RCE Georgetown - 2019

Transferring Climate Adaptation Knowledge and Tools from New England to Georgetown, South Carolina
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Transferring Climate Adaptation Knowledge and Tools from New England to Georgetown, South Carolina
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Georgetown
Contributing organization(s) : 
North Inlet - Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Coastal Carolina University
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Name: 
Maeve Snyder
Organizational Affiliation: 
North Inlet - Winyah Bay NERR
Format of project: 
PowerPoint
Language of project: 
English
Date of submission:
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Geographical & Education Information
Region: 
Americas
Country: 
United States
Location(s): 
Georgetown County
Address of focal point institution for project: 
North Inlet Winyah Bay NERR
PO Box 1630, Georgetown, SC 29442
Ecosystem(s):
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
Georgetown County, South Carolina has experienced four consecutive years of extreme weather, including thousand-year floods, hurricanes, and sea level rise. This coastal community has endured threats to life, impacts to ecosystems, infrastructure and housing damages, and lost revenue and school days. Georgetown is home to Winyah Bay, the third largest watershed on the east coast. Early indigenous populations relied on fish and shellfish. During colonization, enslaved Africans cleared the land for rice farming. After the Civil War, industries, including timber, paper, and steel became prominent. Today, the county economy relies heavily on tourism.

Georgetown is home to Winyah Bay, the third largest watershed on the east coast. Early indigenous populations relied on fish and shellfish. During colonization, enslaved Africans cleared the land for rice farming. They built a system of canals to strategically flood the land. After the Civil War, the land remained prone to flooding. Other industries, including timber, paper, and steel became prominent. Today, water-dependent industries remain critical as the county economy relies heavily on tourism.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
Leaders and residents of Georgetown County are acutely aware of climate change impacts on their community, quality of life, and natural resources. Yet, like many small counties in the United States, they are challenged by financial limitations and burgeoning infrastructure needs that restrict their ability to focus on planning for climate adaptation and mitigation. Stakeholder engagement is needed so that decisions about how to allocate resources for climate adaptation solutions are equitable. This project transferred skills, tools, and knowledge of role play simulations and consensus building, as well as education on localized climate impacts and potential solutions.
Contents
Status: 
Ongoing
Period: 
October, 2017 to July, 2019
Rationale: 
Georgetown County, South Carolina has experienced four consecutive years of extreme weather, including thousand-year floods, hurricanes, and sea level rise. This coastal community has endured threats to life and health, impacts to ecosystems, infrastructure and housing damages, and lost revenue and school days. Georgetown is home to Winyah Bay, the third largest watershed on the east coast. Leaders and residents of Georgetown County are acutely aware of climate change impacts on their community, quality of life, and natural resources. Yet, like many small counties in the United States, they are challenged by financial limitations and burgeoning infrastructure needs that restrict their ability to focus on planning for climate adaptation and mitigation. Stakeholder engagement is needed so that decisions about how to allocate resources for climate adaptation solutions are equitable.
Objectives: 
Down-scaled climate projection data were produced to equip participants to make evidence-based decisions. The project team created a case study role play simulation with the goal of increasing community capacity to discuss controversial, “unsafe” topics and to model productive stakeholder engagement on climate adaptation planning. Community workshops engaged diverse stakeholders within the county, and captured perspectives from multiple communities. Participant surveys provided leaders with data on community attitudes, perceptions, and priorities. The goal of the project was to set the stage for stakeholder engagement (e.g. sea level rise task force) and policy recommendations leading to action.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
The New England Climate Adaptation Project (NECAP) provided a useful model of stakeholder engagement, consensus building, and climate projections in community planning. However, initial feedback indicated that the issues, social/cultural dynamics, and political settings were too different to apply the same case studies. The Georgetown Climate Adaptation Project (GCAP) modified this approach for a coastal southeast community. Stakeholder interviews assessed the social, economic, and demographic perspectives that would be representative of a community decision making body. Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA) generated down-scaled climate projection data for Georgetown County. Variables included averages and extremes of temperature, precipitation, and sea level rise. Role Play Simulation case studies were produced to model a stakeholder meeting on community planning for climate adaptation. A Train-the-Trainer workshop provided facilitation instruction for other organizations and communities to replicate the Role Play Simulation.
Size of academic audience: 
200
Results: 
Survey responses indicated that community members have high levels of concern about climate impacts. Top concerns included failing infrastructure, health impacts, and increased flooding. Surveys revealed a gap between participants who felt climate should be significant in planning and decision-making and whether it would be. Support for stakeholder involvement in climate adaptation planning was high. Debrief discussions and feedback from workshops showed that Role Play Simulations are an effective way to build community capacity for planning around controversial topics. Participants reported feeling better prepared to have productive discussions and empowered to address climate adaptation planning. Participants described increased empathy for differing viewpoints in a decision-making process that incorporates multiple perspectives.
Lessons learned: 
A disruption to this project was Hurricane Florence and the subsequent flooding that impacted Georgetown County. Besides cancelling community workshops during emergency response, it was necessary to be sensitive and wait before re-engaging with the topic of climate adaptation planning. An opportunity that arose from this challenge was applying the Role Play Simulation with high school students. Expanding the project to include youth perspectives was a valuable result of our flexibility during a challenging time. We also learned that trusted community ambassadors were critical to hosting successful community workshops.
Key messages: 
The Georgetown Climate Adaptation Project leveraged tools, resources, and knowledge to increase community capacity to plan for resilience to climate impacts. Role Play Simulations allowed diverse stakeholders to practice consensus building, consider opposing perspectives, and model productive civic engagement. Community feedback and climate projections were produced to inform local decision makers.
Funding: 
The Georgetown Climate Adaptation Project (GCAP) was a NOAA Science Transfer Grant project.

Pictures:

File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon gtownflood.png (1.79 MB) High Tide Flooding in the City of Georgetown Jennifer Plunket
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages 
Indirect
SDG 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all 
Indirect
SDG 7 - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all 
Indirect
SDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all 
Indirect
SDG 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation 
Direct
SDG 10 - Reduce inequality within and among countries 
Indirect
SDG 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 
Direct
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
Direct
SDG 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 
Indirect
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
Indirect
SDG 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development 
Indirect
Theme
Disaster Risk Reduction 
Direct
Curriculum Development 
Indirect
Forests/Trees 
Indirect
Plants & Animals 
Indirect
Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development – Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Indirect
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Direct
Priority Action Area 3 - Building capacities of educators and trainers 
Direct
Priority Action Area 4 - Empowering and mobilizing youth 
Indirect
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level 
Direct