Climate-Driven Relocation


More frequent and intense climate shocks, including hurricanes and extreme rainfall, are already affecting U.S. coasts, with urban areas being hit the hardest. By 2100, sea level rise will threaten to displace up to 13.1 million people in the U.S. As these hazards worsen, coastal cities are grappling with complex decisions on how to adapt, and relocating people, homes, and infrastructure away from vulnerable areas may be unavoidable for some parts of the country

Climate-driven relocation is an adaptation strategy involving the movement of people, homes, and infrastructure away from coastal climate hazards and into safer places.

Climate-driven relocation is becoming a critical strategy for coastal cities to adapt to climate change. The federal government has already funded the purchase of thousands of flood-prone homes in urban areas over the last decade, and coastal cities (such as New York City, San Francisco, and Miami) are beginning to include relocation in their adaptation plans. Proactively relocating 1 million flood-prone homes to higher ground could prevent the loss of millions of lives and save the U.S. over $1 trillion in avoided property damages over the next century.

Yet, the dominant approaches are "woefully inadequate”, often prioritizing property over people. Ensuring equitable and pre-emptive relocation will require more comprehensive, locally led policy solutions in coastal cities.


Without a comprehensive, proactive, and justice-centered approach to relocation, millions of people could be forcibly displaced without critical support systems.

Extreme weather events displaced 3.4 million people in the U.S. in 2022

Up to 0 13.1 million people may be displaced by 6 feet of sea level rise by 210

Coastal erosion is responsible for approximately $500 million per year in coastal property loss.

Below are a few resources that offer critical context and guidance for policymakers, practitioners, and advocates shaping the future of climate-driven relocation in the U.S.

Urban Ocean Lab is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit that cultivates rigorous, creative, equitable, and practical climate and ocean policy for the future of coastal cities.

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