Environmental Role-Play:

Flooding and Climate Change Risks in Northam


Seven-person, multi-issue facilitated negotiation among local government, community, business, environmental, and engineering representatives trying to reach agreement on a strategy for managing climate change risks in a small coastal city


Please note: you must order a copy (a.k.a. license/usage fee) for every person participating in the simulation in your course. This simulation has multiple roles, so you will be unable to complete your purchase without meeting the minimum quantity requirement of copies per role.

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Soft copy vs. hard copy

You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You will have one week to download your materials from when you receive the email. You are then only authorized to use, print, or share the materials as many times as the number of copies you purchase. The TNRC charges for use of this simulation on a per-participant basis. Therefore, you must purchase a separate copy of this simulation for each person who will be participating, regardless of the number of roles in the simulation. You will only receive a link to one electronic file, which includes all general instructions, confidential instructions, and any teaching notes for the simulation. You should separate out the instructions before distributing to participants.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at tnrc@law.harvard.edu or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at tnrc@law.harvard.edu, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, a PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package for the simulation is available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. All Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters.

Ordering copies for multiple participants

To order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Quantity.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required.

If you are ordering hard copies, the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Quantity.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.

Bulk Pricing Discount

For bulk orders, we offer the following pricing discounts. Please note that these only apply to bulk orders of the same simulation.

  • Between 100-250 copies – 10% discount
  • Between 251-500 copies – 25% discount
  • More than 500 copies – 50% discount
Log In or Register to download the free Teacher's Package Sample.

Flooding and Climate Change Risks in Northam is a seven-person, multi-issue facilitated negotiation among local government, community, business, environmental, and engineering representatives trying to reach agreement on a strategy for managing climate change risks in a small coastal city.


The game focuses on managing increased probability of urban flooding by modifying stormwater regulations. It is one of four exercises developed as part of the New England Climate Adaptation Project.* The Northam game highlights decision-making dilemmas around implementation timelines and the use of scientific models. Financial comparisons are not explicitly listed for each regulatory option, but concerns about spending are embedded in the various stakeholder interests.



The 30,000-person coastal city of Northam has a flooding problem. Flooding in the city originates from two sources: 1) stormwater runoff from buildings and roads and 2) overflow from two tidal rivers that run through the heart of the city. In the past few years, flooding from both sources has led to costly damage and loss of business, and the threat of flooding in Northam appears to be getting worse due to climate change. The recent storm is the second “100-year storm” that Northam has experienced in the last five years. Not only have these storms increased the frequency of river flooding, they have also caused sewer collection systems to occasionally overflow on streets and into storm drains.


In response to public concern, Northam’s Planning Board decided to approach its Master Plan review process differently than it has in the past. The Planning Director appointed four advisory committees to discuss some of the city’s regulations and services that could be impacted by climate change, and to make recommendations about what Northam should do going forward. One of these advisory committees focuses on subdivision regulations and stormwater management. The advisory committee, which includes city officials and community leaders, has been tasked with generating recommendations about how existing subdivision and stormwater management regulations can be changed to manage flooding risk in Northam now and into the future. The recommendations of the advisory committee are likely to be accepted by the Planning Board.


Major lessons

  • Climate change adaptation poses difficult planning choices, but there are actions cities and towns can take now to protect themselves that will be beneficial regardless of how severe climate change risks turn out to be.
  • Development, conservation, and infrastructure investments decisions made today will continue to affect communities far into the future. Short-term actions that do not take long-term climate change risks into account could prove extremely costly in the long run.
  • A community-wide approach to managing the collective risks associated with climate change can create opportunities to address other issues while reducing vulnerability and enhancing community resilience.
  • Communities must assess their vulnerabilities and decide which adaptation strategies are most appropriate.
  • Stakeholders may have conflicting interests that shape their views about which public policy choices make the most sense. By working collaboratively and taking science into account, communities can find creative solutions that meet the interests of diverse stakeholders.
  • At-risk towns and cities will have to consider how the financial responsibility for reducing climate risks will be distributed and whose responsibility it is to implement adaptation measures.



This exercise requires seven roles: six stakeholders and one facilitator. Multiple groups of seven can play at the same time. Where there are uneven multiples of seven, players may be doubled up in certain roles.


Total time requirement: 2 – 3 hrs

Preparation: 30 minutes

Negotiation: 60 – 75 minutes

Debriefing: minimum of 30 minutes, during which players can reflect on the game experience and how it relates to real life situations


Teaching Materials:

For all parties:

  • General instructions, including climate change projections and subdivision regulations



  • Confidential instructions for:
    • Planning Director
    • Public Works Director
    • City Engineer
    • Chamber of Commerce President and Developer
    • Resident
    • Conservation Commission Chair
    • Facilitator


Teacher’s Package

  • All of the above
  • Teaching Notes


* The other three exercises developed as part of the New England Climate Adaptation Project include:

Coastal Flooding and Climate-Related Risks in Launton

Coastal Flooding in Shoreham: Responding to Climate Change Risks

Flooding in Milton: Collectively Managing Climate Change Risks


Flooding and Climate Change Risks in Northam Attributes

Time required: 2-3 hours
Number of participants: 7
Teams involved: No
Agent present: No
Neutral third party present: Yes
Scoreable: No
Teaching notes available: Yes
Author: New England Climate Change Adaptation Project