In 2009, four counties in southeast Florida (Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach) recognized the importance of unity and collaboration to address one challenge they all faced, climate change adaptation. Forming the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact solidified their cooperative efforts to protect coastal Floridian communities. Since then, the region has hosted annual Climate Leadership Summits to share and present innovative ideas designed for climate resiliency. This year, ICMA’s CityLinks program served as a silver-level sponsor of the summit and arranged for Debra Roberts, deputy head of the Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department of Durban, South Africa, to deliver the closing keynote speech.
CityLinks, an initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development, connected Broward County and Fort Lauderdale, both members of the compact, with Durban, South Africa, in July 2013. ICMA member and assistant city manager of Fort Lauderdale Susanne Torriente and Dr. Jennifer Jurado, director of natural resources, planning and management for Broward County, traveled to Durban for this city-to-city exchange. During their trip, they met with Ms.Roberts to discuss how the compact could be applied in South Africa to further implement the Durban Adaptation Charter (DAC). Early in 2013, ICMA assisted cities that had signed the charter by organizing a Durban Adaptation Charter Implementation Guidance Workshop where government officials established a governance framework designed to advance the international profile of adaptation. Interested to learn more about the compact and Florida’s climate change strategies, Ms. Roberts traveled to Fort Lauderdale for the Summit.
Completely sold out, the summit brought scientists, city managers, city administrators, business leaders, university students, and representatives of federal agencies to south Florida. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe gave the opening keynote and remarked, “The work in Southeast Florida has really caught the attention of the country and it is a powerful partnership evolving here to deal with the issues we all face … One of the greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century is working to solve climate change.” Mr. Perciasepe’s remarks underscore the importance of a key CityLinks priority: providing local governments with the necessary resources and strategies to protect their cities from climate change.
Panelists from the United States and Europe introduced innovative tools for local adaptation in the summit workshop. Dr. Ben Strauss, vice president for climate impacts and director of the program on sea level rise at Climate Central, presented Climate Central’s new vulnerability assessment that analyzes and visualizes threats of sea level rise. Dr. Hans Gehrels, sustainable cities market team manager for Deltares, shared his company’s most recent project, 3Di Water Management, a model that simulates flooding. A number of panel discussions followed throughout the rest of the summit revolving around lessons learned after Superstorm Sandy, federal leadership on climate action, and real estate, development, and insurance in Florida.
During the closing keynote, Debra Roberts explained her work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and expressed gratitude for ICMA’s assistance with the DAC. Commending ICMA and CityLinks for facilitating the exchange between Florida and South Africa, Debra said that U.S. involvement was critical for the DAC’s success. Fort Lauderdale and Broward County displayed their support for the DAC by becoming the first city and region in the United States to sign the charter.
In March 2014, CityLinks will send Durban city officials to Fort Lauderdale to complete the city-to-city exchange and learn more about the components of the compact to further implement the DAC.
To learn more about ICMA’s work in Durban and the CityLinks program, visit the website and the Notes from CityLinks blog, follow us on Twitter at @ICMACityLinks, and join the climate change discussion in the Climate Preparedness, Adaptation, and Resilience group on the Knowledge Network. Visit ICMA International’s site for additional information on ICMA’s other global projects.