The village of Newtok in Southwest Alaska has been facing extreme erosion related to permafrost degradation for years. Efforts to relocate the village to a new site, called Mertarvik, are underway, but the rate of erosion threatens the existing community before the development of Mertarvik is completed. A lack of policy designed to address community relocation at the state and federal level has created challenging conditions for Newtok to move forward with relocation.
As sea levels continue to rise, it is inevitable that more communities in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and across the state will face similar issues in the future. By engaging and activating the philanthropic sector in partnership with government and other nonprofit organizations, we can create a collaboration that helps Newtok specifically in achieving relocation at the individual level, but which also establishes policy and best practices for community relocation at the state and national levels.