastal buildings, roads, rail and water network lie within these erodible sections. The need for retreat is most likely to be within the developed soft shoreline, but such urban shores can better justify ‘holding the line’ for longer. Thus, for showcasing managed retreat, attention might be best focussed away from the developed end of the rural-urban divide. Within the semi-rural and rural areas challenging economic cost/benefits are likely to be harder to justify earlier than on urban shores. This will drive a spectrum of location-specific responses to coastal management.
This paper will discuss the use of, and barriers to, managed retreat using cases from three scenarios:
1. Coastlines where we may need to retreat – Scotland has world class coastal archaeology, e.g. Skara Brae World Heritage Site, which are at risk from coastal erosion and flooding. How should these cultural/historical assets be managed?
2. Coastlines where we may still need to ‘hold the line’ – outside of the cities there remain areas where we may need to resist coastal process, e.g. key transport routes, such as the Inverness-Wick railway line.
3. Coastlines where managed retreat has been ‘built in’ – some recent infrastructure in Scotland is designed to evolve and relocate with future coastal erosion using pre-planned alternative locations in case of erosion e.g. Machrihanish Golf Course.
This paper provides examples from Scotland that inform the tension surrounding the deployment of coastal retreat, as well as providing information on how to manage cultural and tourism assets impacted by coastal hazards.
Ashley Robb, Curtin University / Western Australian Local Government Association
Western Australia (WA) is the largest state in Australia, with a coastline close to 13,000 miles long. Most of the state’s population and economic infrastructure are situated along this coast, in settlements established on low-lying sandy landforms. These landforms, and the assets located on them, are highly vulnerable to storm erosion, temporary inundation and shoreline recession; coastal hazards that are expected to intensify with climate change. In Australia, the Federal Government has mostly absolved itself of responsibility for adapting to these hazards and most state governments have largely devolved management responsibility to local governments. In WA, state planning policy requires local governments to prepare coastal hazard risk management plans, to ensure that communities are prepared and able to adapt to coastal hazards. The State Government has also detailed its preferred method of adaptation: managed retreat through property acquisition. However, the State Government is yet to provide any indication that funding will be made available to enable this approach. This paper presents the findings from research undertaken through participant observation, case studies and in-depth interviews with local governments in WA, which examined: the likelihood of local governments in WA establishing property acquisition programs to enable managed retreat; and, alternative options such as transferable development rights, new development controls, regulation of shoreline stabilisation structures, and common law principles. In particular, the paper provides insight into: the perceptions of local government practitioners who are responsible for adaptation in their communities; issues of fairness and equity; and, potential solutions which are considerate of current legislative, political and economic contexts.
Nicolas Rocle and Jeanne Dachary-Bernard, IRSTEA – National Research Institute of Science and Technologies for Environment and Agriculture (co-author Hélène REY-VALETTE (University of Montpellier, France))
In the last decade and especially since storm Xynthia (2010) which caused 47 deaths and about € 1.5 billion damages, coastal adaptation to sea level rise has grown on the French political agenda. In addition to strengthening vigilance, alert and risk prevention measures, managed retreat is the subject of intense debates and several policy initiatives (Rocle and Salles, 2018). Based on a multi-level and interdisciplinary analysis of managed retreat incentives and controversies, the presentation will provide empirical insights on current politics and on the step-by-step politicization process surrounding managed retreat in France. Indeed, although no major operations have taken place so far, several actions are being carried out to engage local authorities in the implementation of managed retreat strategies. We will particularly focus on a policy experiment launched by the French Ministry for the Environment (2012-2016) in order to study legal, financial and sociopolitical feasibility of managed retreat in a few pilot areas. We will highlight the main lessons learned from this experiment and the way they are currently questioning the French institutional setting dealing with coastal risks management. The key conflicting points are related to the natural disaster insurance system (based on a national solidarity), land property rules, the so-called ‘Littoral law’, and the sharing of authority and responsibilities between state and local governments (Abel et al., 2011). However, little is known about residents’ attitudes and preferences towards managed retreat measures and possible incentives. Thus, we will also present the results of an economic valuation that aimed at understanding the inhabitants’ preferences for different relocation strategy attributes (Dachary-Bernard et al., 2019). The results are analyzed in terms of territorial solidarity, spatial heterogeneity and risk perception by comparing individual willingness to pay for relocation between the shoreline residents and the hinterland population.
