Building resilient cities to withstand severe storms

Projects that work to create a dynamic interface between built and natural buffers are needed worldwide, requiring a multi-disciplinary approach with many organizations involved as well as the political leadership and will to create more resilient cities, coastlines, and agricultural areas.


Large metropolitan cities, such as London and New York are still struggling to protect themselves from storm surges, severe flooding, and sea-level rise. Hard structures, such as sea walls are effective barriers, but have high costs and can cause have detrimental impacts to the environment. Over the past decade, many cities and urban regions have largely focused on the widening and dredging of riverbeds to allow the water to flow downstream, however, many are now suggesting other alternatives. Natural buffers, such as tidal marshes, coastal wetlands, barrier islands and other natural ecosystems can provide protection against sea-level rise.

By 2050 the frequency of severe flooding across Europe is expected to double, causing potentially a five-fold increase in annual economic losses due to flood damage. Climate change and increase in rainfall are expected to result in a third of the losses, while properties and infrastructure lying in flood prone areas account for the rest.

Experts from environmental and planning organizations in the UK, including ecologists, landscape architects, engineers and hydrologists have asked the government to address flooding by creating a flood defense policy for the future. According to one environmental professional, “water management techniques could have helped prevent the effects of flooding on villages, towns and over surrounding land seen recently.

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