Social and political factors determine success of coastal resilience projects

Written by
Keely Swan
Keely Swan, Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment
Feb. 19, 2021

With coastal flooding events expected to become more frequent in coming decades due to climate change, climate adaptation public works, such as storm surge barriers and levees, could be a key element in protecting coastal communities from storm damages and sea-level rise. And yet, these kinds of large-scale projects have been slow to move from the drawing board to breaking ground.

recent literature review by Princeton University and Rutgers University researchers explores the ways that politics, laws, governance structures, and public engagement have enabled or hindered large coastal adaptation public works projects in recent decades. The authors argue that better understanding the factors that contribute to a project’s success or failure can help inform future decision-making processes and avoid wasting precious time and planning resources.

The article published in Earth’s Future focuses on projects in the United States, looking specifically at challenges related to federal systems of governing, where the responsibilities for addressing climate risks are split across different agencies and levels of government. The authors review prior works in the fields of natural hazards, infrastructure, political science and climate adaptation.

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