Planning and Policy
Tue, 6 Dec, 16:00 - 17:30 Central Time (UTC -6)
Moderator: Ann Redmond, Brown and Caldwell
Track: Planning, Policy and Advocacy
The Landscape of State Resilience and Adaptation Planning in 2022
In recent years, survivors have displayed extraordinary resilience in the face of disasters, but no individual, family, or community can be asked—or should be expected—to withstand and bounce back from these increasingly frequent and severe climate disasters. That’s why pre-disaster mitigation and adaptation planning are so important—and states have a critical role to play. States are linchpins between local and federal government, helping communities access resources and implement solutions. They can also evaluate and address flood risk at the watershed scale, beyond local jurisdictional boundaries. New research conducted by The Urban Institute on behalf of the State Resilience Partnership—a community of practice convened by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the American Flood Coalition bringing together 19 organizations representing higher education, environmental activism, and smart development—outlines challenges states are facing as they craft and attempt to implement adaptation plans, and in particular their flood planning efforts. “State Flood Resilience and Adaptation Planning: Challenges and Opportunities” provides a first-of-its-kind assessment of state resilience and adaptation planning to date. Mathew Sanders, senior manager with The Pew Charitable Trusts’ flood-prepared communities project, will share research findings and discuss implications and opportunities for all 50 states and U.S. territories. The research revealed gaps in state planning, including insufficient consultation with low-income neighborhoods and communities of color in flood planning, consideration of changing flood conditions, and resources to support local projects. The report also provides recommendations for how to improve state plans through use of forward-looking modeling and data, identification of specific implementation strategies, and setting metrics to measure progress. The presentation will additionally draw on specific examples from deep dives on statewide flood resilience activities including in North Carolina, Florida, and Washington.
Holding States Accountable for Harmful Algal Blooms: A Florida Case Study
Agricultural runoff is a principal source of nutrient pollution in the United States. Intensive agricultural practices have resulted in decades of phosphorus and nitrogen accumulating in the natural system and continue to contribute substantially to nutrients entering watersheds. Coupled with failed water quality control measures, this water pollution has led to some of the worst harmful algal blooms (HABs) in recorded history. These nonpoint sources need to be addressed to restore and protect water quality. Florida’s Lake Okeechobee watershed provides an apt case study. Commonly referred to as the “liquid heart” of the Everglades, the lake has experienced a proliferation of HABs, sometimes covering an area of more than 500 square miles and observable from space. When the lake reaches levels that pose a flooding risk to communities to the south, water managers frequently discharge water from the Lake to coastal estuaries. These HABs cause additional harm and destruction to wildlife and pose a threat to human health and local economies. Our presentation seeks to provide water quality advocates, lawmakers, and government agencies with a regulatory and policy framework for addressing HABs in their states, using Lake Okeechobee and its coastal estuaries as a case study.
Governance and the Mangrove Commons: Advancing the Cross-Scale, Nested Framework for the Global Conservation and Wise Use of Mangroves
Mangroves provide critical ecosystems services, contributing an estimated 42 billion US dollars to global fisheries, storing 25.5 million tons of carbon per year, and providing flood protection to over 15 million people annually. Yet, they are increasingly threatened by factors ranging from local resource exploitation to global climate change, with an estimated 35% of mangrove forests lost in the past two decades. These threats are difficult to manage due to the intrinsic characteristics of mangrove systems and their provisioning services, and their transboundary and pan-global nature. Due to their unique intertidal ecological niche, mangroves are often treated as a “common pool resource” within national legal frameworks, making them particularly susceptible to exploitation. Moreover, they form ecological connections through numerous biotic and abiotic processes that cross political boundaries. Because of these qualities a cross-scale nested framework of international, regional, and local coordination is necessary to successfully sustain mangrove ecosystems and their valuable services. Although coordination across the geopolitical spectrum is often cited as a need for effective management of common resources such as mangroves, there has been no formal analysis of mangrove multiscale governance. In this paper we address this gap by providing a comprehensive analysis of interactions between and within international, regional, and local mangrove management regimes and examine the challenges and opportunities such multiscale governance frameworks present. We highlight Costa Rica as a case study to demonstrate the universal relevance and potential of multi-scale governance and explore its downscale potential. Using Elinor Ostrom's principles for self-governance of the commons as our touchstone, we identify where improvements to the status quo could be implemented to increase its effectiveness of the current frameworks to meet the ongoing challenge of managing mangrove-derived resources and services in the face of a changing climate and human needs.
The Confluence of Water and Environmental Justice: A Systematic Literature Review
Environmental sustainability efforts need to consider how the environmental inequities faced by those living, playing, and working in estuarine and wetland environments are considered in their goals of sustainability. Environmental justice refers to equitable access for all people to a safe and healthy environment and works to correct injustices in which communities of color and other marginalized groups are disproportionately burdened with environmental harms (EPA, 2020). The environmental justice (EJ) movement seeks to achieve this equity through grassroots mobilization (Bullard, 1983; Mohai & Bryant, 2020). Along with on-the-ground activism, there also has been an active research focus on EJ for nearly forty years, which has continually focused largely on air pollution as a cause of injustice (Bullard, 1983), and EJ research regarding water has been nearly wholly focused on drinking water (i.e., Greenberg, 2016). In preparing for future research to tackle inequities related to water, and specifically wetlands and estuaries, it is essential to first understand the current state of the research. While there have been past studies that look at newspaper coverage of water concerns (Comby et al., 2021; Yan et al., 2019), there is minimal review of the academic literature. This project sought to identify and analyze the breadth of peer-reviewed research on environmental justice and water beyond drinking, and to identify recommended future research and practice collaborations based on this analysis. This involved a systematic literature review to facilitate an understanding of the general scope and nature of discourse of extant literature on our topic of environmental justice and water (Petticrew and Roberts, 2008). This presentation will present the wetland and estuary-related findings of this review, including how these papers engage with justice and water, and recommendations for further research to address current gaps.
Addressing Flooding and Water Quality through Engagement of “Teens with a Purpose” at Purpose Park in Norfolk, VA
In 2021, CBF started a pilot program installing small green infrastructure practices in the Hampton Roads area. These green infrastructure practices included tree plantings, rain barrel installs, rain gardens, and shoreline grass plantings. CBF staff worked with localities and community groups to locate areas in need of these types of projects which led us to Teens With a Purpose (TWP) and their amazing group of volunteers. TWP is a youth empowerment organization that gives teens in the Hampton Roads community a safe space to learn, to create, and to grow. Purpose Park, TWP's community garden, is an oasis located in the middle of downtown Norfolk. It was important to CBF and TWP that the teens had a hand in all elements of the project. When TWP was originally mapping out Purpose Park with representatives from Virginia Tech, they had identified that water seemed to pool in the grass area parallel to Nicholson Street and that this may be an ideal location for a future rain garden. Following a successful joint tree planting, CBF approached TWP about the idea of installing a rain garden, so they pointed out this area and agreed to partner with us on a rain garden project. The logistics of planning and installing a rain garden are more complicated than tree plantings but the skills the teens acquired during the process were invaluable. For instance, the teens used a Flex survey tool and Collector for ArcGIS app to map out the perimeter of the drainage area and the location of the existing structures. The teens then used these tools plus survey spray paint to map out the actual shape of the rain garden on site. The project was a successful community effort, and worthy of sharing the story. For more information, see this Story Map here.