The climate is changing, and coastal communities are acutely aware of the impacts. Sea levels are rising faster than predicted causing king tides to overtop seawalls. Storm intensity is increasing as the oceans warm. Clear sky flooding is occurring in places that never experienced flooding in the past. Coastal communities all over the world are hungry for dynamic, comprehensive solutions to these now common occurrences which threaten property and livelihood.

Given the current and expected conditions across the globe, resiliency efforts and implementation must be looked at from a holistic view to attenuate increased flooding. Existing as well as emerging technologies must be explored and all avenues for funding should be considered. We cannot design for conditions 200 years from now, but we can design for conditions that we will face as a global community over the next five decades. Planning for the intermediate future will put the next generation in a position of strength to address the problems they will face with future technologies that we have not yet imagined.

The need for innovative, sustainable and resilient solutions is recognized globally and reflected in international agreements including The UN Sustainable Goals for innovative infrastructure (Goal 9), sustainable communities (Goal 11) and taking action to protect against climate impacts (Goal 13) as well as the priorities of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. However, this looks different in each community based on individual vulnerabilities. A holistic approach is necessary to address these exigencies, recognizing the unique threats or strengths and considering the entire toolbox of solutions.

A holistic approach requires the inclusion of many components. A global resiliency plan would consider funding sources, comprehensive vision, local regulation, long-term infrastructure and land planning. Communities need to consider innovative funding sources for both one-time projects and ongoing infrastructure needs. Comprehensive plans for local communities must include realistic approaches to address expected increased flooding conditions. Land development codes should provide options and guidance to private property owners who need or want to address impacts to their property and the environment. Capital improvement programs and funding mechanisms must begin to address sea level rise, storm surge and increasingly severe storm events. Freshwater lens replenishment as well as responsible management of wastewater and urban runoff must become a prime consideration for land use planning and

The key to successful implementation of a resiliency plan is public education and participation. There must be local buy-in from all, including property owners, the business community as well as the local elected and government officials. A resiliency plan not thoroughly developed and supported by the community will sit on a shelf and the wasted effort will dampen community support for future efforts. Creating public buy-in and support ensures that the community will persevere through the process to implement the vision and establish a more resilient community.

By taking a holistic approach to the challenges facing our communities and developing comprehensive plans that contemplate a changing environment and increased flooding, we will put the next generation in a position of strength to move forward and face these challenges head-on with confidence.

If you want to learn more about the challenges we face related to increased flooding and what can be done short term to minimize the impact, join our digital event on the 24th of March, 2021.