The Nature Conservancy Responds to Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address

Praises Emphasis on Role of Nature in Making Communities More Disaster Resilient

New York | January 09, 2013

Today, as part of his State of the State Address, Governor Cuomo stressed the need to improve the strength and resiliency of New York State’s infrastructure and address our changing climate following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, based on the recommendations of the 2100 Commission and his other post-Sandy Commissions. The Nature Conservancy’s President and CEO, Mark Tercek, was named by the Governor to serve on the 2100 Commission.

"Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address included important themes based on the work of the NYS 2100 Commission, including the important role natural defenses or 'green infrastructure' must play in reducing risk and losses from future storms,” says Tercek.  “By comprehensively considering the full range of natural and man-made strategies for responding to the realities of a changing climate, New York can establish itself as a leader as the nation looks for cost-effective ways to help protect vulnerable and valuable infrastructure from natural disasters. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership and for embracing innovative solutions for better protecting people and property."

As part of his address today, the Governor emphasized the need for New York to not only recover from Sandy, but prepare for future extreme weather that will impact our communities.  The Nature Conservancy looks forward to working with local, state and federal officials to ensure that this recovery and our work to prepare for the future is done in a way that harnesses the benefits of natural systems to mitigate storm impacts.  Our wetlands, floodplains, rivers, dunes, and forests play critical roles in reducing risk to our communities, while providing many co-benefits that enhance local economies and our quality of life.

The 2100 Commission report expressly recommends that New York State adopt measures promoting the use of natural infrastructure through direct investment, new incentive programs, and education. Based upon the conclusion that land use protection will serve as New York’s first line of resilience to climate change over the coming decades, the Commissioners provided the Governor with a full menu of recommendations that protect and take advantage of the strength of our natural systems. 

Climate science indicates the trend of more frequent and extreme weather will continue.  As our climate changes, storm impacts may become even more dangerous for communities. In a post-Sandy world, there is now an opportunity to raise awareness about the risks of climate change and the need to get serious about disaster preparedness and understand the value of healthy ecosystems.  There is also an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change.  Today, Governor Cuomo announced his intention to reduce New York’s climate changing emissions in order to mitigate climate change and reduce its impacts.

Tercek also praised Governor Cuomo’s appointment of Richard Kauffman as the state’s new chairman for energy policy and finance, an important step in addressing climate change and clean energy.

“Richard Kauffman is a great leader with an especially impressive set of accomplishments in the renewable energy and clean technology fields.  He is a smart, no-nonsense leader with the right skills to help move New York toward a clean energy economy.”

Following today’s State of the State address, Governor Cuomo and state leaders will have the opportunity to begin implementing these important recommendations in the upcoming State Budget, through administrative agency action, and with legislation. Existing programs, including the Environmental Protection Fund, which the Governor recently committed to enhancing, can provide resources needed to protect and restore New York’s green infrastructure.  In addition, key policy changes, including the adoption of sea level rise projections for state planning and permitting purposes, can ensure local and state governments are using the most up-to-date science to protect public and private investments. 

The Nature Conservancy has been a leader in the United States and internationally in developing tools and implementing programs designed to mitigate the risks of weather related disasters. For example, the Conservancy’s Coastal Resilience web-based mapping tool helps local governments in the New York region plan by enabling them to assess sea level rise and coastal hazard risk. Other programs include oyster and wetland restoration in the Gulf of Mexico, coral reef restoration around the world, and initiatives to protect people from risks due to natural hazards.

For more information on The Nature Conservancy’s community resilience and disaster risk reduction work, visit 

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Rachel Winters

Jessica Ottney Mahar


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