With hopes of establishing a Florida Climate Institute hub, Commissioner Beam Furr appeals to the members of the Florida Climate Institute at a Southeastern Universities Research Alliance workshop, hosted by Broward County.

“With a view of the spirit of the Holiday Season,” opens Furr,  “I want to share with you a story about what can be done when we work together.”

Enter the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact (Compact). Formalized in early 2010 as a voluntary collaboration among Broward, Miami- Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach Counties to further their shared climate mitigation and adaptation objectives, the Compact has expanded to include municipalities, the participation of the South Florida Water Management District and the South Florida Regional Planning Council. 

“This is not to forget the many outside partners whose work supported various Compact projects,” states Furr. “ I am extremely grateful for all of those who laid the groundwork to make this partnership possible, because in my role as the Chair of the Broward County Climate Change Task Force, I serve as Broward’s representative on the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact.”

Furr elaborates, “Our vision is of a pristine, healthy environment.  Our goal is to protect and enhance the environment with our partners, by supporting a collaborative and multi-disciplinary approach to climate resiliency planning, research and communications. The key word here is collaboration.” Emphasized.

Elsewhere, Florida State University and the University of Florida overcame their football differences during this time and formed the Florida Climate Institute with a purpose to advance national and international research and engagement on climate change. Today, the Florida Climate Institute has expanded to include nine member universities, including: Florida A&M, Florida Atlantic University, Florida Institute of Technology, Florida International University, the University of Central Florida, the University of Miami, and the University of South Florida. Over 200 affiliates have joined Florida Climate Institute, representing researchers, government officials and industry leaders.

Academic pa rtners have made notable contributions to the Compact’s initiatives as well, serving as valuable technical resources in the development of the Compact’s Unified Sea Level Rise Projection in 2012, and the subsequent 2015 Update, and as contributors in successfully hosting the South Florida Resilient Redesign Workshop in 2014.  

Here’s the sticky part.

According to Furr, the Compact never built a formal partnership with the Florida Climate Institute, which has led to an inconsistent relationship.  The lack of cooperation has created an unnecessary competition for grant dollars during a period when the overall pool of money was shrinking.  “More than that,” continues Furr, “when the best minds don’t communicate, we fail to make the best use of our overall talent.  Right now, we need all of our talent in the areas of climate research and resiliency planning for southeast Florida.”

For this reason, at the November 3rd Commission meeting, Broward County passed a resolution formalizing a partnership between the Southeast Florida Climate Compact and the Florida Climate Institute; which, once passed by all the Compact and Florida Climate Institute members, will guarantee the better alignment of academic research with regional climate resiliency planning efforts.  This will help improve the whole region’s competitive position for climate-related research, planning, and project funding.

Now we’re getting somewhere.

To accentuate the positive, individual Florida Climate Institute collaborations with the Compact have been beneficial .  The Florida Climate Institute hosted the Compact’s 2nd Annual Southeast Florida Resilient Redesign Workshop in August 2015 and collaborated with the Compact on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) coastal resilience funding application, as well as a climate resilience and decision-support modeling project, which also involved a partnership with the RAND Corporation. Because of these collaborative efforts, much is being accomplished for the protection and conservation of our beautiful South Florida. Collaboration surely goes a long way.

So what’s on the agenda for 2016?

The Commissioner wants to see Broward County build on these collaborative efforts and hopes that in 2016 they can work to establish a Florida Climate Institute hub, where all of the regional partners can plan and coordinate joint efforts furthering climate research, pl anning, projects, and outreach efforts for all of southeast Florida. 

 “This way we can collectively choose which projects are most urgently needed in the region,” Furr states in closing, “and our best minds can find new and creative solutions to the problems that we all share.  When we work together, we do it better.” Well said, Commissioner.

To find out more about Commissioner Beam Furr, or to reach him, visit his link here: http://www.broward.org/Commission/District6