There is no question that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. More frequent and extreme storms, hotter temperatures and rising sea levels are linked to a changing climate that threatens people and nature alike in our region.
There is a lot of doubt and fear surrounding this topic, but here’s the good news: local government leaders are taking note and working together to make concrete strides to a more prosperous and equitable future for Southeast Florida.
The Southeast Florida region has been a leader in addressing climate change and rising seas. While we continue to face challenges, regional leaders have made remarkable progress during the last decade. And that will be the focus of the 10thAnnual Southeast Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit on Wednesday and Thursday at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
The summit, co-hosted by Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami Beach, will connect and educate attendees, forge new partnerships, and encourage creative approaches as we look back at the lessons learned and explore how we will surge ahead in the coming decade and beyond. You can read more about the current and past summitshere.
At the heart of regional climate action is the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, which is a collaboration of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties. The four governments coordinate mitigation and adaptation activities across county lines.
In 2012, the counties published the first Regional Climate Action Plan(RCAP). It is a guiding tool for coordinated climate action in Southeast Florida to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build climate resilience. In 2017, RCAP 2.0was released to reflect the lessons learned and actions taken in the first five years of implementation.
The compact has inspired similar collaborations across the state, country and world. Most recently, theTampa Bay Regional Resiliency Coalition established a collaboration based on the compact’s model.The compact also has inspired Miami-Dade County’s participation in the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities program in collaboration with the City of Miami Beach and the City of Miami.
Coined Greater Miami and the Beaches, it will be releasing a Resilient Strategy in the first quarter of 2019 addressing the physical, social and economic challenges our community faces.
The compact also has inspired various nonprofits and community groups to improve climate literacy and leadership. A decade ago, community events were sparse and poorly attended, but now it’s commonplace to see climate inspired art, music, prose and events almost every night of the week.
The week of the summit is a great example. Each night leading up to the summit will feature events celebrating, educating and encouraging climate action. Previously, media coverage was limited, but a decade later we a have a media collaborative, The Invading Sea, dedicated to informing the public about the threat of sea-level rise to the region.
Reflecting back on the past decade, you can see that a lot has changed. Damage from the warming climate is a reality, but so is climate action. Being at the forefront of this issue has not been easy, but the efforts have been fruitful. Our collective actions have attracted international and national funders, think tanks and visioning competitions that have made our region a template for 21st century solutions and the research home for innovative climate leaders. We will continue to be leaders in building a climate resilient region where our people, commerce, and natural capital thrive in the face of a changing climate. Together we can build a better and more equitable community for South Floridians.
James Murley is the Chief Resilience Officer for Miami-Dade County and a member of the host committee for the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit.
“The Invading Sea” is a collaboration of four South Florida media organizations — the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post and WLRN Public Media.