Catherine Iorns Magallanes, Victoria University of Wellington
Prof Iorns holds a NZ National Science Challenge contract for work on climate adaptation law in New Zealand relevant to residential housing; she is currently finalising three reports (totalling more than 500pp) for it. One part of this work focuses on managed retreat, assessing whether the law is adequate to enable managed retreat and, if not, what else might be required; it also focuses on the protection of indigenous heritage.
The New Zealand legal framework was, when enacted, at the forefront of (the then new) sustainable and integrated management approaches. However, it is unable to adequately provide for managed retreat from the coast, nor for indigenous interests. For example, it strongly protects existing use rights, and land use consents are typically granted in perpetuity. Adopting a bottom-up approach, implementing the principle of subsidiarity, has enabled community participation but has also meant that there is no central planning process or enabling mechanism. It also means that approaches vary with community capacity.
The lack of a central approach has already seen different territorial authorities adopting different approaches to managed retreat, from doing nothing to pursuing full compulsory acquisition. It has led to threats of legal action and uncertainty in fact and law. Further, there has been insufficient protection of indigenous heritage, leading to significant indigenous environmental justice concerns. Overall, the lack of central guidance, let alone a legal mechanism to enable managed retreat, appears set to leave NZ in the unfortunate position that ‘the rich get sea walls, the poor get moved’, and indigenous heritage gets lost.
This paper summarises the findings and recommendations of this two-year project in respect of managed retreat in New Zealand, highlighting lessons that may be transferable to other countries.
Paul Govind, Macquarie University
Climate change adaptation under coastal management law and policy is framed as defence against natural hazards. It is a familiar operation for land use planning law that has for generations been positioned to deal with managing the vulnerability of property holdings in the coastal zone. However, integrating climate change adaptation into existing legal systems such as planning law necessarily restricts the capacity for adaptation to engender transformational change. The regulatory outcome remains, that adaptation is equated with coastal defense of property, while retreat is not an option.
Framing is where resistance to change had taken root however has been largely overlooked as part of the law and policy regulating adaptation. Adaptation is framed so that it is friendly to the prevailing legal system to which it is integrated in a way that is not interventionist and disruptive. While framed as coastal defence, adaptation is aimed at maintaining the freedom of choice of property owners to live in vulnerable areas. The choice of adaptation instruments and strategies remains conservative.
In New South Wales, Australia government has moved away from interventionist adaptation regulation under the veneer of reaffirming the primacy of private property choice. Government will interfere with property rights by sponsoring retreat – but will provide minimal assistance to facilitate protection of property. This paper traces the retreat by government from property interference through the period from 1979 to 2018. In the context of coastal laws in NSW the bottom line is that government is lumping the benefits of choice and responsibilities for managing of risk into a take it or leave it bundle. Freedom from government regulation comes with costs. Choice is retained to the extent that government does not intend to retreat/relocate properties or acquire land but will provide limited support in helping them stay there.
(Session 3C) Government Planning [Room 107]
Frances Bui, CDM Smith (co-authors Manny Perotin, P.E. (CDM Smith); John Ingargiola (FEMA))
Every year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides assistance to communities nationwide to become more resilient by preparing for and recovering from major disasters. Often, decisions are made to press forward with recovery as quickly as possible to construct as before and in-kind with marginal risk reduction to help communities return to normal operations by the next tourist season.
This presentation’s focus is twofold: first, it examines how FEMA currently supports communities by providing financial and technical assistance, and secondly, it studies how FEMA, working with communities, helps guide timely decisions on incorporating stricter standards during reconstruction and analyzing the tough choice of whether reconstruction in a high-risk zone is sound for public safety and sustainability of the community.
FEMA collaborates with state and local partners and invests in the viability of communities by providing technical and financial assistance through the Stafford Act via Public Assistance, Individual Assistance, and Hazard Mitigation Grant Programs, which include grants that allow for the acquisition of properties that have been repeatedly exposed to flooding. A summary of the hazard mitigation programs that incentivize retreat, supported with case studies and retrospective data from recent disasters, will be reviewed.
After major disasters (e.g., Michael, Irma, Harvey, Maria, Sandy, Katrina, Ivan), FEMA deploys Mitigation Assessment Teams (MATs), consisting of technical subject matter experts, to conduct forensic engineering analyses based on field data, observations, and interviews to assess how buildings and related infrastructure performed. These analyses result in a list of recommendations for continued actions that federal, state, and local governments, planners, designers, constructors, and building code organizations can take to mitigate damage from future events. Summaries from previous MATs, supported with case studies that touch upon stricter standards and considerations for potential retreat, will be reviewed.
