Living on the Edge: Sea Level Rise

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June 30
9:30 am - 10:30 am
Live Online
Online DC United States


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This moderated panel discussion will focus on sea-level rise and its effect on resilient coastal development. With sea levels rising and increasingly volatile weather events becoming routine occurrences, ecological design, development, and investment have become critically important. Despite the documented risks of “Living on the Edge,” 2.4 billion people live within 100 kilometers of the coast; 600 million people live in coastal areas that are less than 10 meters above sea level. Developers, designers, and scientists have begun to conceptualize physical strategies to address the issue, but the financial numbers are daunting. It is a complex challenge with many layers: shoreline reconstruction, population relocation, water and green systems integration, transportation, adaptive development approaches, relocation costs, insurance, and much, much more. Moderated by SWA Group’s Sean O’Malley and Hart Howerton’s Tim McCarthy, the discussion will focus on designing and developing our cities with resiliency. Sean and Tim are joined by Michael Samuelian, a planning, and development consultant, former President & CEO of the Trust for Governors Island (NY), and former Vice President of Related Cos; Dr. Benjamin Horton, Chair of the Asian School of the Environment at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and the Principal Investigator of the Earth Observatory of Singapore, whose research uncovers fundamental knowledge about how sea level has changed in the past and how it may change in the future, including an array of implications for coastal regions; and Emilie Mazzacurati, founder and CEO of Four Twenty Seven (, a leading publisher and provider of data, market intelligence and analysis related to physical climate and environmental risks.

This webinar is sponsored by ULI’s Global Exchange Council.


Professor Benjamin Horton
Director, Earth Observatory of Singapore

Professor Benjamin Horton joined Nanyang Technological University in June 2017. In July 2018, he assumed the appointment of Chair, Asian School of the Environment. In 2019 he was awarded the President’s Chair in Earth Sciences. In 2020 he was made Director of The Earth Observatory of Singapore. Professor Horton was previously a Professor at Rutgers University and an Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Horton obtained his BA from the University of Liverpool, UK, and PhD from the University of Durham, UK. Professor Horton’s research concerns sea-level change. He aims to understand and integrate the external and internal mechanisms that have determined sea-level changes in the past, and which will shape such changes in the future. Professor Horton’s research impacts upon important ecological, ethical, social, economic and political problems specifically facing coastal regions.

Emilie Mazzacurati
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Four Twenty Seven

Emilie Mazzacurati is the founder and CEO of Four Twenty Seven (, a leading publisher and provider of data, market intelligence and analysis related to physical climate and environmental risks. Four Twenty Seven, an affiliate of Moody’s, provides climate risk screening for listed securities and real assets to help banks, financial institutions, corporations, and governments understand their exposure to the physical impacts of climate change and build resilience.

Emilie has published extensively on the impacts of climate change in financial markets, on climate risks disclosure (TCFD), and on adaptation finance opportunities. She also teaches at the University of California, Davis Executive MBA on Business & Climate Change. Previously, Emilie was Head of Research at Thomson Reuters Point Carbon, where she directed research and modeling on carbon pricing. She also served as a policy advisor to the Mayor of Paris on environmental policy. Emilie holds a Master’s of Political Science from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris and a Master’s of Public Policy from UC Berkeley.

Emilie is the recipient of multiple awards, including Top 100 People in Finance (2019), Berkeley Visionary Award (2016), and Cartier Women’s Initiative Award (2013). Four Twenty Seven was named 2019 Best Alternative Data Provider by Risk Magazine.

Michael M. Samuelian, FAIA, AICP
Founding Director, Urban Technology Hub, Cornell Tech

Michael Samuelian is an urban planner, real estate developer, professor and the founding director of the Urban Technology Hub at Cornell Tech. Most recently he was the President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. From the revitalization of Lower Manhattan after 9/11 to the creation of a new neighborhood in Hudson Yards and the activation of Governors Island, he’s helped plan, design and develop some of the most transformative projects in New York City. Prior to his appointment as President of the Trust, Michael was a Vice President with Related Companies, where he was responsible for the planning and design of Hudson Yards. After 9/11, Michael was the Director of Lower Manhattan Special Projects at the New York City Department of City Planning, helping the city’s efforts to redevelop downtown. Michael is a Fellow of the AIA and Chair of the New York State Board for Architecture.

Sean O’Malley, PLA
Managing Principal, SWA Laguna Beach

The Managing Principal of SWA’s Laguna Beach office, Sean O’Malley has more than 30 years of professional experience encompassing all aspects of landscape architecture, urban design and planning. His multidisciplinary skill set allows him to develop sophisticated design solutions at a variety of scales across the development transect. Sean has been passionate about utilizing ecological systems as an organizational framework throughout his career, and with climate change becoming the existential issue of our times, his focus on resiliency through design has become more important than ever. In addition to actively serving on ULI’s Global Exchange Council, Sean previously chaired the Southern California ULI Council on Community Planning and recently helped lead a ULI Technical Assistance Panel focused on revitalizing the Santa Ana River for the City of Anaheim.

J. Timothy (Tim) McCarthy II, AIA, LEED AP
Partner & Managing Principal, Hart Howerton

As Partner & Managing Principal of Hart Howerton, Tim directly engages clients in planning and designing market-driven solutions that produce outstanding business results.  His leadership of design teams has guided the implementation of projects in more than twenty countries across four continents.  Tim’s focus on resilience includes both the science of “building smart” in coastal settings as well as an embrace of designing for healthy living – the science of resilient community planning rooted in wellness. He continues to lead Hart Howerton’s sponsored research at the University of Virginia’s Center for Design & Health.  Additionally, he is an active contributor to ULI’s Building Healthy Places Initiative, was a Working Group Member for the International WELL Building Institute’s WELL “Community Standard,” and is an Advisory Board Member for Cornell University’s Institute for Healthy Futures.