Safira De La Sala: Property Rights and Planning Laws in the Climate Change Era Comparative Responses to Sea-Level Rise

seminar lecture


Safira De La Sala
PhD Candidate
Supervisor: Prof. (emerita) Rachelle Alterman

Climate change has emerged as a tangled field of environmental science, law, and policy. Since early 1990s, local governments are striving to increase their urban resilience. Yet, too little has been discussed about the specific roles of planning and property laws as tools to foster – and in many cases also to block – climate adaptation.
My study aims to enhance international knowledge about the roles of property-rights and planning law in contending with the need to adapt to sea-level rise: Are they an asset or an impediment? As legal and administrative regimes can differ greatly across jurisdictions, this research used a comparative perspective. Florida (USA) and the Netherlands were selected due to their major differences in approaching governance, law, planning and ultimately, their diverging public attitudes towards climate change. Both share a history of flooding and extreme weather events and accelerated SLR. The study analyzes to what extent each jurisdiction has been able to harness planning laws and property rights to design better modes of adaptation to SLR – successes as well as limitations. The comparative analysis or the two extremes offers lessons for other countries.

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