Carolyn Fraioli, New York State Department of State, Rebecca Newell, New York State Department of State, Jane K. Brogan, Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery
Identification of risk on the landscape is the first step in planning for resilience. While several products exist to help identify flood risk, such as FEMA floodplains maps, no single product characterizes different types of flood risks facing coastal communities. NYS Department of State (DOS) recognized a need for a risk tool and mapping product to help communities visualize and quantify risks to community assets. DOS worked with FEMA and NOAA to develop “planning-level” risk area maps for the downstate coastal region of NYS, integrating several hazard datasets and ultimately producing extreme, high, and moderate risk areas. DOS worked with communities affected by Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene, and Tropical Storm Lee through a recovery and resilience planning process that included use of the risk assessment tool and mapping product to identify assets, compute risk scores, and prioritize recovery and resilience actions. The Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR) coordinates Statewide recovery efforts which includes the NY Rising Buyout and Acquisition Program. The voluntary Buyout Program aims to address at-risk areas that have experienced repeated instances of flooding. Properties are purchased and maintained as open space in perpetuity. To identify buyout areas, GOSR utilized the DOS coastal risk area maps to identify extreme and high risk areas. The State also considered if there was a history of flooding and damage, local and county officials’ perspectives, and whether a majority of property owners voiced an interest. Three neighborhoods in Staten Island, six on the southern shore of Long Island, and one riverine community north of NYC were defined as buyout areas. The Oakwood Beach neighborhood in Staten Island is an example of the program’s success and lessons learned. Ultimately, managed retreat programs must be tailored to each ecological area and success is dependent on participation and willingness of homeowners and communities.
Other presenters: Rebecca Newell
Elnazir Ramadan, Sultan Qaboos University
Coastal zones around the world have always attracted large population in view of their resources as they offer access points for maritime trade, recreational or cultural activities. Oman is a country with vast coastal zone in the south of Arabian Peninsula. Oman coastal zones represent an important access point in history of the country. In the present time these zones are undergoing tremendous changes in socio-economic and environmental values over the past few decades since the development and utilization of coastal zones has greatly increased due to high population growth. On the other hand, this population has likely high exposure to coastal hazards including sea-level rise and associated storm surge flooding effects. The aim of this study is to explore the inputs of government institutions and the community in the formulation of policy framework towards addressing urban climate change adaptation and resilience. The Study examines the role played by Government institutions and the community in climate change adaptation. The main question of the study addressed is focusing on adaptation response capacity, governance, institutional arrangements and communal and responses. The study methodology is based on qualitative and participative methods that were used to enable stakeholders both (local community members and government officials) as well as researchers to gauge information, identify demands and discuss proposals and solutions. Managing the coastal zone is a complex issue due to its importance in terms of human population size, coastal development and associated climate change hazards .Coastal flooding risk associated to tropical cyclones (TCs) is nowadays a major concern in low-lying and populated areas in Oman. In the past few years there have been devastating examples in the Arabian Sea (i.e. Gonu or Phet) that encourages better understanding, characterizing and prediction. The coastal zone also supports the widest array of ecosystems, with diverse habitats and associated ecology. The study results revealed that Government of Oman has worked out comprehensive coastal zone management plans towards protection of coral reefs, wetlands, mangrove, turtles and other resources, including land and groundwater resources in order to meet the challenges of environmental protection along with the development. Integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) is an approach of adopted by the government that seeks developing legislations for coastal zone protection, management plans, recovery and governance along with awareness raising. The (ICZM) approach implemented included a sort of controversial managed retreat programs.
Tyler Harrison and Joanna Lombard, University of Miami (co-authors Angela Clark, Gina Maranto, Sam Purkis)
Many current strategies to coordinate climate adaptation activities have concentrated at the regional scale. For instance, in January 2010, Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach Counties formed the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact to coordinate mitigation and adaptation activities across county lines. Out of this initiative has grown the Regional Climate Action Plan (RCAP), a toolset for coordinated climate action in Southeast Florida to build climate resilience. While the coordinated regional focus is important, we contend that it misses the granularity at which community decision-making actually occurs. Our central thesis is that adaptation and resilience to climate change requires a multidimensional, localized strategy to understand the risks, values, assets, and possible actions of each community, including relocation and retreat. To address current scalar limitations, our inter-disciplinary team evaluates physical and built environment data, together with societal vulnerability and social networks in Miami in order to assess risk and resilience at a neighborhood scale. This work identifies gaps in theory, data, and tools for decision-making at these scales. Further it lays the foundation for a framework for enabling neighborhoods in other coastal regions to scale existing climate action plans to the most appropriate units of analysis, tailor them to their own hyper-local circumstances, and then, through high-resolution data, build to the most effective actionable scale.
