Research

Toward the Next Century: Envisioning and Designing Sustainable Coastal Communities

Screenshot from the CoPe video

Toward the Next Century: Envisioning & Designing Sustainable Coastal Communities summarizes the results of the Coastlines and People project, funded through the National Science Foundation. The project was a partnership between staff and researchers from the University of Southern Maine's Maine North Atlantic Initiative and the University of New Hampshire.

Researchers convened visionaries from a broad range of communities and scientific sectors to dialogue about the future of our New England coastlines and the people that live there. Many communities have developed climate adaptation plans that focus on short to midterm timelines. Through discussion and interviews, participants were asked to broaden their view to the next hundred years and envision the future they would like to see.

A committee of community organizations focused on climate adaptation gathered to discuss ideas, share information, and determine how the project could best contribute to the current needs of coastal adaptation for communities in northern New England. These practitioners realize that communities are at various stages of coastal adaptation. Some communities are aware of environmental and socio-economic changes, have developed comprehensive climate action plans, and are in the process of developing and providing specific guidance to homeowners and businesses. Smaller and more remote communities in contrast often lack the capacity and resources to devote to climate and coastal adaptation planning.

Through online focus groups, surveys, and interviews, the Coastlines and People project identified the need for communities to:

  • Bring century-scale visioning into present-day planning
  • Better understand the links between regional and global scale processes, including implications of an ice-free summertime Arctic
  • Hold positive and pro-active local discussions of adaptation strategies while simultaneously supporting economic growth
  • Build “bridges to bridges,” linking emerging localized efforts at varying stages of coastal adaptation around the Gulf of Maine