Rise to Resilience - Our Communities Our Future: Policies and Investments for a Climate-Resilient New York and New Jersey

The Rise to Resilience Report (R2R), developed in May 2020 by the Waterfront Alliance, provides “actionable recommendations” for policymakers at federal, state, and local levels to create more flood-resilient communities in New York and New Jersey in a transparent and equitable manner. The report establishes a vision for a climate-resilient New York and New Jersey: “A resilient future is well-managed and funded in a manner that is transparent, just and green.”

Consistent with this vision, the R2R report contains five thematic chapters:

  1. Managed - Governance is Adapted to a Changing Climate
  2. Funded - Funding Mechanisms are in Place and Prioritize Frontline Communities and Co-benefits
  3. Transparent - Residents are Informed by Science and Clear Messaging
  4. Equitable and Just - Frontline Communities are Empowered
  5. Green - Support Green Jobs, Nature, and Health

Within each of these chapters, the report identifies goals and detailed actions -- recommendations for policy and investment reforms within New York, New Jersey, local governments, and at the federal level. While the report focuses mainly on increasing resilience to flood risks in New York and New Jersey, it also addresses reducing risks from urban heat stress.

Specific recommendations to reduce flood risks include, for example:

  • Regional Measures:
    • Establishing an interstate Regional Climate Resilience Council.
    • Passing enforceable flood disclosure laws in both states. The R2R report states that NY and NJ have weak flood disclosure requirements.
  • New York State Measures:
    • Enacting stronger flood protection measures through the Community Risk & Resiliency Act, which, among other things, commits the state to incorporating sea level rise and coastal risks in certain decisionmaking processes.
    • Incorporating resilient designs and processes into all infrastructure design and capital projects. This can include new construction, as well as significant retrofits. The report notes there are guidelines on resilient design being developed similar to LEED guidelines on energy efficiency.
    • Using $3 billion from the NY State 2020 Environmental Bond Act for long term funding for resilience investments.
  • New Jersey Measures:
    • Directing COVID-19 stimulus funds to green workforce development programs, affordable housing, and resilient infrastructure.
    • Ensuring that implementation of the state’s Executive Orders 89 (Climate Resilience Strategy) and 100 (Protecting Against Climate Threats) is effective at incorporating climate resilience into state policies.
    • Amending municipal land use laws to require that all municipal master plans include climate vulnerability assessments and resilience measures.
  • National Measures:
    • Reauthorizing and reforming the National Flood Insurance Program for the next five years, improving its applicability to urban areas, and enhancing requirements to disclose flood risks.
    • Directing COVID-19 stimulus funds to workforce development and green infrastructure.

The report also addresses how to reduce urban heat stress risks. For example, R2R calls for investments in air conditioning in public housing and cooling centers to help protect residents from heat stress; the use of green infrastructure (which can also reduce flooding) and reflective surfaces to help mitigate the urban heat island effect; and the use of peak energy management to reduce the likelihood of brownouts during heat waves.

The report is a product of the Resilience Task Force, which was convened in 2019 by the Waterfront Alliance and is comprised of over 400 individuals from New York state and New Jersey representing environmental, community (grassroots), and research organizations and businesses.

Publication Date: July 2020

Related Organizations:

  • Waterfront Alliance


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Policy analysis/recommendations

States Affected:


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