Critical Infrastructure, Disaster Resilience, and Megaregion Sustainability

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Megaregions – networks of metropolitan centers linked by proximity, populations, economic interactions, topography and land use patterns, and integration of infrastructure and environmental systems – represent a new stage in the evolution of human habitation from kinship groups to rural hamlets to urban metropolises.  It is estimated that by 2050 approximately three-quarters of America’s population and employment growth will occur in just eight to ten megaregions. The Boston-Washington (Bos-Wash) corridor alone already boasts a population of nearly 50 million people and generates economic output exceeded by only six countries in the world.

Yet despite their vast resources, megaregions are vulnerable to a variety of threats and little is known about the requisites for their long-term sustainability. The COVID-19 global pandemic has impacted megaregions in the U.S. and around the world, but a more persistent menace is posed by climate change-related natural disasters including coastal and inland flooding, landslides, wildfires, and drought.  Coastal counties in the U.S. are home to over 127 million or almost 40% of the nation’s population (NOAA) and about 40% of the world’s population lives within 100km of the coastline (UN). If stakeholders are to recognize and capitalize on an inherent advantage of scale, they must recognize that megaregions are complex, social-ecological-infrastructure systems with economies of scale.  To ensure their sustainability in the face of a variety of unpredictable threats, steps must be taken to build resilience to protect critical infrastructure for provisioning of food and water, energy, and transportation networks to move people, goods, and medical resources. 


Brian Woodall, Professor, Sam Nunn School of International Affairs

Mariel Borowitz, Associate Professor, Sam Nunn School of International Affairs

Kari Watkins, Associate Professor, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering

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  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Christopher McDermott
  • Created: 10/26/2021
  • Modified By: gwyner3
  • Modified: 10/28/2021


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