Theses Master's

Braving the Storm Together: Understanding the role of social cohesion in local-level climate adaptation planning in New York City

Sookram, Eshwatti

When Hurricane Sandy devastated New York City, it was a catalyst for urban planners and practitioners to ponder the steps and timeline needed to prepare for climate-related disasters. As part of the strategy to implement more community-based climate planning, New York City also recognized local communities' strength and ability to provide for themselves and their neighbors in the wake of this disaster.

Thus, social cohesion became a necessary component of climate planning to build resiliency. Social cohesion is a multi-faceted concept encompassing positive social relationships, trust, participation, a sense of belonging, and inclusion of all groups within a society. It depends on the strength of relationships within and across demographic divides, ensuring equitable access to opportunities and resources and inclusion in civil life, all to prevent alienation and promote a strong social fabric.

This research includes a qualitative comparative analysis of three New York City neighborhoods whose organizing efforts built significant climate resilience for their communities: Sunset Park in Brooklyn, Flushing in Queens, and Battery Park City in Manhattan. This study aims to investigate the role of social cohesion in the three different neighborhoods' resiliency efforts through preventive and defensive measures. More broadly, this research hopes to understand the nuance in different community-based organizations' strategies to be resilient vis-a-vis social cohesion.

The findings of this research support the idea that social cohesion is not the only path to resiliency, but rather an overarching strategy that can help fill gaps. Growing out of social cohesion, local knowledge building, allocation of funds, political mobilization, and coordination are several mechanisms for adequate preparation for and recuperation from the ramifications of climate-related events.


This item is currently under embargo. It will be available starting 2025-06-26.

More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Meisterlin, Leah M.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 26, 2023