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Waterfront Conference

Welcome aboard! Our annual Waterfront Conference—the conference on a boat—has grown into the region’s premier forum for dialogue and discourse about our shared waterfront. The event draws more than 600 participants, including policymakers, waterfront advocates, journalists, academics, as well as engineering, architecture, and nonprofit professionals. Each conference focuses on a different theme, with common threads including the working waterfront, waterfront access, climate change, resiliency, and governance.


Upcoming Waterfront Conference


Waterfront Scholars

 Calling all undergraduate and graduate students! The Waterfront Alliance invites you to apply to attend our annual Waterfront Conference as a 2021 Con Edison Waterfront Scholar 

Waterfront Scholars brings together a diverse group of college and graduate students for an exciting learning and networking opportunity at our Waterfront Conference, the region’s premier forum for dialogue and discourse about our shared waterfront and waterways. 

Please fill out this short application by Friday, April 16Waterfront Scholars will be invited to attend the Waterfront Conference free of charge and will be recognized at the event. 

Should you have any questions or need additional information, reach out to Natalia Da Silva at [email protected] or at 212.935.9831 x106.   

Past Conferences

View details about our past Waterfront Conferences, including photos and videos of the keynote addresses and panels.

  • 2020

    2020 Waterfront Conference

    Date TBD

    Due to COVID-19, this year's event was brought to attendees virtually from New York City.

    In 2020, Waterfront Alliance pivoted its annual conference and in-person events to widely popular virtual engagements. Three timely, topical, and dynamic Deep Dives webinar events culminated in Waterfront Alliance’s Regional Symposium. The package of hard-hitting policy panel discussions and speakers was in lieu of our annual, in-person 2020 Waterfront Conference, originally scheduled for May 12, 2020.

    April 15, 2020 – Resilience on the Waterways: COVID-19, Supply-Chains, and Local Maritime Ports

    April 22, 2020 – The Role of Risk Analysis and Assessment in Post-Pandemic Life

    April 29, 2020 – U.S. Army Corps Preparedness Strategies: From Climate to COVID-19

    May 4, 2020 – Rise to Resilience: The Climate’s Changing, Shouldn’t We?

    January 14, 2021 – Regional Symposium: Resilience and Recovery in a New Era

    Keynote Speakers:

    Michael Stamatis, Red Hook Terminals; Dr. Julie Pullen, Jupiter Intelligence; John Boulé, Dewberry

  • 2019

    2019 Waterfront Conference

    May 7, 2019

    Aboard the Hornblower Infinity
    Hudson River Park, Pier 40, New York, NY

    The 2019 Waterfront Conference—Rising Seas, Rising Risks— discussed progress on major resiliency projects and climate change adaptations from across the New York and New Jersey metropolitan region while assessing the challenges and opportunities for better preparedness.

    Keynote Speakers:

    Bill Solecki, Ph. D., CUNY—Hunter College, Co-Chair New York City Panel on Climate Change
    Chuck Nice, Comedian
    Costa Constantinides, New York City Council Member, Chair, Environmental Protection Committee
    Comptroller Scott M. Stringer

  • 2018

    2018 Waterfront Conference

    May 8, 2018

    Aboard the Hornblower Infinity
    Hudson River Park, Pier 40, New York, NY

    The 2018 Waterfront Conference—Cities on the Edge—explored how local and municipal leaders in New York City and coastal cities throughout the U.S. are leading the response to adapting to climate change.

    Keynote Speakers:

    Gale A. Brewer, Manhattan Borough President

  • 2017

    2017 Waterfront Conference

    May 10, 2017

    Aboard the Hornblower Infinity
    Hudson River Park, Pier 40, New York, NY

    The 2017 Waterfront Conference previewed the Waterfront Alliance’s new Harbor Scorecard and explored how we measure the resiliency, health, and accessibility of our waterfronts. The plenary session and keynote speakers addressed the question of our time: how change in Washington will undoubtedly affect our waterfronts and how we can work together to address the uncertain future ahead.

