When Rising Seas Transform Risk Into Certainty

Source: The New York Times Magazine. By Brooke Jarvis

Along parts of the USA East Coast, the entire system of
insuring coastal property is beginning to break down.

Two houses, one raised with a garage, the other with a higher foundation, sandwich a student rental property with a first-floor elevation below the flooding safe zone in Norfolk, Va. Credit Benjamin Lowy for The New York Times

Flooding is the most common, and most expensive, natural disaster in the United States. Private insurers have long declined to cover it, leaving the government on the hook for disaster assistance after floods. (Hence the famous lawsuits after Hurricane Katrina, when people who came home to empty slabs were asked to prove that their losses were a result of wind and not waves.) Congress created the N.F.I.P. in the late 1960s in response to a series of expensive floods caused by hurricanes and overflowing rivers. It offers insurance coverage, some of it subsidized, to communities that meet floodplain-management requirements; requires people who want loans to buy houses in dangerous places to buy it; and also provides grants for mitigation projects meant to reduce flooding damage, like elevating houses or buying out the owners of flood-prone homes. Private insurers including Farmers, Allstate and 68 other companies also sell and administer the policy on the government’s behalf — and take a sizable cut of the premium. If floods do come, though, it’s still the government that’s on the hook.

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The Basque Declaration & New Pathways for European Cities and Towns to Create Productive, Sustainable and Resilient Cities


The Basque Declaration is now open for endorsement

Whether you represent a city or an organisation, or you are a citizen concerned about sustainable development and the future of our urban areas, you can now endorse the Basque Declaration, which outlines new pathways to create productive, sustainable and resilient cities and towns for a liveable and inclusive Europe.

The Basque Declaration, acclaimed by the participants of the 8th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns held in the Basque Country from 27-29 April 2016, is an important step following the Aalborg Charter (1994) and the Aalborg Commitments (2004).

The Basque Declaration aims to create stable and productive cities and towns and a good quality of life for citizens. It highlights the necessity and desire of local leaders to think outside the box and find innovative ways to economically and socially engage with civil society in order to meet economic, environmental and social challenges.

A total of 15 pathways across three categories – socio-cultural transformation, socio-economic transformation and technological transformation – are at the heart of the Basque Declaration. They aim to inspire transformative actions from local authorities, organisations and individuals.

If your city is interested in endorsing the Basque Declaration as pathways to push transformation from the local level, or if your organisation supports the 15 pathways in the Basque Declaration to co-create more productive, sustainable and resilient cities, or if you, as a citizen, agree on the need for a technological, socio-economic and socio-cultural transformation of our societies, we encourage you to endorse the Basque Declaration.