May 11, 2020
The Georgetown Climate Center (GCC) and the Capital Region Planning Commission (CRPC) in Louisiana have launched an innovative partnership to support Louisiana communities in the state’s Region 7 Watershed in protecting people from flooding risks and promoting resilient, affordable housing. Bringing together GCC's nationally recognized expertise in climate adaptation law, policy, and planning, and CRPC's experience in watershed resilience work, the two organizations are working together through 2022 to engage policymakers and community stakeholders to develop legal and policy resources to:
Louisiana is one of the hardest-hit areas in the U.S. as climate change and sea-level rise make extreme weather events and regular flooding more intense and frequent. These challenges often fall “first and worst” on communities of color, low-income communities, and Indigenous communities, who reside in the Louisiana Watershed Initiative's Region 7. Affordable, resilient housing initiatives are critical to ensuring equitable adaptation that takes into consideration the myriad overlapping challenges these communities face.
This work will be guided by a work group of individuals with expertise on Louisiana’s climate challenges and the increasing impacts of flood risk to housing. Members include directors of departments in local parishes, leaders of regional non-governmental organizations, academic researchers, and others. The work will also be informed by research and recommendations laid out in GCC's Managed Retreat Toolkit, which draws on best and emerging practices and case studies from across the country of states and communities integrating managed retreat into their adaptation strategies.
"For more than 10 years, GCC has worked to provide policymakers across the country with useful resources that help guide climate-smart adaptation and resilience strategies," said GCC's Acting Adaptation Program Director Annie Bennett. "Louisiana is on the frontlines of sea-level rise and climate impacts, and we're excited to combine our long-standing legal and policy experience with CRPC's extensive local knowledge and innovative watershed-scale approach to help communities stay safe. We hope this work will benefit people here in Louisiana, and provide lessons that can help communities in other parts of the country who are grappling with similar challenges."
|Image: A view of Lake Pontchartrain on a late spring day from Fontainebleau State Park|
During 2021 and 2022, CRPC and GCC will work together to identify ways that Region 7 and Louisiana communities can realize opportunities for economic growth and improve residents’ lives by increasing resiliency. GCC and CRPC will engage state, regional, and local policymakers and other experts and stakeholders in Louisiana to co-develop innovative strategies and practical steps for identifying and mitigating flood risk in Louisiana communities. Some common solutions to enhance community resilience include: adding parks that provide recreational benefits and decrease flooding by absorbing heavy amounts of rain; and encouraging planning for new resilient, affordable housing to help people grow their families and assets in areas that are already experiencing population growth and that need to prepare to welcome people moving out of high-risk flood zones over time.
“Bringing practical applications to research is a key component of what will make watershed-based work successful. By combining the real-world perspectives and expertise of Louisiana leaders with insights from national experts, we will create new tools that can support local and regional efforts to reduce flood risk to people, housing, and communities,” said Jamie Setze, Executive Director of Capital Region Planning Commission.
As a Regional Planning and Development District, CRPC is the coordinating agency for the Louisiana Watershed Initiative in Region 7. This partnership with GCC will expand on current efforts to support the Initiative's long-term resilience goals.
For questions and more information, contact GCC Senior Associate and project lead Katie Spidalieri at Katie.Spidalieri@georgetown.edu.
This work is being guided by the work group members below, who are graciously lending their knowledge and lived experiences in Louisiana to this effort in Region 7.
This work is generously supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.