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SWIM Joins Rise to Resilience Coalition

Updated: Apr 21, 2021

SWIM has joined the NY/NJ Rise to Resilience Coalition

8 years after hurricane Sandy, our region remains unprepared for the impacts of climate change on coastal and vulnerable communities in New York and New Jersey. Climate change is happening now. One million people in our region are at risk from flooding today. It’s time for a comprehensive regional strategy that focuses on a suite of solutions that support an equitable, just, green and transparent transition in our coastal zones.

The Rise to Resilience (R2R) Coalition is a diverse group of residents, leaders in business, labor community, justice groups, volunteer organizations, scientists, environmental advocates, and design professionals in New York and New Jersey who are collectively calling on our federal, state, and local governments to make building climate resilience an urgent priority in 2020 and beyond.

Over the past two years, a committee of leaders from NY and NJ have worked together to form a roadmap for climate resilience in our region. Here is a link to a report that outlines how we came together and the process that has informed our goals and actions. And here is a link to a City Limits article about the coalition, our platform, and the climate change challenges we face in our region.

Per a recent article in the Waterfront Alliance blog, Waterwire, “Rise to Resilience is advocating for policy changes that will usher in better physical and social resilience, green jobs, transparent information-sharing, robust community planning and science-based adaptation strategies.”

Communities hit hardest by our region’s environmental disasters are the same social and environmental justice communities that have been unfairly burdened time and time again by our historical disinvestment and oppressive social, political, health, legal and economic systems ( just to name a few!). As we call for climate resiliency strategies and policies for our region, we must develop them through a lens of social justice.

As noted at a recent Rise to Resilience Town Hall meeting on the impacts on our communities from the COVID -19 pandemic and climate change, Priya Mulgaonkar, resilience planner for the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, really said it best in her comments about the intersection of the current pandemic and climate crisis, “This is a moment of crisis and also a moment of opportunity. Now is the time to shift. We have to respond to this economic and public health disaster in an environmentally responsible way,”

Climate policies are still in their infancy today so there is an opportunity to get these right as we move forward in our region. The Rise to Resilience Coalition offers a united voice and platform for civil society to have our say and catalyze a productive, just, green and inclusive climate resilience strategy; one that keeps all communities in our region safe from the impacts of climate change.

Some of the policies we are calling for are listed below. For more information about the Rise to Resilience Coalition and to sign up for news about our progress please visit the R2R website here.

1. An interstate Regional Climate Resilience Council to ensure our response to the climate crisis is a unified, coordinated, and people focused effort.

2. Enforceable flood risk disclosure laws in New York and New Jersey

NY and NJ have some of the worst disclosure laws in the country.

3. Strengthen the NYC City Council’s Intro 1620 (5 - Borough Coastal Resilience Plan) with robust public input and build on it to develop a framework for a well-funded, just and equitable citywide resilience strategy.

Intro 1620 aims to address the many needs of NYC’s 500-mile coastline. More than half-a-million New Yorkers live near the water — from the Atlantic Ocean to the Hudson River — and are at severe risk as sea level rise, extreme heat, and other threats from the climate crisis batter our shores. While storm surge is a serious threat when a hurricane hits, there are constant risks on a daily basis, from beach erosion to sunny day flooding. Speaker Corey Johnson has added this to the Council’s list of environmental priorities, but the administration has not embraced the proposal.

4. Reinstate and improve the Army Corps of Engineers Study for NY/NJ Harbor and Tributaries Storm Risk Study.

The Trump administration, in February 2020, cancelled funding to this key study, which was assessing ways to protect New York City from confounding storm surge similar to what we saw during Sandy. While local leaders and advocates have had issues with the study, we had recently made headway to ensure that it included factors such as sea level rise in its assessment and to develop a more equitable and participatory process in the development of any recommendations included in the study. A draft report was due this spring, but will not move forward now that the Trump administration has pulled the funding — effectively ending the historic project. For more information about the study click here.

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