Southeast Florida

Grant Type: 2010 Regional Planning (category 1)

Grant Amount: $4,250,000

Lead Organization: South Florida Regional Planning Council

ABOUT THE REGION

The Southeast Florida region is comprised of Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties. With an estimated 2013 population of more than 6.4 million, this region is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. Southeast Florida’s population is expected to grow by three million residents by 2060 to a projected population of 9,100,000. These seven counties, though diverse, have much in common includ- ing a shared history, environment and watershed, economic interdependence, transportation system, as well as recreational, social and cultural activities.

Southeast Florida is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise impacts because of its low topography; limestone foundation (which makes the building of barriers to prevent sea level rise costly if not impractical); dense coastal population; hurricanes and accompanying storm surge; and transportation, energy, and water management infra- structure that is located in coastal areas.

For more than five years, there has been a collaborative approach to climate action in the region. In 2010, four counties (Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe) came together to form the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact. Since that time, they have completed a number of important studies and reports that provide information and strategies to address some of these challenges.

PROJECT SUMMARY AND GOALS

Seven50: Southeast Florida Prosperity Plan was developed with a Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant and significant match from Southeast Florida Regional Partnership members. The plan included a 50-year vision for seven counties in southeast Florida, including the four Compact counties. In the plan, the Southeast Florida Regional Partnership identified key regional initiatives that will enhance economic development and competitive- ness, environmental sustainability, and communities through a focus on broad-based inclusion and access to opportunity. Broadly stated, these initiatives are focused on issues related to Everglades and waterways; balanced mobility; climate preparedness and resilience; education and workforce; and economic competitiveness and opportunity. These initiatives require continued community support and significant regional and local leadership to successfully move them forward.

THE CHALLENGES AHEAD

  • One of the biggest challenges facing Southeast Florida is the projected impact of climate change and sea level rise on the region’s infrastructure, economy, communities (particularly vulnerable populations), and environmental resources and unique
  • Framing, messaging, communication and engagement strategies are needed to translate climate risk into a compelling call to action for diverse audiences. It is important to communicate to local governments, residents, and other stakeholders how climate impacts may affect their community in areas such as health, economic development and business climate, culture, and environmental justice.
  • In a diverse, large region with many completing interests, a continuing challenge is the successful manage- ment of different agendas, priorities and interests which must align to support policy and investment deci- sions that will enhance the region’s resiliency and community prosperity. It is important for stakeholders to align their goals and activities to enhance efficiency, enhance stewardship and strategic use of limited resources, reduce duplication of effort where appropriate, and create better outcomes for Southeast
  • Regional and community level data across myriad topic areas can increase understanding of the spatial distribution of risks and opportunities, and enhance understanding about the vulnerability of a particular community. A comprehensive data repository, visualization tools, policy analysis and technical assistance can support and facilitate the translation of science and data into effective policy, stakeholder engagement and positive

PROMISING PRACTICES OR INNOVATIONS

  • The Southeast Florida Regional Partnership has undertaken a number of equity-related efforts  including:
    • A Southeast Florida Economic Summit which focused on demographic change and brought together several hundred people for a conversation on demographic change in the region.
    • Working with PolicyLink and the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) to develop the Southeast Florida Equity Profile.
    • Development of a seven-county Fair Housing and Equity Assessment (FHEA) to inform and shape the Seven50
    • “Regional Opportunity Day” where stakeholders from around the region met in person and through video conferencing to hear, review and comment on the Fair Housing and Equity Assessment find- ings and
    • Community-based meetings to secure input from community-based stakeholders into the plan.
    • Regional Leadership and Opportunity Workgroup as part of the Seven50 Plan work groups.
  • The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact provides a unique model of regional collaboration for climate action. The Compact was a key partner in the development of the Southeast Florida Prosperity Plan and provided technical advice on climate change issues and assisted Martin, Lucie and Indian River counties in their efforts to advance their climate planning efforts.
  • At the 2009 Southeast Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit, local diversity in sea level rise (SLR) projections was highlighted as a concern and a barrier to achieving regionally consistent adaptation poli- cies and to demonstrating a coordinated local effort to higher political levels. Following the Summit, the Compact moved to unify existing local SLR projections and create a single regional SLR projection. The Compact also developed vulnerability assessments that can be used to understand how different sea level rise scenarios are likely to impact the built and natural environments of Southeast Florida.
  • The Prosperity Plan will inform the update of the region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDs) that guides federal economic development funding from the US Economic Development
  • In 2011, the Florida Legislature creating an optional “Adaptation Action Areas” (AAA) comprehensive plan designation for areas uniquely vulnerable to climate impacts, including sea level rise, to serve as a plan- ning tool and encourage technical assistance and funding opportunities. In 2013, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity funded the South Florida Regional Planning Council, Broward County and Fort Lauderdale to produce a local government guidebook, podcasts and a video based on the experience of the Compact partners using the AAA.
  • On the regional and state level, the Florida Department of Transportation is working to integrate climate resiliency into their planning processes, as are the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organizations.