Climate change and the resulting rising sea level encroaching on Palm Beach County’s coastal communities has united a group of leaders from 11 local communities.
The Palm Beach County Coastal Resilience Partnership (CRP) announced its collaboration in January after receiving funding from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Resilient Coastlines Program (FRCP) in order to take a coordinated approach to planning for sea level rise and coastal resilience efforts.
Kicking off the CRP’s efforts, over 30 representatives from the municipalities convened on Feb. 28 at the Swinton Operational Complex in Delray Beach to craft guiding principles of the partnership.
Boynton Beach Sustainability Coordinator Rebecca Harvey, who is managing the grant-funded portion of the project, stated, “It is truly inspiring to have so many of our local leaders ready to take action on climate change. With the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s support, we are able to face this challenge as a united force.
“Approaching climate adaptation as a regional partnership will enable our communities to avoid costs while creating a more robust and consistent approach to climate adaptation,” she said.
The CRP consists of Palm Beach County, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Briny Breezes, Delray Beach, Gulf Stream, Highland Beach, Hypoluxo, Lake Worth, Lantana, and Ocean Ridge.
Representatives from each government have informally met throughout the past year to discuss resiliency. Capitalizing on this collaborative opportunity, Boynton Beach applied for a Resilience Planning Grant through FRCP that has allowed the CRP to formalize.
Facilitating the CRP, Carollo Engineers, Inc. is providing environmental and climate adaptation consulting to synthesize geographical data, perform a data gap analysis, and develop the framework for a climate vulnerability assessment.
Vice President and Senior Project Manager of Carollo Engineers, Juan Oquendo commented, “Our team is sincerely humbled and proud to be part of the CRP in uniting the region and paving the way for a cohesive climate adaptation strategy. As a local resident, I have experienced firsthand effects of climate change and rising sea levels and I am excited to take action.”
The CRP’s first phase of efforts includes developing a climate vulnerability assessment, performing a gap analysis using geographical data from each municipality, and raising awareness and engaging the public throughout this endeavor.
Harvard University Law School’s Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic is providing pro bono assistance to formalize the collaboration, develop terms for a joint request for proposals, and contribute information on climate vulnerability assessment best practices.
During the kick-off meeting, CRP members considered many factors that will play a role in planning efforts. Members discussed how the CRP will foster synergy among coastal communities and provide a consistent methodology for assessing climate vulnerability, prioritizing needs and delivering on adaptation strategies.
The CRP will collect and monitor regional data to stay current with flood, erosion and habitat changes along the Palm Beach County coast.
Future CRP meetings are already scheduled throughout the late spring and summer where members will continue laying the groundwork to achieve a regional resilience planning strategy that works for all communities.
For more information on the Coastal Resilience Partnership, please contact Bethany Lawler at Beth@themerchantstrategy.com.
“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.