Massachusetts’ first-ever Climate Chief, Melissa Hoffer, marked her tenth month in the role with a detailed 87-page report entitled Recommendations of the Climate Chief. I have had the opportunity to read the report in full in recent days. I want to congratulate Chief Hoffer and her team for producing such a thoughtful, thorough study to guide the work that our entire state government and society will need to pursue in coming years and decades to manage the many, profound impacts of changing climate.
What’s particularly notable about the report is the comprehensive way in which it reflects the Healey-Driscoll Administration’s “whole of government” approach to climate. In addition to advancing coastal resilience, a core mission of Boston Harbor Now, the report also outlines a vision and calls for action on everything from emissions mitigation, biodiversity, and public health to economic and workforce development, climate capital investment strategies, and K-12 climate education—among many other important topics.
On coastal resilience, two of the many points Chief Hoffer makes especially resonate. First: “The Commonwealth needs long-term planning that is clear-eyed about the total coastal resilience investment needed and the mechanisms to fund that investment.’’ And second, “To the greatest extent possible, coastal resilience should focus on nature-based solutions that enhance and restore the capacity of existing natural coastal resources that already protect our coastal communities from flooding, storm surge, and erosion, such as salt marshes, barrier beaches, and dunes, or on human-made technology that biomimics the functions of such features.’’
Boston Harbor Now and our partners at the Stone Living Lab could not agree more strongly with Chief Hoffer about the importance of maximizing nature-based approaches to coastal resiliency, including the need to update and adjust state environmental regulations to promote flexibility and innovation to implement them. We believe that the more we can use “green” approaches to coastal resilience over “gray” approaches like concrete seawalls and barriers, the more sustainable, affordable, and effective they will be. Designing and building a resilient coastline for the entire Commonwealth will be an unparalleled undertaking, and each investment needs to provide multiple benefits—flood protection that serves to benefit communities with improved public health, ecology, recreation, and resilience.
Recommendations of the Climate Chief is a landmark document that deserves to become a go-to reference for all of us for addressing the climate crisis today and into the future.