Coastal communities across the world are seeing greater losses of life and property every year as development gravitates toward some of the most exposed places in the world. This trend will intensify as the expected explosion of populations and capital allocation along the world's coastlines is paralleled by sea level rise and intensified storms, which will threaten water supplies, trade infrastructure and trillions of dollars in real estate.
As coastal communities push for solutions, a growing number recognize the importance of the financial services sector to large-scale action. Yet even the largest cities in the world do not have the right connections to enable such private-public partnerships since actors in the financial services sector operate at the scale of global markets.
At the same time, investors and businesses have only begun to recognize the imbedded climate risk of their portfolios and books of business.
This national initiative is the first forum bringing together the public and private sectors to realize their shared risks and their need for collective action and to develop a blueprint for policy and fiduciary action that will protect communities and the long-term value of the public and private funds on which they depend. The commitment's blueprint signatories will commit to undertake particular actions in their own business, to work together to educate other stakeholders on the need for action and solutions, and to advocate for action by other parties whose action is essential to spurring climate adaptation.
By focusing on the Gulf and Atlantic coastlines of the U.S. the Resilient Coasts Initiative will create a model for similar efforts in other regions of the nation and the world with urban coastal populations at risk. The project has already begun raising interest for shared learning with cities on the West Coast, the United Kingdom, and Asia.
The goal of this multi-stage project is to reduce risks and help adapt our coasts to climate change. The product of the first phase of the project will be a robust Resilient Coasts Blueprint that aligns regulatory, investment and planning efforts to improve resiliency in American coastal communities. The Blueprint will be tested at the regional level, where its recommendations will be fine-tuned to produce an effective strategy that can be implemented in coastal communities from Washington to Texas to Maine.
With this aim in mind, The Heinz Center and Ceres are convening a National Coastal Resiliency Forum in New York City in November 2008, followed by a press conference in February 2009 to announce the Blueprint. Subsequent to these events, two regional forums will be held in New York/New Jersey and the Southeastern U.S. To facilitate this collaboration among sectors that have not previously come together, Heinz and Ceres are drawing on their relationships with state and national policymakers, investors, financial institutions, insurance regulators, and insurance companies.
Once finalized, Blueprint signatories will begin to implement the recommendations within their business operations, work as a coalition to educate other stakeholders on the need for action and solutions, and to advocate for action by other parties whose action is essential to spurring climate adaptation.
The Resilient Coasts Blueprint seeks to catalyze investment, policy and company action by:
- Creating political support to mitigate risks in coastal areas and retain private insurance coverage;
- Building support for risk-based land use planning in the private and public sectors;
- Creating incentives for widespread implementation of resilience-enhancing building codes;
- Aligning government energy efficiency retrofit programs with disaster-resistant retrofits;
- Catalyzing the protection of natural infrastructure such as coastal wetlands and barrier islands;
- Helping investors manage the physical risks of climate change across their portfolios.
The Blueprint recommendation will, when implemented, shape the practices of these leaders, their constituents, and customers. The Blueprint will be integrated into Commitment Partners' ongoing outreach to policymakers, investors, conservation organizations, and companies.