Resilient Coastal Communities Project

The Resilient Coastal Communities Project seeks to foster actionable, equitable solutions to flood risks along with complementary benefits like habitat restoration, job creation and more empowered communities.

The urgent need to address the growing risk of storm- and sea level rise-driven flooding, locally and around the world, led the Climate School to make coastal resilience one of its first four transdisciplinary initiatives. Here in the New York metropolitan area, this initiative will be served by a new Resilient Coastal Communities Project (RCCP), under the auspices of the Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CSUD), working in partnership with the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. The RCCP’s principal goal will be to foster new collaborations between practitioners and researchers, as envisioned in Columbia’s Task Force Report on Directed Action, to help develop actionable, fundable, and equitable solutions to flood risks that also deliver complementary benefits, like habitat restoration, job creation and greater community cohesion and help maintain the Climate School’s commitment to fairness, social justice - and anti-racism

The RCCP aims to address the challenges of coastal resilience through a combination of iterative engaged scientific research, community engagement and innovation; academic and clinical support for enhanced community participation in public planning; communications initiatives to build public awareness and support effective action; classroom instruction; and workshops, conferences & other convenings. 

In short, the job of the Resilient Coastal Communities Project is to support learning and foster effective solutions, developed in partnership with frontline communities, governments and other stakeholders, to climate-related threats.

Resilient Coastal Communities Project - March 2024 Project Update

Resilient Coastal Communities Project: Executive Summary, initial Project Team and Advisory Board

More Information can be found at The Resilient Coastal Communities Project (CSUD)

Contact: Paul Gallay, Project Director [email protected] Cell: 914-574-7331

News and Publications 

Project Report: Resilient Coastal Communities Project Update - February 2024 

Working Paper: Designing Community-led Plans to Strengthen Social Cohesion: What Neighborhoods Facing Climate-driven Flood Risks Want From Resilience Planning

Working Paper (Español): Diseñando Planes Dirigido por la Comunidad para Reforzar Cohesión Social: Lo que los Vecindarios que Enfrentan Riesgos de Inundación Impulsados por el Clima Quieren de la Planificación de la Resiliencia

Working Paper: Opportunity For Improvement: What Participants in NYC’s Climate Knowledge Exchange Seek from the City to Help Foster Resiliency

Presentation: Towards A Justice-Oriented Engagement Strategy For The New York-New Jersey "Harbor and Tributary" Coastal Resilience Study

Paper: Horizontal & Urban-scale Coalitions to Address The Wicked Problem of Coastal Adaptation 

Curriculum Guide: Coastal Resiliency Unit Planner (High School Earth and Space Studies)

Blog: Teaming Up for Coastal Resilience and Climate Justice in NYC

Blog: Resilient Coastal Communities and Climate Adaptation: Lessons from New York for New Zealand

Contribution: ICSI UN Convening: Accelerating Implementation of Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience in Infrastructure.

New York City Council, Committee on Waterfronts: RCCP Testimony on Nature-Based Solutions to Coastal Flooding Risks (December 1, 2022). 

Statement: Advocates Celebrate Breakthrough in Campaign to Overhaul Flawed Army Corps Flooding Plan for NY-NJ Harbor (November 13, 2023)

Sponsored Conferences, Convenings and Projects

Co-Sponsored Conference: BIPOC Climate Justice Dialogues III. September 15, 2023. Featured Panel: Rethinking Higher Education's Role in Advancing Transformational Climate Justice. Full Agenda here.

Briefing and Discussion of Opportunities to Collaborate In Support of the US Army Corps of Engineers' NY-NJ Harbor and Tributaries Coastal Resilience Study (NY-NJHATS). November 18, 2022. Agenda and participants here.

Co-Sponsored Conference: SANDY+10 - RESILIENCE, EQUITY, CLIMATE JUSTICE. October 28, 2022. Featured Panel: Are Neighborhoods More Resilient Today?

Environmental and Climate Justice at Columbia Project. Featuring 32 Columbia research leaders, instructors and administrators committed to Advancing Transformational Environmental and Climate Justice at Columbia and supported by a Catalyst/Initiator Grant from the Office of the Provost, Columbia University (Project Proposal here).

