Panel Events

This panel event on June 19, 2019 marked the opening event of the first Managed Retreat conference at Columbia University.

Welcome Remarks, Alex Halliday, Director, The Earth Institute, Columbia University

Remarks from Jainey Bavishi, Director of the New York City Mayor's Office of Resiliency

Panel Discussion:

  • Moderated by Radley Horton, Lamont Associate Research Professor, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, The Earth Institute, Columbia University
  • Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director, UPROSE
  • Jesse Keenan, Lecturer in Architecture, Harvard University Graduate School of Design and Visiting Scholar, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
  • Liz Koslov, Assistant Professor, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Robin Bronen, Executive Director, Alaska Institute for Justice

Extreme heat events cause more deaths in the typical year than any other type of extreme event. They also pose major challenges to our infrastructure. As our planet warms under increasing greenhouse gases, there is high confidence that heat extremes will become even more frequent and intense. This panel brings together climate scientists and public and private sector practitioners to highlight the relationship between climate change and extreme heat events, and showcase some ways that society is adapting. WATCH HERE

Participants include:
• Kizzy Charles-Guzman, New York City Mayor’s Office of Recovery & Resiliency
• Robert Haas, Radiant Solutions
• Katherine Marvel, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
• Gavin Schmidt, Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
• Peggy Shepard, WE ACT for Environmental Justice

Around the world, sea-level rise could lead to widespread migration, as people along vulnerable coastlines escape rising water levels. But coastal flooding isn’t the only extreme event that can impact migration patterns. As evidenced just this year in the United States by Hurricanes Maria and Harvey, and the widespread and devastating wildfires in Northern California, there are many types of extreme weather events that require relocation to safer ground.

On December 5th, 2017, this panel looked at the issues of retreat and relocation as they relate to extreme weather events and climate change.

The idea of retreating, whether temporary or permanent, is unpopular, controversial and brings a host of challenges. Yet around the world, extreme weather has displaced people from their homes, causing disruption to communities and lives. This panel provided an interdisciplinary exploration of the issues and challenges associated with climate-induced migration. What does climate science tell us about who may need to migrate? What are the legal issues surrounding managed retreat? Is relocation a feasible climate adaptation strategy? How can we ensure that people relocate to safe and secure places? Is ‘orderly’ retreat at a large scale even possible? Panelists explored these questions and more.

Moderator: Radley Horton, Lamont Associate Research Professor, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, The Earth Institute


  • Lisa Dale, Lecturer, Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development
  • Michael Gerrard, Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School
  • Alex de Sherbinin, Associate Director for Science Applications, Center for International Earth Science Information Network, The Earth Institute

On Tuesday, March 27th, 2017 we hosted the launch event of Columbia GSAPP’s Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes on the Morningside campus, joined by over 200 students, faculty and guests. The event gave the audience some insight into the goals of the new center, highlighted some opportunities for engagement, and incorporated an academic discussion on the topic of resilient cities. WATCH HERE

The event described the center’s inaugural project, the creation of a groundbreaking Resilience Accelerator in partnership with 100 Resilient Cities (100RC). The Resilience Accelerator aims to leverage the research, planning and design expertise at Columbia with the local knowledge and relationships of the partner cities to advance high priority resilience projects that will help cities confront the impacts of climate change.


  • Sam Carter, Director, Resilience Accelerator, 100 Resilient Cities
  • Courtney Smith, Program Associate, Resilience, The Rockefeller Foundation

Panel Discussion:

  • Radley Horton, Lamont Associate Research Professor and Co-Chair, Climate Adaptation Initiative
  • Upmanu Lall, Director, Columbia Water Center
  • Kate Orff, Director, Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes and Principal, SCAPE
  • Thaddeus Pawlowski, Managing Director, Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes (moderator)

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are a group of countries that face unique sustainable development challenges; among these challenges are their vulnerability to climate change and their susceptibility to natural disasters, loss of land in low-lying coastal areas, and loss of ecosystem services and livelihoods.

With the devastating effects of climate change, intertwined with other trends such as population growth and globalization, the question thus lies – should whole populations of SIDS retreat, in/out-of-country migration, or can they create resilience strategies in order to adapt in place to the challenges they face? On April 19, this panel discussion on Resilience in Place in an Age of Retreat aimed to explore this question while promoting interdisciplinary dialogues amongst the Columbia community.

Read about the event in a blog post here, or watch the full video of the event here.

Moderator: Lisa Dale, Lecturer, Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development


  • Angela Burnett, climate change officer for the Virgin Islands’ Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour
  • Cassie Flynn, climate change adviser, United Nations
  • Radley Horton, Lamont Associate Research Professor, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, The Earth Institute
  • Tearinaki Tanielu, Kiribati representative for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS)

Climate Change Migration and Displacement: Presenting Results and Charting a Research Agenda (WATCH HERE)

Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for Science Applications at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), organized a seminar on climate change and migration as part of launch activities for the World Bank report Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration, for which CIESIN and partners at CUNY Institute for Demographic Research (CIDR) and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research conducted migration modeling.

The event, held  March 20, 3–5pm, at Lerner Hall, Columbia University, featured preliminary remarks by Stephen Hammer, head of climate policy for the World Bank, followed by a presentation on modeling methods and results, and an expert panel. The panel was moderated by Marc Levy, CIESIN deputy director, with panelists Richard Seager, Lamont-Doherty research professor; Craig Spencer, M.D., faculty of the Program on Forced Migration and Health, Mailman School of Public Health; Amali Tower, executive director, Climate Refugees; Sarah Rosengaertner, international migration expert, Columbia University Global Policy Initiative; and Richard Balme, visiting scholar from SciencesPo at SIPA.

The event was attended by more than 60 researchers and interested individuals, including climate-migration researchers at CUNY, Princeton University, and New York University.

The Sustainable Development Capstone Workshop in conjunction with the Earth Institute hosted a panel discussion at Columbia University, Collaborating for Change, bringing together a range of experts working within the field of climate adaptation  to showcase the diversity of work on this topic. The full video of the event can be found here. The event provided an opportunity to identify and discuss the most pressing issues pertaining to climate adaptation and to devise collaborative, interdisciplinary solutions. The discussion was moderated by award-winning environmental journalist Andrew Revkin. As a reporter for the New York Times, Revkin wrote Dot Earth, an environmental blog examining the environmental impacts of human activity. Revkin currently works as the senior reporter for climate and related issues at ProPublica.


  • Adela Gondek, Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology at Columbia University, specializing in environmental ethics
  • Peter Marcotullio, Director of the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities and Professor of Urban Planning at Columbia University
  • Shaun Martin, Senior Director, Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
  • C. Salyer, Lawyer and Professor of Anthropology and Human Rights at Barnard College

The event began with pre-recorded remarks by Thomas Friedman, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist, best-selling author and contributor to the hit documentary series “Years of Living Dangerously.”