New England Climate Adaptation Project
Test an innovative way to help coastal communities understand and prepare for the potential impacts of climate change.
The Wells Reserve is one of four National Estuarine Research Reserves in New England partnering with communities to test the use of role-play simulations as a means to educate the public about climate change threats, and to help communities explore ways of decreasing their vulnerability and enhancing their resilience.
Tailored specifically for each community, these simulations were designed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Science Impact Collaborative and the Consensus Building Institute to engage participants in a mock decision-making process about key climate change risks facing their community, such as the possibility of severe sea level rise and related impacts on coastal infrastructure. The simulations were based upon local climate change projections, risk assessments, and in-depth discussions with key community members and public officials in each town or city. The simulations were run from June to December 2013; 8 workshops hosted in Wells with 115 participants; 7 workshops in Barnstable with 150 participants; 7 workshops in Cranston with 170 participants; and 8 workshops in Dover with 120 participants, totaling more than 500 participants in New England.
This project has provided valuable insights into techniques for engaging communities in public learning, risk management, and collaborative decision-making around science-intensive public disputes. It is also informing the development of a model approach that communities in New England and elsewhere can use to address climate change.
- Managing Climate Risks in Coastal Communities:Strategies for Engagement, Readiness and Adaptation. Anthem Press, September 2015. (Purchase on Amazon here)
- Project website: https://necap.mit.edu/
- Wells Climate Change Risk Assessment (13 MB)
- Role-play Simulation Created for Wells
Fall 2012 to Fall 2014
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology Science Impact Collaborative
- Consensus Building Institute
- Wells, Great Bay, Waquoit Bay, and Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves
- The communities of Wells, Maine; Dover, New Hampshire; Barnstable, Massachusetts; and Cranston, Rhode Island
- University of New Hampshire
- Maine Sea Grant
Related Publications and Websites
- Building the Capacity of Coastal Communities to Adapt to Climate Change through Participatory Action Research: Lessons Learned from the New England Climate Adaptation Project (go to page 16) Carolina Planning 2014
- Role-playing Addresses Reality of Changing Climate in New England EcoRI January 2014
- Bracing for change: Seacoast communities are beginning to talk about how to adapt to rising sea levels, more severe storms, and moreThe Wire November 2013
- Simulation Offers Opportunity for Climate DiscussionYork County Coast Star June 2013
- Collective Climate Adaptation: Can Games Make a Difference? by Larry Susskind and Danya Rumore The Solutions Journal February 2013
- New England Climate Adaptation Project
Photo credit: Danya Rumore