Puerto Rico Coastal Adaptation Project

Kasey Jacobs, Ernesto L. Diaz
Created: 10/21/2011 - Updated: 3/02/2020


The Puerto Rico Coastal Management Program (PRCZMP) is conducting a two-year Coastal Adaptation Project. The goal is to develop a coastal zone vulnerability assessment and appropriate adaptation strategies to help Puerto Rico cope with existing coastal hazards and future climate changes. The project is utilizing participatory stakeholder processes, spatial analysis tools, geophysical and chemical scientific knowledge, and utilization of the best available data from Puerto Rico’s experts in order to develop broadly applicable outputs.


Both rapid-onset and slow-onset hazards pose substantial risks to many coastal communities of Puerto Rico. Storm surges, winter swells, tsunamis, and coral bleaching are examples of rapid-onset events, while sea level rise and ocean acidification are examples of slow-onset events. Risks from these phenomena are projected to increase due to continued development in hazardous locations, changes in the frequency and intensity of inundation events, and acceleration in the rate of change along vulnerable shorelines. Adequate attention must be given to respond to the impacts of coastal hazards that are already occurring while simultaneously preparing for future impacts. Strengthening the ability of Puerto Rico to reduce risks will safeguard economic progress and increase the resilience of ecosystems and communities.

The PRCZMP is conducting a two-year Coastal Adaptation Project. Through collaboration with numerous stakeholders, the goal is to develop a coastal zone vulnerability assessment and appropriate adaptation strategies to help Puerto Rico cope with existing coastal hazards and future climate changes. PRCZMP and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) placed a Coastal Management Fellow in the CZM Division from 2010-2012 to coordinate this effort. Employing multi-stakeholder collaboration techniques, spatial analysis tools, geophysical and chemical scientific knowledge, and utilization of the best available data from Puerto Rico’s experts, the Project is operating with a vision for a safe, healthy, productive, and resilient Puerto Rico.

The project's objectives are:

  • To identify the communities and ecosystems most at risk from coastal hazards and climate changes using the best available scientific knowledge.
  • To identify, assess, and prioritize effective adaptation strategies and policies that could be implemented in Puerto Rico.
  • To serve as a clearinghouse of climate information for Puerto Rico's researchers, planners, government officials, businesses, NGOs, and concerned citizens.
  • To provide opportunities and space for multi-stakeholder communication on the topic of coastal vulnerability and adaptation.


The Puerto Rico Coastal Adaptation Project has created a task force with four working groups:

  1. Geophysical and Chemical Scientific Knowledge - Scenario Building;
  2. Society and Economy;
  3. Ecology and Biodiversity; and
  4. Communicating Coastal Hazards and Climate Change.

Each working group is crafting a descriptive vulnerability assessment for multiple sectors in their issue areas. The Coastal Zone Management Program has created a shared library through Dropbox to assist with this document creation under the title "The Puerto Rico Climate Research Library." Next, stakeholder listening sessions and risk assessment workshops will be held to collect more information and quantify risk. 

In 2012, adaptation strategies will be developed, assessed, and prioritized so that the Program can deliver recommendations for implementation to the Commonwealth government, private sector, NGOs, academia, and civil society.

Outcomes and Conclusions

The project team has created a Task Force, Climate Research Library, and a Climate Change Listserv (PR-CC-L) (to be added, please contact Kasey Jacobs). Other projected outcomes include:

  • A climate change vulnerability assessment addressing different sectors;
  • A suite of recommended climate change adaptation strategies;
  • Stakeholder listening sessions;
  • Risk assessment workshops based around Infrastructure, Economic Development Activities, and Natural Resources;
  • Adaptation strategy prioritization workshops; and
  • Educational materials for the general public and decision makers for broader application.


Case study uploaded by user and edited by EcoAdapt. Last updated October 2011.


Jacobs, K. & Diaz, E.L. (2011). Puerto Rico Coastal Adaptation Project. Ed. Rachel M. Gregg [Case study on a project of the Puerto Rico Coastal Zone Management Program]. Retrieved from CAKE: www.cakex.org/case-studies/puerto-rico-coastal-adaptation-project (Last updated October 2011)

Project Documents

One-Page Project Description in Spanish and English

Project Contact(s)

Puerto Rico's Coastal Program was approved by NOAA in 1978 and is comprised of a network of agencies with authority in the coastal zone. The Department of Natural and Environmental Resources serves as the lead agency and is responsible for managing the maritime zone, coastal waters, and submerged lands. The Puerto Rico Planning Board serves as the primary agency for managing coastal development.


Scale of Project
State / Provincial
Sector Addressed
Conservation / Restoration
Development (socioeconomic)
Disaster Risk Management
Land Use Planning
Public Health
Tourism / Recreation
Transportation / Infrastructure
Water Resources
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Culture / communities
Diseases or parasites
Fishery harvest
Flow patterns
Habitat extent
Infrastructure damage
Invasive / non-native species, pests
Ocean acidification
Public health risks
Public safety threats
Range shifts
Salinization / Saltwater intrusion
Sea level rise
Species of concern
Storms or extreme weather events
Water quality
Water supply
Water temperature
Climate Type
1-3 years
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Incorporate future conditions into natural resources planning and policies
Capacity Building
Design or reform institutions
Increase organizational capacity
Conduct / Gather additional research, data, and products
Conduct vulnerability assessments and studies
Create stakeholder engagement processes to develop and implement adaptation strategies
Infrastructure, Planning, and Development
Governance and Policy
Taxonomic Focus
Other Invertebrates
Sociopolitical Setting
Effort Stage
In progress