Investigating Urban Coastal Resilience in the Age of Climate Change

urban resilience

Investigating Urban Coastal Resilience in the Age of Climate Change

Humans have been building cities for no longer than the past 8,000 years. In that same period, the global rate of sea level rise was slow, allowing for vast urban coastal areas to develop and expand. Now, as rising seas and greater storm surges could cost urban coastal areas more than US$1 trillion a year by 2050, governments and communities need to determine how to build secure and sustainable cities in the current reality: A world experiencing unprecedented climate change.

So what does resilience in an urban context mean, and how can journalists effectively cover actions, solutions and initiatives – or the lack of – in their home communities? That’s one focus of EJN’s new two-year project, Covering Coastal Resilience, which launched in January 2022 with funding from the Kingfisher Foundation. The project seeks to support journalists in reporting about coastal resilience issues globally as the effects of climate change become more and more pronounced.

“Around the world, sea level rise is predicted to worsen over time, and the costs associated with adapting to these new realities will increase both economically and socially,” says Lucienne Noel, EJN’s Thematic Expert in Coastal Resilience.

“Communities and their leaders urgently need accurate data and accountability, and journalists are in the right position to provide reliable information in terms of not only the crisis we face, but solutions and strategies, too,” she added.

Using our February and April 2022 webinars as a starting point, this tipsheet provides a baseline for understanding the threats confronting our world’s coastal urban areas from San Francisco to Shanghai, and the disproportionate capacity of communities in different countries to take action. 

We encourage journalists to use these chapters to guide their reporting on coastal resilience, as they cover the causes and impacts of sea level rise, coastal erosion and flooding, and investigate whether the solutions their cities are implementing are adequate, scalable, replicable, sustainable and equitable on the ground.

Get this tipsheet as a PDF.

Banner image: An aerial view of Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia / Credit: lemonmelon via Unsplash.

Chapter 1: Every year during the rainy season, the streets of Hoi An, Vietnam are flooded / Credit: Toomas Tartes via Unsplash.

Chapter 2: During heavy rain, Hong Kong's engineers track municipal drainage systems through a smartphone app / Credit: Johnlsl via Flickr.

Chapter 3: Meant to stem erosion, seawalls of enormous granite blocks — which now line more than 60 percent of the coast in Kerala, India — actually contribute to erosion by preventing the natural restoration of sand and sediment / Credit: Mary-Rose Abraham.

Chapter 4: The overview of Bak Prea village, located at the edge of the Tonle Sap floodplain in Battambang province, Northwestern Cambodia / Credit: Sokummono Khan.

Chapter 5: Unprotected sides of houses along the water opening in Dordrecht, the Netherlands / Credit: Amar Guriro.

Chapter 6: Rows of mangroves in the ejido of San Crisanto, in the state of Yucatan in southeastern Mexico / Credit: Emilio Godoy.

Chapter 7: A resident of Bandengan subdistrict in Pekalongan City, Indonesia fetches water at a communal collection facility / Credit: Isnawati for

Chapter 8: Aerial view of the city of Santos, coast of São Paulo, Brazil. Most of the population lives on the island of São Vicente, and on the hill, the most vulnerable populations are subject to landslides / Credit: Anderson Bianchi.

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