The initiative sought to assess local vulnerabilities along the Gulf Coast and empower the region to envision, plan and act to ensure resiliency and to sustain cultural, economic and ecological values in the face of growing coastal degradation.
The Blue Ribbon Resilient Communities Project held a series of leadership forums held in 11 communities that engaged more than 1,100 stakeholders across the five Gulf States of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
At the end of the process, the America’s WETLAND Foundation released a report based on the forums entitled “Beyond Unintended Consequences: Adaptation for Gulf Coast Resiliency and Sustainability.” The report offers 30 recommendations for Gulf Coast sustainability based on research and testimony from the forums.
The report’s recommendations fall into five distinct categories.
- Seek urgent federal action by resolving conflicting federal policies and practices. Contradictory rules, regulations and agency priorities impede coastal restoration by delaying projects and increasing costs. A more orderly, efficient process must be established to meet urgent needs.
- Deploy multiple lines of offense by decreasing regional vulnerabilities through cooperative action. Short-term thinking has led to consequence planning defined by inadequate, piecemeal fixes – mainly in the wake of disasters. The focus must shift to a long-term vision for the future that emphasizes adaptation by using innovative, systemic approaches that incorporate non-structural and structural elements.
- Allow innovation and enterprise to flourish by supporting strategies to facilitate regional stewardship. Bureaucratic barriers and a lack of smart incentives hinder the development of creative, efficient coastal restoration strategies. Unless policies and plans harness the power of new technologies, visionary research, market forces and local ingenuity, environmental degradation will continue to outpace restoration and protection efforts.
- Revitalize regional strengths and pride by empowering communities to practice self-determination. Coastal degradation and mounting vulnerabilities threaten entire communities, cultures and a valued way of life. Local citizens must adapt to changing circumstances to preserve their cultural heritage and to build the foundation for a stronger future.
- Sustain action based on recommendations by communicating regional visions for resiliency. The degradation of the Gulf Coast will continue to accelerate without a robust, coordinated response that enlists all interested parties and every level of government.