Overcoming Contemporary Reform Failure of the National Flood Insurance Program to Accelerate Just Climate Transitions

Melissa Tier
Content Type
Journal Article
Journal of Public and International Affairs (JPIA)
Issue Number
Publication Date
Spring 2021
School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
Managing and adapting to flood risk is an increasing concern of policymakers globally, as anthropogenic climate change contributes to sea level rise and the rising intensity and frequency of coastal storms. Moreover, it is critically important that policymakers design and implement equitable adaptation processes that are based in environmental justice principles. In the United States, the primary instrument for flood risk management is the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)—but the program already suffers from debt, low participation rates, outdated flood risk assessments, and myriad other structural issues. By integrating several models of policy development, this analysis offers explanations for why NFIP reform attempts of the past decade have repeatedly failed and offers the present moment (in the early months of the Biden Administration and as the pandemic crisis continues) as a potential policy window for realigning reform efforts. Achieving true NFIP reform remains crucial to ensuring that all coastal residents have affordable options for low-risk housing, despite the expected growth in high-risk flood zones.
Climate Change, Environment, Reform, Domestic Policy
Political Geography
North America, United States of America