Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact
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Posted bySteve Adams
The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact was signed by Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Monroe counties in 2009 to coordinate mitigation and adaptation activities across county lines. The Compact represents a new form of regional climate governance designed to allow local governments to set the agenda for adaptation while providing an efficient means for state and federal agencies to engage via technical assistance and support. The partnership provides regional guidance and knowledge exchange opportunities to facilitate regional climate adaptation collaboration.
The first Southeast Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit was held on October 23, 2009 in Broward County. Representatives from Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Monroe counties were in attendance along with federal and state policymakers, planners, and developers, among others. Speakers addressed topics ranging from security issues to economic impacts and discussed mitigation and adaptation strategies. At the conclusion of the day-long summit, four-county representatives—Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs, Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Katy Sorenson, and Monroe County Mayor George Neugent—signed the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact.
The Compact acknowledges the vulnerability of the region to sea level rise and other climate change impacts where the four counties share coastal boundaries and resources (e.g., Everglades, coral reefs). The Compact also recognizes the importance of a collaborative approach to climate action to diminish these risks. The Compact calls for the counties to work cooperatively in order to:
- Develop a climate response strategy for the region;
- Encourage federal funding to support regional action;
- Develop a coordinated response to proposed state climate legislation and policies; and
- Dedicate staff time and resources to create a Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Action Plan to include mitigation and adaptation strategies.
Following its announcement in October 2009, the Compact was ratified in January 2010 via ordinance by each county commission.
In 2010, the focus was on developing an enabling governance process to help the four counties effectively work together to meet Compact objectives. A Compact Staff Steering Committee was created, comprising representatives from each county, to act as an effective decision-making body. The counties assigned senior personnel to the committee including county managers, deputy managers, sustainability directors, and environmental department directors. As this effort has advanced, the partnership between the counties has itself come to be known as the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact.
Two of the four counties had previously completed county-level climate adaptation plans prior to the initiation of the Compact. However, each used different rates of sea level rise through 2100 in these plans, which created challenges in communicating local needs to state and federal legislators and to the broader public. The Compact Staff Steering Committee identified the need for a unified sea level rise projection for use in regional planning and communications prior to the development of a Regional Climate Action Plan. A technical advisory group of local scientists from academia and federal, state, and local agencies assessed sea level rise science and provided a recommendation for use in the planning process. The unified projection was first released in 2011 and updated in 2015 and 2019. The latest update provides sea level rise projections through 2120, ranging from 10–17 inches by 2040, 21–54 inches by 2070, and 40–126 inches by 2120.
The Compact conducted a vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning process to develop the Regional Climate Action Plan (RCAP), first released in 2012 and updated in 2017. The RCAP is intended to be updated every five years to reflect lessons learned, actions taken, and updated goals.
The Compact collaborates through the RCAP, which provides implementation plans on topics such as agriculture, energy, natural systems, public health, economic resilience, emergency management, social equity, transportation, and water management. These priorities are available in RCAP 2.0, an online tool that allows stakeholders to customize implementation plans based on their needs, priorities, and the scale of their communities.
In addition to the plan, the partnership has hosted leadership summits to maintain engagement and advance progress on climate action. At the 2017 summit, the local economic development community and county mayors convened to sign a statement pledging their intent to collaborate on building regional economic resilience through stronger public-private partnerships.
Outcomes and Conclusions
This agreement establishes a framework in which the four counties can share resources and information and collaborate on strategies to address climate change. The Compact is widely recognized as a leading example in regional-scale collaboration on climate adaptation. The regional scale of this effort has enabled stakeholders to develop strategies that effectively integrate human communities and natural systems. The RCAP has effectively connected adaptation efforts within the four counties with broader efforts such as the restoration of the Everglades and protection of the Southeast Florida coral reef tract. As the Compact is led by local governments, it has become a highly efficient mechanism for state and federal engagement in the local process. Since its initial creation in 2009, the Compact has received extensive technical support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as well as the Florida Department of Transportation, the Florida Department of Community Affairs, and the South Florida Water Management District.
Gregg, R. M. and Adams, S. (2021). Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact [Case study on a project of the Institute for Sustainable Communities]. Version 2.0. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: https://www.cakex.org/case-studies/southeast-florida-regional-climate-change-compact (Last updated October 2021)