Embracing Strategic Retreat

Over the last decade, resilience has emerged as an important movement in urban planning, and New York City’s multiple disasters and crises—from September 11 to Superstorm Sandy—have raised awareness in one of the world’s economic, media and cultural hubs. But cracks in the veneer of certainty around resilience thinking are starting to show as experts explore the need to consider more drastic measures. “Strategic retreat” may offer a more viable long-term way to cope with climate change than defending coastal cities from rising seas.

This essay, “Our Inevitable Retreat”, commissioned by the New Cities Foundation, explores the rise and fall of resilience thinking, and the prospects for strategic retreat from coastal cities through the personal experience of Star City Group’s Anthony Townsend, a putative climate refugee himself—and his relocation from Sandy-inundated Hoboken to the nearby neighborhood of Jersey City Heights.

Read at New Cities Foundation.

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