Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Extreme winds from Hurricane Andrew drives wood straight through a queen palm tree. Credit: NOAA

Resilient Communities and Economies

Coastal communities in the United States provide vital economic, social and recreational opportunities for millions of Americans.  For example, in 2010 over 13.5 million people were employed in the tourism industry in coastal communities in over 750,000 business establishments, earning combined wages of $266 billion.  The total economic value generated by the U.S. coastal tourism industry in 2010 was estimated at $531 billion.  However, decades of population migration have transformed many natural coastal habitats into urban landscapes and intensified the use of finite coastal resources.  Between 1970 and 2010, the population of U.S. coastal watersheds has increased by 45 percent to a total of 164 million, or 52 percent of the nation's population.  This population increase has resulted in greater vulnerability of coastal communities and environments to natural and technological hazards.  To accommodate more people and activity while balancing demands on coastal resources, our nation must develop innovative policies, institutional capacities and management approaches to increase community resilience. 

Bolivar Penninsula after Hurricane Ike. Credit: NOAA

Sea Grant will continue to support cutting-edge research in the areas of marine-related energy sources, climate change, coastal processes, energy efficiency, hazards, storm water management and tourism. Sea Grant programs will engage our diverse and growing coastal populations in applying the best-available scientific knowledge to address increased resource demands and vulnerability.  Ultimately, Sea Grant will bring its unique research and engagement capabilities to support the development of resilient coastal communities that sustain diverse and vibrant economies, effectively respond to and mitigate natural and technological hazards and function within the limits of their ecosystem.

Search the National Sea Grant Resilience Toolkit for Sea Grant tools that help communities become more resilient.

Resilient Communities and Economies Goals as defined by the 2014-2017 Strategic Plan

Click on the headers below for details 

GOAL 1: Development of vibrant and resilient coastal economies

Learning Outcomes

  • Communities  are aware of the interdependence between the health of the economy and the health of the natural and cultural systems.
  • Communities have access to information needed to understand the value of waterfront- and tourism-related economic activities.
  • Communities understand the strengths and weaknesses of alternative development scenarios on resource consumption and local economies.
  • Communities are aware of regulatory regimes affecting economic sustainability.
  • Communities are knowledgeable about economic savings from energy planning and conservation.

Action Outcomes

  • Citizens are actively engaged in management and regulatory decisions.
  • Communities engage in economic development initiatives that capitalize on the value of their natural and cultural resources while balancing resource conservation and economic growth.

Consequence Outcomes

  • Communities have diverse, healthy economies and industries without displacing traditional working waterfronts.

GOAL 2: Communities use comprehensive planning to make informed strategic decisions.

Learning Outcomes

  • Communities understand the connection between planning and natural resource management issues and make management decisions that minimize conflicts, improve resource conservation efforts and identify potential opportunities.

Action Outcomes

  • Communities make use of tools and information to explore the different patterns of coastal development, including community visioning exercises, resource inventories and coastal planning.
  • Communities adopt coastal plans.
  • The public, leaders and businesses work together to implement plans for the future and to balance multiple uses of coastal areas.

Consequence Outcomes

  • Quality of life in communities, as measured by economic and social well-being, improves without adversely affecting environmental conditions.

GOAL 3: Improvements in coastal water resources sustain human health and ecosystem services.

Learning Outcomes

  • Communities are aware of the impact of human activities on water quality and supply.
  • Communities understand the value of clean water, adequate supplies and healthy watersheds.
  • Communities understand water laws and policies affecting the use and allocation of water resources.

Action Outcomes

  • Communities engage in planning efforts to protect water supplies and improve water quality.
  • Communities adopt mitigation measures, best management practices and improved site designs in local policies and ordinances to address water supplies and water quality.

Consequence Outcomes

  • Water supplies are sustained.
  • Water quality improves.

GOAL 4: Resilient coastal communities adapt to the impacts of hazards and climate change.

Learning Outcomes

  • Residents and decision-makers are aware of and understand the processes that produce hazards and climate change and the implications of those processes for them and their communities.
  • Decision-makers are aware of existing and available hazard- and climate-related data and resources and have access to information and skills to assess local risk vulnerability.
  • Communities have access to data and innovative and adaptive tools and techniques to minimize the potential negative impact from hazards.
  • Decision-makers understand the legal and regulatory regimes affecting adaptation to climate change, including coastal and riparian property rights, disaster relief and insurance issues.

Action Outcomes

  • Communities apply best available hazards and climate change information, tools and technologies in the planning process.
  • Decision-makers apply data, guidance, policies and regulations to hazard planning and recovery efforts.
  • Communities develop and adopt comprehensive hazard mitigation and adaptation strategies suited to local needs.
  • Residents take action to reduce the impact of coastal hazards on their life and property.
  • Communities adopt a comprehensive risk communications strategy for hazardous events.

Consequence Outcomes

  • Communities effectively prepare hazardous events and climate change.
  • Communities are resilient and experience minimum disruption to life and economy following hazard events.

Resilient Communities and Economies Performance Measures

- Number of communities that implemented sustainable economic and environmental development practices and policies as a result of Sea Grant activities.

- Number of communities that implemented hazard resiliency practices to prepare for, respond to or minimize coastal hazardous events as a result of Sea Grant activities.

Cross-Cutting Performance Measures

- Number of Sea Grant tools, technologies and information services that are used by our partners/customers to improve ecosystem-based management.

- Economic (market and non-market; jobs and businesses created or retained) impacts derived from Sea Grant activities.

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