Boston’s Resilient Future

How HR&A’s Resilience Approach Helped the City of Boston Plan for a Stronger Future


Boston is no stranger to climate hazards. In fact, the city has experienced 21 weather-related disasters in the past 15 years alone. As our world becomes warmer and wetter, we’re working with  cities around the world to create public and private solutions that will mitigate climate-related risks for people, property, infrastructure, and the environment.


The increasing frequency of destructive climate-related events is not the only challenge cities face. The same characteristics that make cities so appealing – vibrant, densely-populated neighborhoods; historic architecture; and extensive infrastructure – also make urban climate adaptation expensive and complex. To unlock the growth potential of climate adaptation, cities need to develop mitigation strategies that leverage interdisciplinary thinking and reflect economic realities.


We’ve developed a resilience approach for climate adaptation to help our clients identify actions that produce  benefits beyond risk reduction, supporting broad social, economic, and environmental policy goals. Central to this approach is ensuring that the solutions proposed can harness the value they create – through avoided damage and disruption as well as new development, jobs, public spaces, etc. – to help finance future adaptation projects and minimize reliance on scarce public funding.




In Boston, we incorporated our resilience approach into the city’s new climate adaptation plan,  Climate Ready Boston. With a team of city and regional stakeholders, we identified initiatives that will help Boston continue to thrive in the face of climate change. Key recommendations from Climate Ready Boston include forming a regional consortium of public and private infrastructure owners and operators to coordinate system-wide adaptation; creating new resilience workforce development pathways; integrating coastal protection infrastructure and other improvements into growth plans for new neighborhoods; and establishing requirements for future development to be adaptable and climate ready.


HR&A also collaborated with the City of Boston to integrate resilience considerations in concurrent planning efforts, including Imagine Boston 2030 and 100 Resilient Cities. Through Imagine Boston 2030, the first citywide plan in 50 years, the City has identified areas capable of accommodating Boston’s growing population and economy. However, to grow successfully in waterfront areas, Boston will need to implement multi-layered flood protection, partially by leveraging the value of new development to support them. As our work in Boston demonstrates, by applying our resilience approach, cities can unlock the growth potential of adaptation.


Learn more about HR&A’s resilience approach.