Climate Disaster Risk Reduction & Managed Retreat, Part Two

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In the second half of this two-part interview for our CleanTech Talk podcast interview series, Michael Barnard, Chief Strategist of TFIE Strategy Inc. and CleanTechnica contributor, and Anna Ziolecki and Brent Doberstein from the University of Waterloo, continue their talk about disaster risk reduction and managed retreat. You can listen to the full conversation in the embedded player below. Below that embedded SoundCloud player is a brief summary of the topics covered, but tune in to the podcast to follow the full discussion.

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Mike launches the second half of this podcast by diving into buyouts and home value in future environments. Both Anna and Brent agree that discussions around buyouts and future risks are good opportunities to educate people on why it is so important to have a plan around flood risk and retreat. As Anna noted earlier, one of the most important determinants of a successful buyout is how much the community is engaged and therefore these discussions are opportunities to engage about price points and the entire managed retreat process.

The three transition into talking about the differences between rural and urban communities. As Anna explains, these risks are very community-specific. When people are buying a property, for example, regardless of where it is, there is an important opportunity for municipalities to educate these potential homeowners on flood risks. Anna sees a need to tackle the communication piece repeatedly through different voices and types of outreach that could engage different community members.

Brent, Anna, and Mike talk through questions around retreat, how to care for the left over property and land, how much these solutions will cost, and if it is cost-effective to enforce a mandatory buyout program or allow people to opt in or out only to be spending money to maintain one or two properties of people who leave. They explore the full cost accounting for homes and communities in high hazard zones.

The three transition into a broader discussion about raising awareness and climate change communication. Mike rounds out the second half of this podcast by asking both Anna and Brent to share what they believe to be important considerations moving forward in tackling these big environmental challenges. Anna’s top-of-mind issue focuses on the need to talk to people differently about climate change in a way that is believable for them. As she explains, there is an acceptance that it is happening but there can be a disconnect when people do not really know what they can do. Collective action is important, and Anna emphasizes education around what things people can do in their homes to protect themselves and their families from risk.

Brent brings up climate change adaptation and the fact that adapting to the climate crisis will be a long process that will require working with communities over an extremely long timeframe. While some elements of potential adaptation measures may not be accepted by a community now, he explains, as we have more conversations around adaptation, these conditions might be more acceptable in the long term. Brent emphasizes the need to continue to push this sort of education and dialogue to foster long-term decision making and positive opportunities for better community change and resiliency.

To hear more about these topics, as well as some asides on naming extreme events like hurricanes, listen to the show!

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