The Washington Coastal Resilience Project: Preparing Washington State, USA communities for the future of climate change

18:00 Tuesday 28 May




Katrina Radach (United States of America) 1; Jackson Blalock (United States of America) 1; Molly Bogeberg (United States of America) 1; Bridget Trosin (United States of America) 2

1 - The Nature Conservancy; 2 - Washington Sea Grant

With over 3,000 miles (4,800 km) of coastline at an elevation within three feet of high tide, Washington State’s shorelines and communities are vulnerable to the impacts of storm surge, waves, shoreline erosion, and sea level rise. In an effort to increase Washington’s coastal communities’ resilience to climate change, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) partnered with state-level environmental regulatory agencies, federal science agencies, local jurisdictions, and universities to form the Washington Coastal Resilience Project (WCRP).

The WCRP focuses on the following four objectives:

  1. filling critical information gaps and improving the communication of risk about coastal hazards and climate impacts,
  2. increasing the capacity of already established resilience programs by updating planning guidance and capital funding criteria,
  3. enhancing the resilience of targeted communities by incorporating improved science into local planning projects, and
  4. employing targeted and strategic outreach to Washington’s coastal communities.

TNC led the fourth objective by building a community of resilience ambassadors. After meeting with existing stakeholder groups on the Washington Coast to get feedback on community needs, resilience ambassadors were identified in three categories: past, present, and future. Past resilience ambassadors were people who had completed a coastal adaptation project. Present resilience ambassadors were engaged citizens on the leading edge of adaptation. Future resilience ambassadors were high school teachers who were training adaptation leaders of the future. The aim of the program was to work with resilience ambassadors to build a tool-kit that would allow them to assist in the dissemination of information developed in objectives 1-3.

The WCRP exemplifies translational science, an emerging field which sees scientists and planners engage with decision makers and stakeholders to identify solutions that are socially acceptable and politically practicable. As climate change and SLR continues to threaten coastal communities, programs such as the WCRP can help create more resilient communities. The tools, methods, projects, and lessons learned developed by the WCRP can be translated to other coastal communities around the world.