Building Storm Defenses While Turning a Profit

The Rockefeller Foundation unveils its innovative plan to incentivize private investors to provide the infrastructure solutions for eight U.S. cities most vulnerable to extreme storms and rising seas.

January 21, 2013, 8:00 AM PST

By Erica Gutiérrez


Hurricane Sandy has brought the need for effective disaster planning to the forefront, but the question remains as to how critical infrastructure projects will be financed in these austere economic times. Though public-private partnerships offer much potential, the bottom line still drives corporate investment, and profitability is no promise. Last week, however, the Rockefeller Foundation planned to announce its solution “to use an innovative financing strategy to help eight cities create defense systems against storm waters and the rising sea,” reports Ashley Halsey III.

She explains that the Rockefeller Foundation's proposed plan will entice investors like Verizon or Pepco, for example, to “finance a storm water defense project [in exchange for] the opportunity to install miles of underground cable while the streets were dug up for the water project.” The Rockefeller Foundation has apparently carried out similar piggybacking projects in India, Indonesia, Vietnan and Thailand. "We’ve been working on those cities that are either on river deltas or the most fragile ecologies, a lot of them having exactly the same terrain as many of our most vulnerable cities in the United States,” said Judith Rodin, the foundation's head.

The hope is to draw in the substantially greater capital needed to implement similar schemes in U.S. cities under threat, as well as to create a replicable blueprint. Though the Rockefeller plans to provide some preliminary funding for projects, the aim “is to attract private investors to move beyond pilots or demonstration [projects] to large-scale system financing,” said Rodin. “That’ll create a template for other cities to use as well.”

Friday, January 18, 2013 in The Washington Post

Chicago Commute

Planning for Congestion Relief

The third and final installment of Planetizen's examination of the role of the planning profession in both perpetuating and solving traffic congestion.

May 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

Twin Cities

Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think

Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.

May 13, 2022 - Reason

Parent and child walking, holding hands on mixed-use trail with trees

What Role Does Health Care Play in Community Development?

Cities are economically diverse and require accessible health care systems, but this can be challenging to implement. Urban developers are working alongside health professionals to create affordable care for city residents.

May 18, 2022 - Devin Partida

Complete Street Vancouver

Study: Most of Vancouver Is a ‘15-Minute City’

A large majority of Vancouver residents can access a grocery store in 15 minutes or less by bicycle or on foot.

1 hour ago - Vancouver Sun

Montreal, Quebec

Urban Design, Transport, and Health

The Lancet medical journal published a series of articles that explore how to evaluate and guide urban planning decisions to create healthy and sustainable cities. Live long and prosper!

2 hours ago - The Lancet - Urban Design, Transport, and Health

MoGo Bikeshare Bikes

Detroit Bike Share Celebrates Five Years

In its five years of operation, Detroit’s MoGo bikeshare has added electric and adaptive bikes to its fleet of more than 600 bikes.

3 hours ago - MoGo

HUD’s 2022 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Expanding HUD’s Eviction Protection Grant Program

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.