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Climate change poses increased risks to coastal communities and the interconnected infrastructure they rely on, including food, energy, water, and transportation (FEWT) systems. Most coastal communities in the US are ill-prepared to address these risks, and resilience planning is inconsistently prioritized and not federally mandated. This study examined the resilience plans of 11 coastal US cities to understand 1. How FEWT systems were considered within resilience plans and, 2. How nexus principles or elements critical to a nexus approach were incorporated within resilience plans. A “Nexus Index” was created to examine the incorporation of nexus principles, which included partnerships and collaborations, reference to other plans or reports, discussion of co-benefits, cascading impacts, and inclusion of interdisciplinary or cross-silo principles. These principles were used to score each action within the resilience plans. Results showed that only eight actions (1% of all actions across the 11 plans) focused on the connections among FEWT systems within the resilience plans. The transportation system was associated with the most actions, followed by the energy system, water system, and the food system. While FEWT systems were not consistently included, there was evidence from the Nexus Index that the plans included elements critical to a nexus approach, such as the inclusion of partnerships and reference to co-benefits with the actions they designed to build resilience. The heterogeneity among the systems that each plan emphasized reflects the heterogeneity among the challenges that each city faces. While context-specific differences in resilience plans across cities are expected, some consistency in addressing certain infrastructural needs and their nexus interactions may greatly benefit and improve the implementation of resilience planning.


About Jennie C. Stephens:

stephens, headshotJennie C. Stephens is the Director for Strategic Research Collaborations at the Global Resilience Institute, Director of Northeastern’s School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs and the Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy. Her research, teaching, and community engagement focus on social and political aspects of the renewable energy transition, reducing fossil fuel reliance, and strengthening societal resilience by integrating social justice with climate and energy policy. Her work explores institutional and cultural innovation in energy, including gender diversity and energy democracy, technological optimism, and enhancing the ‘usability’ of climate science in strengthening climate resilience.

Professor Stephens received a 2017 Arab-American Frontiers Fellowship from the National Academy of Sciences, she is a 2015-2016 Leopold Leadership fellow, and her book ìSmart Grid (R)Evolution: Electric Power Struggles’ (Cambridge University Press, 2015) explores social and cultural debates about energy system change (co-authored with Wilson & Peterson).

Before joining Northeastern University in 2016, Professor Stephens held the Blittersdorf Professorship at the University of Vermont (2014-2016) and was on the faculty at Clark University (2005-2014).She earned her PhD (2002) and MS (1998) at Caltech in Environmental Science & Engineering and her BA (1997) at Harvard in Environmental Science & Public Policy.