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Advancing a hyperlocal approach to community engagement in climate adaptation: Results from a South Florida pilot study in two communities

With increasing urgency of local and regional climate adaptation, there is a growing need for governments to identify and respond effectively to the concerns of communities they serve and to align investments. Researchers designed and piloted a novel hyperlocal method for urban adaptation planning combining two social science tools that have been widely but separately used to foster community engagement and strategize solutions. Not-for-profit community partners Catalyst Miami and the Cleo Institute facilitated multi-session online workshops with participants from two communities in South Florida with whom they have well-established relationships and in which socio-economic conditions and climate risks represent notable vulnerabilities. The workshops first employed photovoice to elicit individual narratives about climate change impacts; participants then followed a design thinking protocol to critically evaluate the leading concerns they identified and propose adaptation solutions. Geospatial mapping and data tools were provided for participants to gain additional tools and further knowledge. Local planning and resilience officials attended some or all of the workshops as observers and interlocutors, dialoguing with participants. Comparative analysis revealed differences in risk awareness and primary concerns between communities, and further demonstrated that concerns and solutions proposed by members of at-risk neighborhoods do not always align with geospatial data that often drives infrastructure adaptation planning in the region, suggesting that more widespread use of community engaged methods could enhance government climate adaptation responses for local communities.

Find the full pilot study here.


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