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What will adaptation cost? An economic framework for coastal community infrastructure

The purpose of this framework is to help communities begin to find answers to questions such as ‘how can I determine the best adaptation strategy?’, and ‘how much will it cost to keep my community safe?’. By understanding the costs and benefits of different adaptation strategies, decision-makers can make more fully informed decisions that are fiscally responsible in the short and long terms. More importantly, economically informed decision-making will lead to safer, more responsible, economically sound communities.

The report concludes that understanding short and long-term costs and benefits of different adaptation strategies, as well as the costs of not taking action, is critical to making resilience-minded decisions that are fiscally and socially responsible. But community decisions are not based solely on economics. Other factors will need to be considered prior to implementing an action scenario—including social feasibility, community culture, and administrative and legal aspects. While economics are a very important criterion to consider, the unique conditions, history, and desired vision of each community will influence decisions about how to plan for and adapt to inundation threats from sea level rise and storms. The authors recommend that community leaders engage area stakeholders and residents in the decision process to develop a complete picture of community interests. Applying this framework can produce economic information that will be an important part of a community discussion.