Managing Climate Risks in Coastal Communities

Managing Climate Risks in Coastal Communities

Strategies for Engagement, Readiness and Adaptation

By Lawrence Susskind
Danya Rumore
Carri Hulet
Patrick Field

Drawing on research from the New England Climate Adaptation Project, this book introduces a framework for building local capacity to respond to climate change. It argues that most of the responsibility for responding to climate risks must be taken by local stakeholders, and that climate adaptation efforts require collective rather than individual commitments to risk management.

Hardback, 464 Pages


September 2015

£90.00, $145.00

  • About This Book
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About This Book

This volume reports on the research completed as part of the multi-year New England Climate Adaptation Project (NECAP), a partnership between the MIT Science Impact Collaborative, the US Government's National Estuarine Research Reserve System, four New England coastal towns, and the Consensus Building Institute. The first half of the book offers a series of chapters that explain how and why climate adaptation requires collective rather than individual risk management. It argues that most of the responsibility for responding to climate risks—including sea level rise, storm intensification, changing patterns of rainfall, and increasing temperature—must be taken by local and regional stakeholders.

While collective action is critical for climate adaptation, many communities are not ready to effectively tackle the adaptation challenge, and need enhanced collaborative capacity to support collective risk management. Using concrete examples, this book offers strategies to increase the readiness of communities to deal effectively with the impacts of climate change. It introduces methods for assessing local climate change risks and describes tools for evaluating the social and political contexts in which collective action can take place. It also shares NECAP research demonstrating that engaging communities in tailored role-play simulations has impacted public understanding of climate risks and local readiness to support collective risk management efforts.

The second half of the book presents the products of NECAP, including stakeholder assessments (showing how key stakeholders think about climate risks), risk assessments (including downscaled forecasts from global climate models presented in a way that is accessible to the public), tailored role play simulations (that other communities can use to engage residents in their locality), community case studies (that provide statistical and qualitative evidence of the before-and-after impact of public engagement in serious games), and the results of public opinion polls following interventions in each community after almost 18 months. 


“The timing couldn’t be more pertinent as coastal communities around the globe increasingly experience the consequences of a changing climate. This book hones in on one of the biggest barriers inhibiting towns and cities from investing in actions that build overall climate resilience: collective risk management.” —Anna Brown, Senior Associate Director, Rockefeller Foundation

“This eye-opening book from preeminent researchers and practitioners shows how risk assessments and role playing among key local stakeholders can engage and persuade. It offers hope and guidance to policy makers and citizens who want to act before it is too late.” —Judith Innes, Professor Emerita, University of California, Berkeley

“Cutting through the debates that polarize national governments on the issue of climate change, the authors offer keen insights into how local communities might engage the public to wrestle with the inevitable tradeoffs and chart a course toward resiliency.” —David Mathews, President, Kettering Foundation

Author Information

Lawrence Susskind is Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the Founder and Chief Knowledge Officer of the Consensus Building Institute (CBI).

Danya Rumore is the Associate Director of the Environmental Dispute Resolution Program and a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Utah.

Carri Hulet is a Senior Associate with CBI.

Patrick Field is Managing Director of CBI and Associate Director of the MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program.


Anthem Environment and Sustainability

Anthem Ecosystem Services and Restoration Series

Table of Contents

Figures and Tables; Acknowledgments; Abbreviations; PART I. 1. Helping Coastal Communities Prepare for and Respond to Climate Change-Related Risks; 2. Assessing the Social Landscape, Understanding the Readiness Challenge; 3. Why Public Engagement is Necessary to Enhance Local Readiness for Climate Adaptation; 4. NECAP Summary Risk Assessments: Creating Usable Knowledge to Help Communities Manage Climate Change Risks; 5. Enhancing Readiness to Adapt through Role-Play Simulations; 6. Reflecting on the New England Climate Adaptation Project—Lessons Learned; 7. Toward a Theory of Collective Risk Management; Appendix 1. Risk Assessment Projection: Barnstable; Appendix 2. Risk Assessment Projection: Cranston; Appendix 3. Risk Assessment Projection: Dover; Appendix 4. Risk Assessment Projection: Wells; Appendix 5. Workshop Pre-Questionnaires; Appendix 6. Workshop Post-Questionnaires; Appendix 7. Data Appendix: Workshop Survey and Public Poll Tables; PART II. Introduction; Stakeholder Assessment; Summary Risk Assessment; Role-play Simulation; Case Study; Public Poll Report; About the Authors; New England Climate Adaptation Project Partners; Index


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