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Catalyst Miami's "CLEAR" Program Featured in US Water Alliance "An Equitable Water Future: A National Briefing Paper"

June 6, 2017

By Zoë Roller and Danielle Mayorga, US Water Alliance Program Managers

Catalyst Miami: Fostering resident engagement in climate planning

The impacts of a changing climate are evident in Southeast Florida, where sea levels are projected to rise 15 inches by 2045. Miami-Dade County currently experiences about six high-tide flood events every year, and this number could increase to 380 in the next 30 years. The region faces not only sea level rise and storm surge, but also sunny-day flooding due to the porous bedrock on which it sits. Saltwater intrusion into the county’s Biscayne aquifer is impacting the agriculture industry and threatening the livelihoods of small farmers. In Miami, low-income and Latino communities are hit especially hard by storms and flooding. Residents face regular flooding and often have to wade through puddles to get to work.

As government agencies develop resilience plans, it is crucial that all communities that are vulnerable to climate risk have a hand in shaping adaptation strategies. Catalyst Miami, a community organization that provides social services like health coaching and financial planning, is engaging vulnerable communities in climate initiatives. The organization offers a course that prepares residents to participate in the climate planning process. The course provides an overview of the effects of climate change in Miami; reviews adaptation strategies from around the country; and offers public speaking training for residents to prepare them to effectively communicate with public officials. Participants also learn community asset mapping, focused on identifying the existing characteristics of their neighborhoods that could build climate resilience.

Once the course is completed, some graduates develop grassroots climate initiatives, such as creating a community emergency preparedness plan. Catalyst Miami partners with the city’s Office of Resilience and the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact, a planning initiative spearheaded by several counties, to facilitate community engagement in climate planning. The Compact is currently updating its adaptation plan and developing a mitigation plan, and Catalyst Miami will work with the initiative to incorporate equity considerations. In these ways, Catalyst Miami is providing important enabling structures for residents to engage in climate planning. By incorporating the needs, goals, and ideas of the people whose lives will be impacted by a changing climate, the adaption plans will be stronger and more sustainable.

Catalyst Miami offers a course that informs communities about the effects of climate change in Miami, and prepares them to participate in adaptation planning processes. Photo credit: Martin Framez.




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