Adam Parris, Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay (co-authors Julie Beagle (San Francisco Estuary Institute), Letitia Grenier (San Francisco Estuary Institute), and Katie Graziano (Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay))
Focusing on retreat, managed or otherwise, oversimplifies the challenges facing the coast. Retreat fails to convey the breadth of needed changes in culture, laws, infrastructure, habitat, and even humanity. For example, a change in understanding tradeoffs as a matter not just of quantified risk, but also respect for and knowledge of a place. With this context in mind, the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay (SRIJB) and the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) are teaming up to advance the science and practice of coastal climate adaptation.
SRIJB and partners are building an inclusive, deliberative, science-based process in Canarsie, a densely populated neighborhood of southern Brooklyn on the shoreline of Jamaica Bay. Canarsie is facing a foreclosure crisis owing to increasing flood risk, even as residents grapple with existing stressors like crime, gentrification, and limited opportunities for economic growth. Between 2040 – 2060, sea level is expected to rise approximately 30 inches, at which point our analysis shows a substantial increase in the number of structures flooded on a monthly basis. Rather than leading with retreat as the main focus, we are using a combination of action research, integrated modeling, and civic engagement to stimulate dialogue between residents and decision makers, using co-developed quality of life indicators as a means of discussing acceptable courses of action.
The San Francisco Bay Area’s varying landscape characteristics (such as geology, hydrology, and climate), land use, and demographics make different parts of the Bay shore vulnerable to sea- level rise in different ways. However, the region has 101 cities and towns, 9 counties, and hundreds of special districts and local government agencies and NGOs. To help meet the challenge of sea-level rise, SFEI is building a science-based spatial framework which defines practical, science-based, and geographically-specific sets of suitable integrated adaptation strategies. These include both physical and non-physical ways of influencing future land use and the built environment to manage risk, as a way to introduce the possibility of realignment or retreat as a piece of the adaptation puzzle. The result is an interactive resource for understanding what kind of nature-based and policy-based adaptation strategies could work for real places in the Bay Area. This framework is being used by several regional regulatory agencies, and local governments as a basis for developing adaptation pathways.
Through an active exchange, we see critical elements emerging for science-based organizations supporting coastal climate adaptation. These elements include, but are not limited to: knowledge brokering that supports equity, the ability to reconcile regional science with local context, and guidance for implementing hybrid adaptation options using nature.
(Session 3D) Trends in Vulnerability [Room 102B]
Jeremy Brooks, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, The Earth Institute, Columbia University (co-authors Joshua DeVincenzo EdM, Thessa Roy BA, Jonathan Sury MPH CPH, Ashley Tseng BS, Thomas Chandler PhD, Irwin Redlener MD)
The United States is experiencing a change in the climate and in its demographics. These changes are especially true in the coastal counties that contain approximately 30% of the country’s population. The population and density in these counties have transformed in the past couple of decades with an increase in racial, ethnic, and economic diversity of coastal residents. These increasingly diverse communities are now more likely to be vulnerable to the economic and health impacts of climate change. The sea level rise from climate change also creates higher risk of flooding to those coastal communities.
This presentation will analyze the demographic changes of coastal counties in the United States, consider how the costs of flooding have increased over time, and how the most vulnerable populations are affected by the increased risks of flooding. The analysis of demographic and housing data from the US Census Bureau will follow standards established by NOAA and the Census Bureau to define coastal counties. Costs of flooding will be analyzed using data from FEMA related to the National Flood Insurance Program and the Individuals and Households Program. Vulnerability will be assessed using the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index. The presentation will also show a pilot of a mapping project from the National Center for Disaster Preparedness that compiles indicators of housing and economic vulnerability and recovery throughout the United States.
Takeaways from this presentation will include a better understanding of the risks of flooding, rapid development, and urbanization. Learners will also be able to determine the economic costs of flooding and sea level rise, and how vulnerability can influence the economic and social costs. Finally, learners will be able to determine how to best communicate the risks of flooding and vulnerability in their community.
