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We need to talk about adaptation

Writing in The Hill last year Dr Carolyn Kousky called on President Biden to launch an Ecosystem Restoration Corps. The Executive Director of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania made the rallying call in response to the UN’s declaration that 2021-2030 must be the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration; and because natural habitats in her homeland are in a perilous state.

Dr Kousky joins me as my guest today on Inside Ideas, along with Dr Billy Fleming. We talk about the idea for the corps and the recently released book the pair edited, along with Alan M. Berger: A Blueprint for Coastal Adaptation: Uniting Design, Economics, and Policy. Which lays out a bold new research and policy agenda for coastal adaptation providing implementable options for coastal communities. 

Throughout the book, coastal adaptation experts discuss the interrelated challenges facing communities experiencing sea level rise and increasing storm impacts. These issues extend far beyond land use planning into areas including insurance, housing policy, financing for public infrastructure, and fostering healthier coastal ecosystems.

Deftly addressing far-reaching problems, from changes in drinking water composition to cleaning up contaminated, abandoned sites, the chapters give a clear-eyed view of how we can still chart a course to create thriving coastal communities. From Jamaica Bay, New York, to Buras, Louisiana, the book draws lessons from communities to present equitable solutions to coastal adaptation issues, including reducing flood risk and improving coastal resilience. 

A Blueprint for Coastal Adaptation offers a range of climate adaptation policies that can protect coastal communities against increasing risk, while preserving the economic value of these locations, their natural environments, and their community and cultural values. It provides tools for evaluating necessary tradeoffs to think more comprehensively about the future of our coastal communities. 

Dr Carolyn Kousky

Carolyn is Executive Director at the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also directs the Policy Incubator.  Carolyn research examines multiple aspects of disaster insurance markets, disaster finance, climate risk management, and policy approaches for increasing resilience. She has published numerous articles, reports, and book chapters on the economics and policy of climate risk and disaster insurance markets, and is routinely cited in media outlets including NPR, The New York Times, and The Financial Times, among many others. She is the recipient of the 2013 Tartufari International Prize from the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. She is the vice-chair of the California Climate Insurance Working Group, a university fellow at Resources for the Future, a non-resident scholar at the Insurance Information Institute, and a member of the Roundtable on Risk and Resilience of Extreme Events at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. She has a BS in Earth Systems from Stanford University and a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University.

Dr Billy Fleming

Billy Fleming is the Wilks Family Director of the Ian L. McHarg Center in the Weitzman School of Design, a senior fellow with Data for Progress, and co-director of the “climate + community project.” His fellowship with Data for Progress has focused on the built environment impacts of climate change, and resulted most prominently in the publication of low-carbon public housing policy briefs tied to the “Green New Deal for Public Housing Act” introduced in 2019. In his role at the McHarg Center, Billy is co-editor of the forthcoming book An Adaptation Blueprint (Island Press, 2020), co-editor and co-curator of the book and now internationally-traveling exhibit Design With Nature Now (Lincoln, 2019), and author of the forthcoming Drowning America: The Nature and Politics of Adaptation (Penn Press, expected 2021). Billy is also the lead author of the recently published and widely acclaimed “The 2100 Project: An Atlas for the Green New Deal.” He is also a co-author of the Indivisible Guide (2016).

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Written By

Marc is Editor-at-Large for Innovators Magazine and host of INSIDE IDEAS, his OnePoint5Media video podcast show. Marc is a member of the World Economic Forum Expert Network, Resilient Futurist, and award-winning Global Food Reformist.


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