    Keynote Speakers:

    Bill de Blasio, Mayor, New York City and Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, Member of Congress

  • 2016

    2016 Waterfront Conference

    May 12, 2016

    Aboard the Hornblower Infinity
    Hudson River Park, Pier 40, New York, NY

    The 2016 Waterfront Conference explored the theme of defining and delivering equity at the waterfront. The conference provided a platform for participants to debate the future of our region’s waterfronts, tackling the challenges to defining and delivering equitable access to jobs, education, transportation, and recreation at the water’s edge.

    Keynote Speakers:

    Maria Torres-Springer, president and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation with Michael Sorkin, director of the Graduate Urban Design Program at The City College and president of Terreform, the Center for Advanced Urban Research

  • 2015

    2015 Waterfront Conference

    May 7, 2015

    Aboard the Hornblower Infinity
    Hudson River Park, Pier 40, New York, NY

    The theme of the 2015 Waterfront Conference was Shaping Your 21st Century Waterfront and included topics such as integrating ferry service into the mass transit network, preserving jobs at the working waterfront, and implementing greener shorelines. The plenary session highlighted Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement earlier in the year for the creation of a publicly subsidized, five-borough ferry network, to complement the needs of a growing city. For the first time we offered an interactive breakout session, which explored the City’s ongoing Coney Island Creek Tidal Barrier and Wetlands Feasibility Study.

    Keynote Speakers:

    Timothy Beatley, Ph.D., author, Blue Urbanism: Exploring Connections between Cities and Oceans; Teresa Heinz, Professor of Sustainable Communities, School of Architecture, University of Virginia

  • 2014

    2014 Waterfront Conference

    April 24, 2014

    Aboard the Hornblower Infinity
    Hudson River Park, Pier 40, New York, NY

    The theme of the 2014 Waterfront Conference was Rebuilding Our Waterfront: From the Water In, From the Grassroots Up. The conference placed a special focus on the remarkable grassroots, community-based waterfront plans developed before and after Superstorm Sandy, and took an early look at the de Blasio administration’s approach to waterfront policy.

    Keynote Speakers:

    Chris Ward, Executive Vice President, Dragados

  • 2013

    2013 Waterfront Conference

    April 9, 2013

    Aboard the Hornblower Infinity
    Hudson River Park, Pier 40, New York, NY

    The 2013 Waterfront Conference featured, for the first time, a forum for all major candidates for mayor of New York City. Each gave his or her vision of what our waterfront will look like in the decades to come, and how to make our shoreline more resilient in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

    Keynote Speakers:

    Seth Pinsky, president, New York City Economic Development Corporation

  • 2012

    2012 Waterfront Conference

    May 18, 2012

    Chelsea Piers and Frying Pan
    Hudson River Park, New York, NY

    New York City Deputy Mayors Robert K. Steel and Caswell F. Holloway joined the 2012 Waterfront Conference to assess the New York region’s waterfront revitalization, and to plan ways to continue this historic economic and environmental transformation.

    Keynote Speakers:

    Joshua Laird, assistant commissioner for planning & parklands, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

  • 2011

    2011 Waterfront Conference

    May 16, 2011

    Aboard The Spirit of New Jersey
    Pier 61, New York, NY

    The 2011 Waterfront Conference focused on a plan for the governance of our waterfront, using the newly released Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan and the Hudson-Raritan Estuary Comprehensive Restoration Plan as a guide.

    Keynote Speakers:

    Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, Paul Tonko, and Nydia Velázquez

  • 2010

    2010 Waterfront Conference

    November 30, 2010

    National Museum of the American Indian
    Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House
    One Bowling Green, New York, NY

    The 2010 Waterfront Conference gave powerful insights and best practices from along the East Coast to galvanize support, build energy and excitement, and continue the momentum needed to create a world class waterfront and harbor for New York and New Jersey.

  • 2008

    2008 Waterfront Conference

    November 13, 2008

    The National Museum of the American Indian
    One Bowling Green, New York, NY

    The 2008 Waterfront Conference addressed pressing questions facing the region’s waterfront, including: Will our economy be diversified with good paying maritime jobs? Will the water be clean enough for recreation and wildlife? Will all in the metropolitan area have access to the water and be able to play and learn at the water’s edge?

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