Managed Retreat Toolkit


Crosscutting Policy Considerations

Although the specific form of managed retreat strategies will vary based on local need and context, coastal governments and communities will nonetheless face many of the same issues, such as funding, impacts on coastal ecosystems, community engagement and equity, and the challenges for “receiving” communities (those that take in others moving away from coasts and other flood-prone areas). Building on the policy tradeoffs analyzed for each tool, this section presents four “crosscutting” policy considerations that will affect the development of most, if not all, managed retreat strategies that follow a comprehensive approach.

This section provides a deeper dive into the following four topics.

Economic: Funding

Most managed retreat strategies will require funding — particularly those involving acquisitions, environmental conservation and restoration, and affordable housing and infrastructure investments in receiving communities. This section identifies several federal, state, and local funding sources and their potential applications. Historically, governments have predominantly relied on federal, post-disaster recovery funding opportunities to buy out vulnerable properties. As governments comprehensively implement a more diverse suite of tools, increased types and amounts of funding across all levels of government must be leveraged.

Environmental: Wetlands Migration

Coastal ecosystems, like wetlands and forests, provide myriad economic, environmental, and social benefits for communities, habitats, and natural resources. These important benefits will be diminished and possibly lost if coastal ecosystems are unable to either adapt in place or adapt by migrating inland in response to rising seas. This section proposes ways that policymakers can better conserve, protect, and restore these ecosystems as one part of comprehensive managed retreat strategies.

Social/Equity: Community Engagement and Equity

While managed retreat tools and strategies will vary based on local context, one crosscutting element is critical: these decisions must be community-based, -driven, and -supported. This section suggests ways that state and local governments can design and implement equitable community engagement and adaptation approaches. This will be particularly important for the development of laws and policies affecting frontline communities in both coastal and “receiving” areas.

Social/Equity: Receiving Communities

Working with communities to facilitate voluntary transitions away from vulnerable coastal areas is only one side of the managed retreat coin. “Receiving communities” — or “receiving areas” — is the broad term used to refer to locations where people may be relocating in response to coastal hazards and climate impacts. This section puts forward a broad definition of this term and proposes ways policymakers can plan for and make proactive investments in areas anticipated to become future receiving communities to enhance social, economic, and risk reduction outcomes.

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