We develop an analytical repertoire for understanding historical interrelationships between water infrastructure, regional environmental politics, and large-scale coastal ecosystems. In doing so, we scrutinize how notions of urban resilience, climate adaptation, and ecosystem-based infrastructure are influencing contemporary planning practice. Our account from New Orleans and the Mississippi River Delta traces several large-scale hydrological engineering projects with origins in the early 20th century, which aimed to restructure the landscape for more effective maritime transportation, flood protection, and urban drainage.
The account then turns to a discussion of a massive and ongoing planning project, which aims to restore the historical dynamics of the Mississippi River Delta, diverting the river into nearby coastal wetlands to provide storm protection for vulnerable communities, most especially New Orleans. Our analysis shows how the development of water infrastructure systems in the region produced cleavages in the region’s body politic and eco-hydrology, generating disputes that threaten to slow or obstruct the plan’s implementation.
The study shows how the forms and discourses of political contention in the present are deeply informed by past decisions regarding the placement, operation, and maintenance of water infrastructures in the region. The conflicts that emerge from these cleavages comprise the primary obstacle facing ecosystem-based strategies aimed at securing New Orleans and other major settlements in the region from storm surges. This raises fundamental challenges for planning practice, which are explored here through a discussion of situational dissensus, conflicting rationalities, and pathways for democratic institutional innovation.
Research news | 2019-09-13
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through six actionable steps
Research news | 2019-09-12
Centre researchers contribute to first practical guide to offer proven techniques for planning and achieving nature-based solutions
Research news | 2019-09-10
Report from fourth meeting between world’s largest seafood companies and their quest to turn their business sector more sustainable
Research news | 2019-09-09
Understanding the relationships between forest resilience and soil erosion in tropical forests affected by human and natural disturbances
Research news | 2019-09-06
In Philippine fishing communities, gender roles have a bigger influence than price on fishers’ business decisions
Research news | 2019-09-04
Will help private investment to protect the ocean and the people that rely on it