Working together against climate change

Find out more about the Southwest Florida Regional Resiliency Compact… then urge local officials to join in this crucial effort.

Southwest Florida Regional Resiliency Compact

 What is resilience? Resilience is the capacity for dynamic systems to anticipate, plan for, and protect against stressors and shocks. In a changing climate, these stressors and shocks can include water quality issues, flooding, storms, extreme heat, harmful algal blooms, drought, and wildfires. Resilience requires building the capacity to not only survive, but also thrive in future conditions by adapting to and preventing negative impacts. A resilient Southwest Florida is one in which we have the infrastructure and policies that strengthen all of the interconnected and critical components of our vibrant communities, including our natural environment.

 What is a regional resiliency compact? Climate change impacts know no boundaries. The Southwest Florida Regional Resiliency Compact is an agreement between its members, county and municipal governments in Southwest Florida, to collaboratively identify, prepare for, adapt to, and mitigate climate change impacts. Upon joining the Compact, members ratify a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which is a non-legally binding agreement that lays out a commitment to “identifying common climate change vulnerability assessment methodologies; strategies for adaptation and mitigation actions that will enhance the resiliency of their communities; learning from one another’s prior efforts and planning documents; leveraging their resources; and pursuing public-private partnerships.”

 What areas will be included in the Compact? The area includes Charlotte, Collier, and Lee counties and municipalities within those counties.

 Why is a Compact important?

  • Southwest Florida is especially vulnerable to climate change impacts, including: sea-level rise, harmful algal blooms, rainfall, heat events, wildfires, droughts, flooding, and storms;
  • Sharing expertise and scientific resources will amplify efforts to generate and efficiently implement climate solutions in a region that shares similarities in economy, tourism, ecology, culture, and geography;
  • Promoting and sustaining natural resources is critical for the region’s economy and tourism. Keeping natural areas safe from climate change conditions will additionally provide valuable flood risk reduction and water quality benefits;
  • The Compact will support current local resilience efforts, such as addressing aging infrastructure, emergency management, and public health;
  • The unified voice of the Compact will better poise Southwest Florida to apply for federal funding and grants, to secure the necessary resources to move climate solutions forward, and to advocate for state and federal legislation that is responsive to the region’s needs;
  • Climate change is the greatest threat to birds. We know that what affects birds affects us. Protecting the vital habitat of birds and other species will also protect the natural infrastructure we rely on for tourism, recreation, and water quality.   

 What are the Compact objectives? Goals of the Compact include facilitating regional cooperation, sharing sound science and technical data, and developing a regional resiliency action plan that will identify and assess regional threats and vulnerabilities and propose actions to address them. Throughout that process the Compact will:

  • Adopt a curve for future sea-level rise planning
  • Develop modeling tools to help governments assess current and future vulnerabilities to sea level rise, storms, and freshwater flooding in SWFL
  • Coordinate best mitigation and adaptation practices
  • Seek funding and resources for climate efforts
  • Engage and collaborate with different stakeholders in the SWFL community to collaborate (organizations, businesses, associations, individuals, universities)
  • Develop a regional legislative strategy; develop regionally consistent education and messaging. 

Are there other compacts? Southeast Florida established a regional compact in 2010. Since then, the compact has completed a unified sea level rise projection (first released in 2011 and updated in 2015), finished a regional greenhouse gas emissions inventory, completed a regional sea level rise vulnerability analysis, and developed a Regional Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build climate resilience. The Tampa Bay area and East Central Florida have also formed regional efforts to tackle the effects of climate change. 

How will the Compact be governed? The MOU establishes that the Compact will be governed by a leadership committee that includes one representative from each member jurisdiction. The Compact operates in an advisory role and does not supersede the power or authority of any member to act individually. 

Can other organizations, groups, or agencies join the Compact? Upon initial approval and continued participation from the region’s governing jurisdictions, the Compact may welcome other stakeholders, including the business community, real estate, universities, NGOs, etc.

Courtesy Audubon and Eco-Voice

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