Plan for the 21st Century - New Orleans 2030 (City of New Orleans, Louisiana Master Plan)

New Orleans, Louisiana’s “Plan for the 21st Century,” also referred to as the Master Plan, is a City Charter-mandated planning framework for New Orleans’ physical, social, environmental, and economic future. Sponsored by the City Planning Commission, the Master Plan is New Orleans' primary policy and planning document, intended to guide the city’s growth for the next 20 years. The Master Plan has proposed climate adaptation related measures represented across many sectors, and contains a chapter dedicated to Green Infrastructure, and another to Resilience.

Regarding resilience, the Master Plan focuses especially on storm and flood hazards, as the most significant facing New Orleans. It builds on the work of the Flood Protection Alliance, advisors from the Netherlands, and local experts to develop multiple, complementary strategies for flooding. The plan recommends beginning with adoption of a more stringent resilience standard of withstanding 1-in-500-year and eventually 1-in-1,000-year storms (the current goal is a 1-in-100-year event).

The Master Plan outlines specific non-structural strategies under the city’s active control for meeting higher standards, including:

- creation of water-retention areas throughout the city;
- elevation of structures above anticipated 1-in-500-year flood heights; and
- hardening critical infrastructure against the most severe storms.

The plan also recommends:

- a polder system of secondary, internal levees to further mitigate potential flood damage;
- restoring and expanding coastal wetlands as a critical, long-term, part of the solution;
- and for New Orleans to approach flood protection as an integrated system rather than a series of individual projects. 

The Master Plan has three volumes: Executive Summary; Strategies and Actions; and Context and Appendix. The Executive Summary provides a brief overview of the planning process combined with matrices of the goals, strategies and actions in each chapter of the plan. Volume 2 focuses on narrative explanations, by topic, of the strategies and actions recommended to achieve the plan’s goals. In Volume 3, the Context section contains analysis by topic of current conditions and trends, as well as brief reviews of what the public said in previous plans and the master plan process about the issues in each chapter.

The report’s Sustainability Vision for New Orleans in 2030 describes clearly adaptive goals: “New Orleans has become one of America’s greenest cities: resource-efficient, environmentally healthy, and resilient. The city’s building and zoning codes are national models for preservation and sustainability. The city’s success has drawn new regional growth into enhanced neighborhoods from Audubon to a thriving New Orleans East, reversing regional sprawl. A global center of knowledge about managing natural and man-made systems to prevent flooding in low-lying cities, the city now boasts landscaped canals, parks with water features, and shady, tree-lined streets that contribute to its unique beauty while reducing subsidence and managing water from storms.”

Publication Date: August 12, 2010

Related Organizations:

  • New Orleans City Planning Commission
  • City of New Orleans, Louisiana


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Plans (other)

States Affected:


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