SWFL comes together in environmental alliance to prepare for climate change impacts

Reporter: Andrea Guerrero Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

Leaders from all over Southwest Florida are coming together in the Regional Resiliency Compact to determine how we will adapt to our ever-changing environment.

The compact includes Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties, as well as the specific municipalities of Bonita Springs, Estero, Naples and Marco Island, and even the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Not only will this group prepare Southwest Florida for climate change, it will also look at the impacts we will feel from sea level rise, storminess and warming temperatures.

We are already starting to see more powerful tropical storms and hurricanes as a result of the warming waters. With all these different groups working together on this project, it will make it easier to bring in state and federal money.

“One of the things that’s really important in preparing Florida for climate change, and sea level rise in particular, is creating spaces where communities can come together and collaborate, share the work they’re doing,” said Noah Valenstein, presidential fellow in water policy at Florida Gulf Coast University. “There’s all sorts of great work going on in Southwest Florida that sort of helped lift everyone up together so that they can prepare themselves for impacts, but also share information so that they can be better about bringing down both steady state and federal dollars.”

The idea is to make the right decisions now. The Compact wants to make sure our region is prepared via construction projects and natural ecosystem projects, aiding future generations and saving money in the future.

“Invest in projects; it’s anything from green infrastructure, planting mangroves, having living shorelines, to coming up with ways to have hardened structures,” Valenstein said. “You will need issues like infrastructure, like sea walls, elevating structures, but being able to do those type of more constructed projects in a way that maintains the type of community you want to live in.”

The Regional Resiliency Compact is being facilitated by the Water School at FGCU, Growing Climate Solutions and the Florida Conflict Resolution Consortium Consensus Center at Florida State University.

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