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Home > Coastal Cities Project



United States – China Coastal Cities Project


Funded by the Shell Center for Sustainability
Dr. Michael Emerson, Principal Investigator, Rice University
Ms. Amy Meyers-Jaffe, Baker Institute, Rice University
Dr. Stephen Klineberg, Rice University
Dr. Steven Lewis, Chao Center for Asian Studies, Rice University
Dr. Robert M. Stein, Rice University

More than one-third of the world's population lives within 60 miles of a coastline and thirteen of the world's twenty largest cities are located on a coast. Given the sea-level rise associated with global warming, the concentration of industrial and commercial centers on coasts and their related pollution and the vulnerability of many of these locations to sever storms, coastal populations will face severe challenges to their sustainability in the decades to come.

The United States - China Coastal Cities Project seeks to assess the dimensions of the challenges facing major, low-lying estuary metropoles. The study focuses on major coastal cities with a large petrochemical industrial base, including Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, Shanghai, Tianjin and Guangzhou. Research activities include the development of a comprehensive and fully comparable survey of public attitudes and beliefs to be conducted jointly in both the United States and China.

Science and public opinion converge suggesting that there may be impending challenges facing these coastal petro-economies. Given their geography, the demands of increasing population and the impact of new immigration on community and race relations, vulnerability to severe storms and human environmental perturbations (i.e. air and water pollution, increased greenhouse gas emissions, and run-off wastes), the prospect for future growth may depend on greater regulation of production systems, energy resources, and standards for health and environmental impact.

This study concludes with a suggested policy recommendations regarding development in coastal cities and the influence of cultural factors and local and national political structures on the process of policy formation and implementation.




Esquire magazine named The Coastal-Cities Phenomenon the fifth most significant geopolitical insight of the year.

Click here to review article from October 2006



Amy Jaffe, of the Coastal Cities project at Rice University, Houston reports on the most recent findings of a joint US/Chinese survey assessing public attitudes towards the major challenges facing their coastal cities.

Click here to review article from Autumn 2007



Climate Change, Extreme Events and Coastal Cities Confernece Report - A joint Houston-London Conference at Rice University.

Review a related event conference report from February 2005


us china partnership

Visit our research partners by clicking on the link below.

Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University
Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences
Horizon Survey Research of Beijing