Resilient Coastal Cities



The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society’s Global Disaster Preparedness Center (GDPC) have formed a unique and innovative partnership joining the world’s largest conservation nonprofit, with the world’s largest humanitarian organization to address the increasingly detrimental impacts from natural hazards.

Rapid population growth combined with the impacts of the changing climate pose one of the world’s greatest threats continuing to result in a staggering loss of human life and property, as well as ecosystems and livelihoods.  If not addressed, natural disasters and climate impacts will  increase community vulnerability particularly for developing countries. It is imperative to find multi-disciplinary and cost-effective solutions that cut across development, adaptation, sustainability, and disaster risk reduction goals.


TNC-GDPC Partnership Goals


This partnership builds on the unique strengths of each organization, blending TNC’s experience in science-based ecosystem conservation and restoration, with the Red Cross’s experience in community mobilization, awareness raising and education.

The goal of this partnership is to identify and advance collaborative activities that jointly build ecological and social solutions to increase the resilience of communities from natural disasters and climate impacts.


Vincent “Jegg” Clarke, Saint Lucia National Trust Volunteer Project Assistant for Conservation works on mangrove restoration and conservation in the Caribbean. Photo credit: © Tim Calver


Resilient Coastal Cities


In October 2015 the GDPC started a 5-year project supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) to prototype approaches for coalition-building, addressing increasing risk in a set of coastal cities in South East Asia and the Pacific.

The goal of  Resilient Coastal Cities is to enhance local collaboration and problem solving to support effective climate change adaption. The project also serves as a lab to develop and test guidance and models for local coalitions within the One Billion Coalition, an initiative convened by the IFRC to galvanize support for resilience-building actions by people and communities. The Coastal Cities project is being piloted initially in Indonesia and Vanuatu with roll-out to coastal cities in a wider set of countries planned for subsequent phases of the project.

This coalition-building process draws on the convening power of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, but also engages a wider set of interested stakeholders from local government, other civil society organizations, the private sector, academia, and community volunteers to identify locally developed solutions for resilience and climate change adaptation.

Lembongan Island. Photo credit: © Kevin Arnold

The Nature Conservancy has joined efforts with GDPC in the Coastal Cities project to help identify ways that nature can be a part of building social-ecological community resilience before, during, and after natural disasters.

As the project team in Indonesia and Vanuatu conduct workshops with communities and key stakeholders to discover different aspects of social-ecological resilience, through coalition building, TNC will contribute the importance of nature conservation and geospatial technology to the dialogues. The Coastal Resilience approach and tools will provide city-specific ecosystem data that can assist and guide city level planners and community members to make informed decisions for appropriate nature-based adaptation solutions, or natural infrastructure, as a critical component of disaster risk reduction. Specific objectives of TNC’s contribution to Coastal Cities include:

  1. Assessing the more common social, flood hazard and ecological tools and apps relevant to Southeast Asia
  2. Identifying relevant social-ecological data alongside hazard information to design an analysis that compares inundation from specific flood events with the presence or absence of mangroves
  3. Contributing the results of this analysis in the design resilient solutions phase of the project through training and workshops as part of the coalition-building process

This GDPC-TNC collaboration builds on existing approaches to disaster risk reduction through community assessments, problem-solving, and outreach to households and small businesses, with a focus on considering nature and natural defenses for risk reduction. Demonstrating the value of natural systems in protecting social and economic community assets relies heavily on the adoption and buy-in of key stakeholders and governments. This can begin through better integration and visualization of valuable ecosystems in the surrounding area. Improved management of these natural resources – including reefs, mangrove forests, fisheries and floodplains – will provide increased sources of sustainable food and income while protecting people and their livelihoods.

This work will contribute to TNC Indonesia’s Ecological Disaster Risk Reduction (EcoDRR) strategy. TNC Indonesia is promoting coast and ocean management through Blue Growth by Design in four main objectives. One of the objectives is to invest in the restoration of Indonesia’s blue infrastructure: coral reefs, mangroves, and beaches to mitigate and adapt to climate change while reducing coastal vulnerability. This work aligns with the GDPC’s Coastal Cities project and will provide the necessary data to conduct an analysis that demonstrates the value of these ecosystems in increasing community resilience to disasters.