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Implementing Managed Retreat

In-city Relocation/In-city Resettlement

With the changing climate, the effects of hazards to coastal areas have been much more prominent threatening properties and infrastructures. Managed retreat is a method which prevents this from happening by primarily relocating the homes away from the coast then placing additional structures for hazard protection, and reassessing the current structure and foundation of the property [1][7][9][10].

Climate Adaptation Effectiveness

The effectivity of the method is dependent on the design which varies per city due to differences in hazard vulnerability, degree of urbanization, resource capacity, and political status. Designing the method starts from determining the probable hazards that could affect the area, reassessing the effectivity of current urban practices, modifying implemented practices or adapting new ones, then identifying what could hinder adaptation [4][6].

Climate Hazards

  • Rain-Induced Flooding
  • Sea Level Rise
  • Storm Surge


  • Manila, NCR (National Capital Region)

Adaptation Sectors

  • Buildings
  • Coastal Areas
  • Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Energy
  • Health
  • Urban

CCET Instuments

  • Action Delivery
  • Policy Governance

Target Group based on Vulnerability

Basic Sectors:
  • Informal Settler Families
  • Urban Poor
  • Workers in the Informal Sector


Economic / Financial Effectiveness

There is often hesitation in adopting managed retreat due to its high cost of implementation. Funding should be allotted for land acquisition and resource mobilization. In highly urbanized cities, there is a competitive market for land which increases its value. In the perspective of local government units, the budget allotted for the retreat could be used to address several other municipal needs which would reap short-term benefits [4]. The benefits of managed retreat are in the long-term. Relocation would minimize the natural hazard risk which would lower maintenance and recurring financial cost. If not implemented, there is a high probability that the cost of rebuilding and applying coastal measures would be much higher than the initial cost for managed retreat [4][8].

Technical Feasibility

The implementation of managed retreat may be complex due to the sectors involved. Since it is a municipality or city-wide project, the local government is responsible for its adaptation and management but the provincial, national, and private sectors can be tapped if there are issues regarding property acquisition, policy implementation, and access to rights of way. The challenge for the adaptation would be the coordination of the sectors and stakeholders involved [4].

Social Acceptability

Utilization of managed retreat as a climate change adaptation practice has been hindered by the lack of political will to implement it. Citizens to be relocated expressed their hesitation in the retreat due to livelihood, attachment to the community, cultural heritage loss, unfavored perception of the relocation area, and future sources of income. For them, managed retreat is a high risk action which cannot be easily reversed. As a consequence, political leaders and decision makers have difficulty in moving forward with this solution due to possible political disagreements [4]. However, a retreat might be the only solution for the communities if the continued threat of sea level rise and coastal hazards become more prominent. Some problems that might be encountered as it is implemented are: lack of community consultation and participation, legitimizing decisions with crucial and inequitable outcomes, forced evacuations, and other subtle forms of coercion [2][3][12].

Environmental Impact

Managed retreat can aid in the ecological restoration of the coastal landscape and ecosystem [5]. If the coastal area is cleared properly, it could make way for habitat restoration of coastal ecosystems. Seagrass and eelgrass can be planted and cultivated for ecological recovery and to act as habitat for other marine organisms. They can also prevent coastal erosion and flooding. Revegetation of the land could also result in the formation of salt marshes which act as wave barriers, along with sand dune ridges which are formed by the unhindered sediment movement on coastal areas [5][11].

Mitigation co-benefit

There is no direct mitigation co-benefit for this solution.


managed retreat, climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, relocation, in-city relocation; in-city resettlement


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[2] Anguelovski, I., Shi, L., Chu, E., Gallagher, D., Goh, K., Lamb, Z., Reeve, K. & Teicher, H. (2016). Equity impacts of urban land use planning for climate adaptation: Critical perspectives from the global north and south. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 36(3), 333-348.
[3] Anguelovski, I., Irazábal‐Zurita, C., & Connolly, J. J. (2019). Grabbed urban landscapes: Socio‐spatial tensions in green infrastructure planning in Medellín. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 43, 133–156.
[4] Doberstein, B., Tadgell, A., and Rutledge, A. (2020). Managed retreat for climate change adaptation in coastal megacities: A comparison of policy and practice in Manila and Vancouver. Journal of Environmental Management, 253, pp. 1-10.
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[8] Hino, M., Field, C. and Mach, K. (2017). Managed retreat as a response to natural hazard risk. Nature Climate Change, 7, pp.1-7.
[9] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change-IPCC (2014). Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Cambridge University Press, Geneva, Switzerland. IPCC.
[10] Nicholls, R., (2011). Planning for the impacts of sea level rise. Oceanography 24 (2), 144–157.
[11] Temmerman, S., Meire, P., Bouma, T. et al. Ecosystem-based coastal defence in the face of global change. Nature 504, 79–83 (2013).
[12] Tubridy, F., Lenon, M. and Scott, M. (2018). Resist or Retreat? Planning for Place Disruption, Displacement and Vulnerabilities in the Face of Climate Change. In Climate Disruption and Planning: Resistance or Retreat?, Planning Theory & Practice, 21:1, 125-154,