As sea levels rise and catastrophic disasters become more frequent, coastal states are searching for ways to keep their communities safe and economies afloat. These strategies fall under the general umbrella term “resilience,” or the capacity of states to withstand, respond to, and bounce back from hazards. And as the science of resilience changes, so too do states’ coastal management strategies.
Resilience practitioners now recognize that a community’s ability to prepare for and recover from disasters depends as much on social factors as physical barriers. One hallmark of this transition is the increased focus of states’ coastal management programs (CMPs) on improving “community resilience.” A consensus definition of “community resilience” is now emerging that focuses on discrete social indicators of vulnerability, including income inequality, unemployment, disability, and English language proficiency. This transition brings coastal managers into a new programmatic realm that could significantly expand the types of activities states include in their CMPs.
In my new white paper, I explore to what extent the Coastal Zone Management Act permits states to integrate community resilience activities into their CMPs, and what this means for states seeking to integrate broader principles of equity and inclusion into those programs.