Reports & Policy Memos

October 2022

Social cohesion as a climate strategy: Reflections on Superstorm Sandy


Community resilience

Social cohesion as a climate strategy: Reflections on Superstorm Sandy


Social cohesion and community organizing are key strategies for climate resilience.

For the 10-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, Urban Ocean Lab partnered with the Office of the New York City Comptroller on an assessment of community-led response, recovery, and resilience efforts in the decade since the storm.

Through conversations with community leaders, organizations, and resilience practitioners from across New York City, we have put forward a set of actionable recommendations for how the City of New York can partner with, support, and scale community-led initiatives.

Key recommendations

By supporting and partnering with community organizations, the City of New York—and other climate vulnerable and impacted places—can help ensure that all residents are better prepared for the future.

Move from models of community engagement to collaborative governance.

City policies must shift from solely seeking community input to institutionally embedding community members into climate planning, ranging from neighborhood to citywide long-term resiliency plans.

Create dedicated flexible funding for community organizations to implement resiliency solutions.

The City should establish a flexible funding program for communities to implement the types of resilient solutions they want to see in their neighborhoods. Alongside funding, the City should incorporate technical assistance, such as how to secure permits or assess feasibility, to support community groups in carrying out their visions.

Establish on-call emergency contracts for community organizations to institutionalize their role in climate disaster preparedness and response.

The City should establish a community preparedness program that annually contracts with community organizations for two critical functions: 1) to carry out ongoing outreach and education to community members about emergency preparedness, and 2) to activate community groups for disaster response.

Develop a comprehensive community organization training program for climate preparedness and resiliency.

We recommend the City create a training program for community organizations in order to better integrate climate preparedness and resiliency into their services and programs. This program could also provide technical assistance to support community organizations with limited staff capacity to access funding for their resilience efforts.

Invest in the resilience of community organizations’ physical spaces, establishing them as “Community Resilience Hubs.

The City should work with communities to designate Community Resilience Hubs across neighborhoods to provide safe places for residents to use in the event of emergencies.


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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