Managed retreat is a potentially important climate change adaptation option, providing an alternative to structural protection or accommodation measures to manage natural hazard risk. However, its application faces challenges given the projected scale of climate-induced displacement and the difficulties of resettlement. We evaluate the drivers, barriers and outcomes of 27 recent cases of managed retreat that have resettled approximately 1.3 million people. A conceptual model based on two key factors—who benefits from retreat and who initiates it—organizes the diverse set of cases into four quadrants. Different sociopolitical dimensions emerge as particularly influential in each quadrant. The model establishes a foundation for understanding and anticipating case-specific complexities. It can be used to unpack the landscape of managed retreat and evaluate its potential future applications.
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We thank J. Barnett, V. Burkett, T. Chapin, K. Dow, R. Lempert, N. Mimura, B. Preston, A. Reisinger and A. Webb for feedback on an earlier draft. M.H. is financially supported through the Sykes Family Fellowship in Stanford’s Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources. K.J.M. is supported by funding from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Hino, M., Field, C. & Mach, K. Managed retreat as a response to natural hazard risk. Nature Clim Change 7, 364–370 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate3252
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