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Flooded Future: Assessing the Implications of New Elevation Data for Coastal Communities

Date & Time

Nov. 20, 2019
2:00pm – 3:30pm


6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
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Flooded Future: Assessing the Implications of New Elevation Data for Coastal Communities


According to new research conducted by Climate Central, by 2050, sea level rise could push the high-tide line above the homes of 150 million people living on coastlines today. Rising sea levels could also push chronic floods higher than land currently home to 300 million people--that number could reach 480 million by 2100. These totals are significantly larger than previous estimates and have wide-ranging and profound implications for economic and political stability. Importantly, the greatest impact will be felt in Asia, where six nations--China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand--are home to 75 percent of the 300 million people who will be living in chronic flood zones.

These findings are based on CoastalDEM, a new digital elevation model that uses machine learning methods to correct for systematic errors in the principal elevation dataset previously used for international assessment of coastal flood risks, NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission.

Please join us on November 20 for a presentation of the study's findings and their implications for future humanitarian assistance, economic prosperity, adaptation and resilience initiatives, and global security. A reception will follow the event.



Welcome Remarks

  • Ambassador David Balton, Senior Fellow, Polar Institute, Wilson Center

Keynote Remarks: Understanding the Analysis

  • Dr. Benjamin Strauss, CEO and Chief Scientist, Climate Central

Panel: Implications

  • Humanitarian ImplicationsEric Schwartz, President, Refugees International; former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration
  • Security Implications:John Conger, Director, Center for Climate and Security; former Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense
  • Economic ImplicationsJulie Rozenberg, Senior Economist, World Bank
  • Moderated by Ambassador David Balton, Senior Fellow, Polar Institute, Wilson Center


Hosted By

Global Risk and Resilience Program

The Global Risk and Resilience Program (GRRP) seeks to support the development of inclusive, resilient networks in local communities facing global change. By providing a platform for sharing lessons, mapping knowledge, and linking people and ideas, GRRP and its affiliated programs empower policymakers, practitioners, and community members to participate in the global dialogue on sustainability and resilience. Empowered communities are better able to develop flexible, diverse, and equitable networks of resilience that can improve their health, preserve their natural resources, and build peace between people in a changing world.  Read more

Environmental Change and Security Program

The Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) explores the connections between environmental change, health, and population dynamics and their links to conflict, human insecurity, and foreign policy.  Read more

Polar Institute

Since its inception in 2017, the Polar Institute has become a premier forum for discussion and policy analysis of Arctic and Antarctic issues, and is known in Washington, DC and elsewhere as the Arctic Public Square. The Institute holistically studies the central policy issues facing these regions—with an emphasis on Arctic governance, climate change, economic development, scientific research, security, and Indigenous communities—and communicates trusted analysis to policymakers and other stakeholders.  Read more

Asia Program

The Asia Program promotes policy debate and intellectual discussions on U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific as well as political, economic, security, and social issues relating to the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region.   Read more

China Environment Forum

Since 1997, the China Environment Forum's mission has been to forge U.S.-China cooperation on energy, environment, and sustainable development challenges. We play a unique nonpartisan role in creating multi-stakeholder dialogues around these issues.  Read more

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