Urban Land Institute Panel Recap


Recently, nationally-renowned experts in land use, real estate, and urban planning – representing the Urban Land Institute (ULI) – convened in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. The group collaborated to provide strategic recommendations and advice to the municipality of Toa Baja on how to best improve preparedness for extreme weather events and to ensure all residents benefit from investments in resilience.


I attended the panel discussion and shared recently completed work by ResilientSEE-PR. In particular, I discussed our methodical, in-depth analysis of Puerto Rico’s vulnerabilities to natural and man-made systems related to climate change – both island-wide and specific to the Toa Baja municipality. Toa Baja is facing a series of challenges as a result of climate change and demographic and economic development. In our analysis, we employed a comprehensive and holistic methodology that draws on data analysis to author sustainable urban development principles that help local governments make better decisions. Our methodology takes on a “SEE” approach, considering Social, Environmental and Economic vulnerabilities, and promotes healthy living, resilient systems, and diversity at all levels.


The panel discussion included renowned national experts Don Edwards, Chief Executive Officer and Principal at Justice & Sustainability Associates, Washington, D.C.; Chris Calott, LaLanne Chair – R.E. Development, Architecture and Urbanism and Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkley; Bob van der Zande, Director of Residential Markets, City of Amsterdam, Metropolitan Region; and Thomas Roth, Principal, Grass River Property, among others. The panel outlined a vision and goals to “Create a cooperative cohesive, democratic, fair, sustainable, inclusive, healthy and resilient town.”

Following the panel discussion, I had the honor of meeting Pamela Hughes Patenaude, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), updating her on both the ResilientSEE platform and additional work developed in collaboration with the MIT Urban Risk Lab and Ricardo Alvarez Diaz of ADV. Our joint goal is to use the ResilientSEE approach and methodology as a framework for resilience planning, tackling social, cultural, environmental, and economic challenges.

To learn more about the discussion, please review the group presentation here.

Gautam Sundaram