2021 Conference Homepage

Blue colored banner that reads: At What Point Managed Retreat? Resilience, Relocation and Climate Justice, Virtual Conference June 2021, with visual of New York City skyline



Building on the success of the 2019 conference on Managed Retreat, the 2021 conference addressed a range of scientific, social, policy and governance issues around managed retreat (also known as strategic realignment and planned relocation). The conference, a major initiative of the Columbia Climate School and its Earth Institute, brought together over 900 stakeholders from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, together with academics, scientists, and community representatives, to help develop a common understanding of this complex issue, and move the needle toward equitable solutions. A major emphasis was on issues of environmental justice, in recognition that the people most impacted by decisions around retreat have a key role in these conversations.

Conference goals:

  • advance the research agenda around managed retreat in an interdisciplinary, solutions-oriented way;
  • facilitate networking and discussion among many types of stakeholders, and bridge the information gap between academics, practitioners, and affected communities; and
  • develop concrete solutions and best practices around a complex climate adaptation issue.


For media inquiries, please reach out to Kevin Krajick, [email protected]

We highly encourage submissions from non-academic participants, especially those working in spaces at the intersection of environmental justice and climate adaptation. In addition to individual presentations, we will also accept submissions for organized panels or ideas for other interactive trainings or workshops.  

Key topics that will be addressed include:

  • Built environment (e.g. design and architecture; land use planning; infrastructure; infrastructure interdependencies; urban planning)
  • Buyouts and property acquisition
  • Climate and social science for managed retreat (e.g. exposure, vulnerability, risk)
  • Communication strategies (e.g. storytelling; teaching about managed retreat; arts)
  • Community resilience (e.g. community organizing; vulnerable populations; psychology; mental health; residents perspectives)
  • Ecosystem conservation and migration
  • Environmental justice and equity
  • Finance and economics
  • Governance, policy and planning (e.g. decision-making; international frameworks; federal management; state programs; local planning; multi-level policy coordination)
  • Infrastructure interdependencies (e.g. public health, energy, transportation)
  • International perspectives
  • Legal issues and tools (e.g. climate migrants/refugees)
  • Migration as adaptation (e.g. assisted relocation; voluntary movement; connecting retreat and the climate migration discourse)
  • Non-coastal retreat (e.g. flood and riverine areas; drought and dryland expansion; temperature extremes; wildfire in the urban-wildland interface)
  • Private sector perspectives (e.g. insurance, real estate)
  • Receiving communities (e.g. within countries; internationally; policy instruments)

Conference Fees:

General Registration: $120 (early registration $80)

Government; Nonprofit; Columbia University Affiliate; Student Registration: $40

Video Highlight: In Crowding Climate Danger Zones, Seeking Paths to ‘Managed Retreat’ (December 2020)
Video Highlight: Pathways to Change and Justice for Underserved and Indigenous Communities Along Changing Coastlines