The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council hosted a regional conversation regarding Sea Level Rise and Climate Resilience on January 8, 2018. Pinellas County Commissioner Janet C. Long, Chair of the Tampa Bay RPC led the three-hour interactive discussion for more than two dozen local elected officials and climate resiliency experts.

Under Commissioner Long’s leadership, the Tampa Bay RPC is convening the region on a pressing issue that is impacting our local governments today and will continue to do so in the future.  Attendees heard presentations from three experts on sea level rise and climate resilience. The presentations included a discussion of the challenges ahead for local governments, the economic impacts of sea level rise, and one community’s response.

Dr. Jennifer Jurado, Chief Resilience Officer for Broward County provided an overview of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact initiative.  The compact of local governments which was initiated in 2009, hosts an annual summit and has produced a Regional Climate Action Plan to integrate climate adaptation and mitigation into existing systems and processes.  Tampa Bay RPC Executive Director, Sean Sullivan explained that, “The benefits of this successful regional approach is that it creates a stronger voice, accelerates progressive planning and leverages existing resources. And, by broadening partnerships and cultivating cooperation amongst our local governments, access to resources and information is enhanced.”

“Our objective at the regional planning council is to assist local governments with viable opportunities for implementing both adaptation strategies that increase the region’s resilience to sea level rise and other coastal hazards as well as an emissions reductions plan to avoid further vulnerabilities,” stated Long. “A Compact in our region will foster collaboration such as shared sea level rise projections so local governments can better coordinate, develop, and implement appropriate coastal adaptation and implement risk reduction strategies to reduce the drivers of sea level rise with the critical goal of maintaining our region’s wonderful quality of life for generations to come.”