The Sinking Cities Project

As world leaders continue to debate the appropriate course of action to deal with climate change (and in some cases even questioning if climate change is real), coastal areas around the world are already experiencing the effects of a changing climate.

Ocean levels are slowly rising, the frequency and intensity of major storms is increasing, and precipitation patterns are changing. By the end of the century oceans are predicted to rise between .3 and 2.5 meters, effectively flooding a number of major urban centers around the world.  

The Sinking Cities Project uses a journalistic approach to photography, video and writing to document the major changes already underway in coastal urban areas around the world - the Sinking Cities. The Project also recognizes that necessity is the mother of invention. In the face of severe environmental changes, the Sinking Cities Project captures the creative adaptations to this new norm by the residents and governments of the Sinking Cities.

In our storytelling, we adhere to strict journalistic ethics and standards. We value our independence and put accountability above everything else.

Initially the Sinking Cities Project will focus on three cities in Southeast Asia, South Asia and the United States. The Project plans to include additional cities in the near future.

In Jakarta, Indonesia the Sinking Cities Project examines efforts to improve the management of the city during severe annual flooding. The Project explores the use of social media to crowdsource flood reporting information. The resulting real-time map of flooded streets helps residents and the government to navigate and manage the flood waters. Across the city, the Project then examines how a massive $40 Billion flood mitigation project is negatively affecting the very people the infrastructure is meant to support.

In Khulna and Mongla, Bangladesh the Sinking Cities Project documents how people living in the world's largest Delta are adapting to persistent flooding. The Project follows climate change refugees that have lost their agricultural crops to erosion and stormwater and are forced to move to large urban areas for work. The Project then examines how some farmers are adapting their rice seeds to be more resistant to saltwater or are switching entirely from agriculture to aquaculture.

In Norfolk, United States the Sinking Cities Project captures how a key U.S. city attempts to proactively adapt to climate change. The city government here uses aggressive planning and the most up-to-date climate change predictions to examine the effects of flooding and secure their resident’s livelihoods. The Project then documents the role planning for climate change has on protecting key U.S. assets including the strategic Naval Base located in Norfolk.

We aim to put faces and stories on numbers and statistics. With funding from the Midwest Institute, the work of the Sinking Cities Project will be exhibited in 60 Community Colleges around the U.S. Through this multimedia exhibition and public presentations, the Project aims to accomplish two objectives -

  1. To increase awareness of the effects and immediacy of climate change.
  2. To spark creative discussions around adaptation strategies to climate change, using the narratives documented in the Sinking Cities Project as leads.

To that end, the Sinking Cities Project will be actively publishing stories in a selection of traditional and social media outlets.

The Sinking Cities Project welcomes comments, critiques and suggestions. The Project also actively seeks sponsorship for further exhibitions and publications.

Please email Frank Sedlar (frank[at] or Marcin Szczepanski (marcin[at]


June, 2017