Alex de Sherbinin, The Earth Institute, Columbia University (co-author Susana Adamo)
The concept of vulnerability has received a lot of attention in the climate change literature. Differential vulnerability is the concept that some populations are more sensitive to climate impacts than others owing to factors such as age, education, income, language barriers, and historical inequalities owing to race or ethnicity. Differential exposure, sometimes referred to as the poverty exposure bias, tests the hypothesis that more vulnerable populations are also more highly exposed owing to land pricing or historical factors that result in their over-representation in high risk areas. This paper explores the evidence for a differential exposure in the low elevation coastal zone, and identifies the implications of these findings for policy, especially policies related to coastal retreat.
Fu Xinyu, Georgia State University
Coastal communities around the world are increasingly faced with pressure from sea-level rise (SLR). Adapting to its impacts is now considered inevitable. In fact, many coastal communities in the US are already conducting vulnerability assessments to plan for the current and future potential SLR impacts. Yet no study has analyzed the content of these emerging assessments and their quality. This study aims to address this gap by evaluating sixty-four current SLR vulnerability assessments in the US against an established multi-criteria evaluation framework. It is the first baseline study to understand how the vulnerability of SLR has been assessed by US coastal governments and, more importantly, to shed lights on pathways for their future improvements. Our analysis finds that the content and quality of the existing assessments studies varies largely. One-sided assessments only considering the physical exposure are common and most assessments generally fail to plan for adaptations. The wealth of the area, funding amount, mainstreaming efforts and public awareness are all positively correlated with the assessment quality. We also find that the assessments authored by the planning department are lower in quality, whereas those conducted through collaboration are higher-quality. Our findings offer important knowledge to urban planners and coastal managers to improve future vulnerability assessments and adaptation planning for SLR.
Caitlin Spence, Metropolitan Area Council (co-authors Seleeke Flingai, Raul Gonzalez, Anne Herbst, Darci Schofield, Jessie Partridge Guerrerro)
Climate change and sea level rise are major planning challenges facing coastal regions today. However, the impacts are not distributed equally. Communities vary in terms of exposure to climate risks, sensitivity to hazards, and the resources available to adapt and re-organize in the face of both long-term change and acute disasters. Understanding hotspots of resilience and vulnerability across the region and within communities can support policy development by identifying opportunities for intervention, as well as strategies that have successfully built resilience. As part of the MetroCommon 2050 Regional Plan Update, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council has prepared climate vulnerability and resilience maps for the Greater Boston region with input from regional stakeholders in climate justice and community development organizations, government, academic institutions, and more. The maps are not intended to comprehensively identify all vulnerable areas within the metropolitan region, but to initiate regional and local conversations while providing a platform for building knowledge. The maps portray indicators of exposure to climate hazards alongside individual and aggregate sensitivity and adaptive capacity indicators. The maps highlight areas where climate risks are compounded by sensitivity or limited resources for recovery or adaptation. Ultimately, the maps will be presented in a web-based, interactive form that allows users to explore connections between individual vulnerability and resilience indicators, understand pathways to vulnerability or resilience, and contribute information on local exposure to climate risks and adaptive capacity resources. The maps aim to inform equitable municipal planning and state-level policy.
5:00pm: Undercurrents: Navigating the Human Dynamics of Climigration – An Applied Theatre Approach [Room 104/106]
This session demonstrates an arts-meets-science approach to facilitating more productive conversations about managed retreat. Applied theatre is a method that invites audience members to observe social dynamics, as portrayed by professional actors, around a challenging topic, and then interact with the characters in order to dive more deeply into their thoughts, feelings and reactions. Undercurrents aims to help professionals develop a more nuanced understanding of a complex issue, while also building empathy across a range of perspectives within communities facing managed retreat. It was developed by a UNH team including professional actors, a climate scientist and outreach specialist. The workshop is executed by UNH’s PowerPlay team.
Organized by: Julia Peterson, Cameron Wake, CJ Lewis, and David Kaye, University of New Hampshire, with support from Sea Grant New Hampshire.
6:00pm: Managed Retreat, a documentary film, produced and directed by Nathan Kensinger [Room 104/106]
Managed Retreat is a short documentary portrait of three New York City neighborhoods that, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, were purchased by the NY State government, to be demolished and returned to nature as part of the city’s first ‘managed retreat’ from rising sea levels. This observational documentary follows the process of retreat over the course of five seasons, as homes are destroyed and wild animals begin to return.
A short Q&A with the director will follow the film. http://nathankensinger.com/managed-retreat/