At the Rising Seas Summit on Thursday, June 20, 2013, Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs referred to the county’s efforts to address concern over increasing extreme weather and energy challenges. As an Inaugural Signatory of the Resilient Communities for America campaign, Mayor Jacobs is one among 53 mayors and county officials, who have signed onto the national campaign to date. These officials include Mayor Vincent Gray of Washington, D.C.; Mayor Kevin Johnson of Sacramento, Calif.; Mayor John Cook of El Paso, Texas; Mayor Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken, N.J. and Mayor Seiler of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Launched Monday, June 17, 2013, the campaign recognizes that local governments like Broward County and Fort Lauderdale are on the front lines of responding to increasing disasters and disruptions fueled by a changing climate. With an unprecedented increase in heat waves, droughts, floods, severe storms, and wildfires over the past two years, this devastation to communities came at a cost of $188 billion dollars. Every $1 spent on disaster risk reduction can save $4 in recovery and emergency response costs which makes resilience efforts a sound community investment.
“We cannot ignore the challenges we face in Broward County and so many other regions across the country,” said Mayor Jacobs. “We’re not seeing enough action from the federal government on climate change and extreme weather, so it’s up to us at the local level. Southeast Florida has risen to the challenge as the collaborative efforts of the four counties of southeast Florida, working together as the Southeast Florida Climate Change Compact, so clearly demonstrates. Our region is already a national leader on climate and adaptation issues, and I am committed to helping Broward County become even more resilient and prepared—to keep our communities safe and strong and keep our economy competitive.”
Leading by example, it is hoped that by highlighting and championing the work of local elected officials and local governments, the Resilient Communities for America campaign can inspire hundreds more to follow their lead to better prepare and protect community members, businesses, infrastructure, and natural resources.
South Florida, as it was clearly demonstrated and discussed at length during the recent Rising Seas Summit which ran from June 17 – 20, 2013 at the Westin Hotel, is more vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather and rising sea levels than almost any other area in the country. Preparing for tropical storms and hurricanes is a fact of life for South Floridians, however, it has been predicted by reliable scientific models that we will experience higher sea levels, more intense storms, bigger storm surges, more serious flooding, and greater wind damage. This will make it more difficult to drain flooded areas to the ocean after a storm, additionally increasing the risk of saltwater intrusion in the aquifer which supplies Broward County’s drinking water.
In response to these challenges, Broward County has already taken a range of cost-effective actions that increase our resilience:
• Streamlining the permitting process for rooftop solar photovoltaic systems through the Go Solar program increasing access to renewable energy.
• Collaborating with Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties in the Southeast Florida Climate Change Compact, which has developed a unified sea level rise project, baseline greenhouse gas inventory, vulnerability analysis, and a Regional Climate Action Plan (RCAP) with 110 action items for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change.
• Adding a Climate Element to the Broward County Comprehensive Plan and adopting changes to the county’s land use maps to encourage greater consideration of sea level rise and other climate impacts on development in vulnerable areas.
The Resilient Communities for America Agreement lays out three commitments for local elected officials:
• To urge state and federal leaders to support local resilience initiatives and to take meaningful steps to build resilience and security throughout the nation.
• To commit to building community resilience through their own local actions and goals (emphasizing actions that address climate change, energy security, infrastructure renewal, and economic recovery).
• To commit to share their solutions, success stories and annual progress with other local governments through the Resilient Communities for America online platform.
Learn more at resilientamerica.com.