Other Conference Presentations

Fordham University - International Conference on Social and Environmental Justice Conference Program May 1-2, 2023                                                                                                                   

Columbia University - At What Point Managed Retreat?: Habitability and Mobility in an Era of Climate Change June 20-23

United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction ("Sendai") Framework Midterm Review (ICSI Roundtable) - May 17, 2023

Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning - 2023 Annual Conference, October 19 - 21, 2023

The Resilient Coastal Communities Team 

The Resilient Coastal Communities Project brings together a distinguished interdisciplinary team with a track record of engaged research and advocacy, informed by a deep commitment  to environmental and climate justice. RCCP is a partnership between the Columbia Climate School and the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. Our core team is:

Bernadette Baird-Zars, Post-doctoral Research Scholar at Columbia World Projects

Paul Gallay, Project Leader &  Senior Research Associate, Center for Sustainable Urban Development.  Faculty member, Undergraduate Program in Sustainable  Development. 

Annel Hernandez, Lecturer in International and Public  Affairs, Columbia School of International and Public Affairs. 

Jacqueline M Klopp, Director, Center for Sustainable  Urban Development (CSUD) Faculty member, Undergraduate Program in Sustainable  Development. 

Eunice Ko, Deputy Director, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance

Victoria Sanders, Research Analyst, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance

Ariam Torres Cordero, Assistant Professor of Planning, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras

Hugo Sarmiento, Assistant Professor, Urban Planning Program, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

Kyle WireResearch Associate, Urban Planner 

Robert Rosso, Graduate Student Research Associate

Shagun Kar, Graduate Student Research Associate

Erin Cooper, Student Research Associate


Advisory Board 

Erica Avrami,  James Marston Fitch  Assistant Professor  of Historic Preservation,  Columbia Graduate School of  Architecture, Planning  and Preservation (GSAPP). 

Jacqueline Austermann,  Assistant Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (DEES).

Christian V. Braneon, Co-Director, Environmental Justice/Climate Just Cities  Network. 

Elizabeth CookAssistant Professor in Environmental Science, Barnard College.

Michael Gerrard,  Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional  Practice, Columbia Law  School. 

Joachim Goes,  Lamont Research Professor, LDEO.

Karenna Gore,  Founder and Executive Director, Center for Earth Ethics, Union Theological Seminary. 

Radley Horton, Lamont Research Professor, LDEO. Faculty member, Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development. 

Klaus Jacob, Special Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty  Earth Observatory (LDEO). 

Joyce Klein-Rosenthal, CSUD adviser. Faculty member, Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development. 

Nilda Mesa,  Director, Urban Sustainability and Equity  Planning Program, CSUD. 

Walter Meyer, Principal Urban Designer, Local Office  Landscape  Architects. 

Melissa Miles, Executive Director, New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance

Kate Orff,  Professor & Director, Urban Design Program, GSAPP. Faculty Director, Center for Resilient Cities & Landscapes, GSAPP. 

Thaddeus Pawlowski,  Managing Director, Center for Resilient Cities & Landscapes, GSAPP. 

Dorothy Peteet, Adjunct Senior Research Scientist, LDEO. Adjunct Professor, DEES. 

Maureen E. Raymo,  Co-Founding Dean, Columbia Climate  School  (CCS).  Director, LDEO. 

Andrew Revkin, Director, Initiative on Communication Innovation and Impact, CCS. 

John Scialdone, Senior Staff Associate, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). 

Adam Sobel, Professor of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics and of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia School of Engineering. 

Melissa Tier, PhD Candidate, Princeton School of Public & International Affairs.

Margie Turrin, Senior Staff Associate, LDEO. 

Judith S. Weis, Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences, Rutgers University.

Beizhan Yan,  Lamont Associate Research Professor, LDEO. 

Dan Zarrilli, Special Advisor on Climate and Sustainability, Columbia University.



Hannah Su-An Lin, Graduate Research Assistant, Masters in Climate and Society, Columbia Climate School

Aya Morris, Fulbright Visiting Student Researcher, Massey University.

Lexi Scanlon, Graduate Research Assistant, Masters in Climate and Society, Columbia Climate School

Partners and Supporters 

The Resilient Coastal Communities Project seeks to unite what are now very disparate efforts to foster better coastal resilience planning through a more collaborative approach to research, curriculum, policymaking and project development.  Of central importance to any such work is a more successful and intentional approach to community empowerment, equity, inclusion and justice.   As such, strong, catalytic partnerships with and support from the following NGOs, whose core missions relate directly to healthy waterfront communities and ecosystems, is essential to the success of this project. 

With Thanks to RCCP’s Funders

  • Dextra Baldwin McGonagle Foundation
  • Donald C. Brace Foundation
  • LE4 Foundation
  • Columbia Climate School
  • Sanjya Tidke