Global Challenge, Global Solutions: Embracing Water in a Delta City

The Gen­tilly Re­si­li­ence Dis­trict seeks to re­duce flood risk, slow land sub­sid­ence, im­prove pub­lic health, and cre­ate jobs in a flood-prone, mixed-in­come area of New Or­leans.

“Global Challenge, Global Solutions” is a series hosted on Climasphere highlighting inspiring, innovative, and creative global solutions to the challenge of climate change in the lead up to the next major climate conference, COP22. These solutions have been provided by members of the Earth To Marrakech coalition, a group of more than 50 media organizations, civil society groups, and businesses from around the world who are raising their voices in a collective call to move from words to action on climate change. Let’s send a message, from Earth To Marrakech: The solutions to climate change are out there, and they’re inspiring. 

Embracing Water in a Delta City

New Or­leans’ Gen­tilly Re­si­li­ence Dis­trict seeks to man­age com­plex drain­age and land is­sues by em­bra­cing the tide and cre­at­ing spaces to cap­ture rain­wa­ter in a mixed-in­come neigh­bor­hood prone to fl ood­ing. A suite of urban wa­ter man­age­ment pro­jects will ad­dress crum­bling streets, over­burdened drain­age sys­tems, and sink­ing soils by ad­apt­ing the city’s streets, parks, school­yards, open lots, as well as res­id­ents’ prop­er­ties with green in­fra­struc­ture. The pro­jects are de­signed to reduce risk from flooding and subsidence while beautifying neighborhoods, im­prov­ing pub­lic health, and provid­ing re­cre­ational op­por­tun­it­ies.

The city plans to train un­em­ployed in­di­vidu­als to build pro­jects in the re­si­li­ence dis­trict and develop increasingly vital skills in water infrastructure management. This ap­proach con­nects phys­ical re­si­li­ence with so­cial re­si­li­ence, fo­cus­ing on re­du­cing risk to the city’s most vul­ner­able land­scapes and pop­u­la­tions.


In New Or­leans, risks of land sub­sid­ence and flood­ing dis­pro­por­tion­ately im­pact low-ly­ing, lower-in­come areas like Gen­tilly. Mak­ing this bur­den worse, coastal Louisi­ana is ex­per­i­en­cing the highest rate of re­l­at­ive sea level rise in the world, pre­dicted at 1.3 meters by 2100.1 The Gen­tilly Re­si­li­ence Dis­trict aims to mit­ig­ate these en­vir­on­mental and so­cial chal­lenges by re­shap­ing the land­scape and lower­ing un­em­ploy­ment.


The pro­ject aims to elim­in­ate dam­age from a five-year flood­ing event, re­duce land sub­sid­ence, im­prove wa­ter qual­ity, and re­duce the urban heat is­land ef­fect.

The Gen­tilly Re­si­li­ence Dis­trict will provide job train­ing in wa­ter man­age­ment for un­em­ployed res­id­ents, in­clud­ing African Amer­ican men, 52% of whom in New Or­leans are un­em­ployed.

A cost be­ne­fit ana­lysis con­duc­ted by the City in­dic­ates that each dol­lar in­ves­ted in the pro­ject res­ults in more than one dol­lar of es­tim­ated be­ne­fits.

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