The City’s Resiliency Efforts in Charlestown Gets Noticed

Last week the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize announced that Boston has been honored as a Special Mention for the 2020 World City Prize.

One of the reasons the city received this honor is Boston’s holistic work on climate resiliency here in Charlestown.

The prize committee called Boston a visionary city where close partnership and trust is delivering significant results. The committee noted Boston’s foresight in climate resiliency here in Charlestown and other Boston Harbor neighborhoods and urged other waterfront cities to take a similar, proactive approach to tackle climate change.

The committee specifically mentioned Climate Ready Boston’s work here in the neighborhood to prepare and address for the short and long-term impacts of climate change.

The city’s FY2021-FY2022 budget made investments in accessible infrastructure funding to protect some of the most flood-vulnerable neighborhoods like Charlestown.

This includes Phase II of the ongoing Climate Ready Boston’s work in Charlestown.

Throughout the year the City has been hosting virtual workshops with Charlestown residents to begin addressing real solutions in the neighborhood to protect against sea-level rise.

The world is expecting to see about 40 inches of sea level rise by 2070. So in the next 50 years, if we don’t intervene by adapting to climate change impacts and coordinating climate change impacts by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions there will be more flood entry points into Charlestown.

The low lying areas in the neighborhood are more susceptible to flooding, both during extreme weather events, such as hurricanes or rain events, but also gradual sea level rise. Some of these entry points are issues now whereas others will become an issue over time.

Charlestown is already seeing the impacts of climate change with seeing extreme temperatures. There has also been more extensive precipitation, sea level rise, and coastal storms. Those three things coupled together are leading to more storm water flooding inland in areas that residents wouldn’t think would be subject to flooding because they’re away from the coast.

Phase II of Climate Ready Boston in Charlestown will examine areas of the Charlestown coastline not addressed during the Phase I study in 2017.

The study area wraps the Charlestown waterfront from approximately the base of the Lower Mystic Greenway on Medford Street, around the Boston Harbor Autoport and Little Mystic Channel, along the Navy Yard and historic Charlestown waterfront to the Charles River Dam and up New Rutherford Avenue.

Boston’s submission for the prestigious prize was led by the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA), which hosted the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize nominating committee for a visit in 2019 with City of Boston agencies, non-profit organizations, institutions, business leaders, and community stakeholders.

Boston was the only U.S. city recognized in the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize awards cycle. The World City Prize was awarded to Vienna, Austria. Boston joined Antwerp, Belgium, and Lisbon, Portugal with Special Mentions.

“We are honored that the Lee Kuan Yew Prize Committee has selected Boston for this prestigious ranking, based on important work the BPDA has led on waterfront resiliency, housing affordability, mobility solutions, and civic engagement,” said BPDA Director Brian Golden. “These are the priorities we focus on every day to build a better future for all Boston residents, and it is a privilege to be acknowledged alongside other innovative global cities. As the only U.S. city to receive this international recognition, we are immensely proud that Boston is being held up as a model for the world.”

The Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize is a biennial international award that honors outstanding achievements and contributions to the creation of livable, vibrant, and sustainable urban communities around the world. The Prize is awarded to cities and recognizes their key leaders and organizations for displaying foresight, good governance, and innovation in tackling the many urban challenges faced, to bring about social, economic and environmental benefits in a holistic way to their communities.

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