UF prepares to launch Campus Climate Action Plan revision process

As national and international attention centers increasingly on climate change and how communities can get ready for it, the University of Florida is preparing to launch the process that will lead to a new Campus Climate Action Plan that is focused on resilience.

The last iteration of UF’s Campus Climate Action Plan was developed in 2009 but didn’t specifically address resilience strategies, said Matt Williams, director of the UF Office of Sustainability. The updated plan development is expected to be a comprehensive, year-long process and will be largely informed by the recommendations of several working groups addressing topics such as energy, transportation, finance, offsets and adaptation. There will also be opportunities for feedback and input from the campus community as a whole.

As part of the preparation for the new plan’s rollout, UF’s Office of Sustainability in September hosted a workshop in partnership with Alachua County and the City of Gainesville to foster conversations among key groups in an effort to better understand and identify opportunities for improving the community’s resilience to climate-related stressors.

The resilience-building workshop, held Sept. 12, marked the first in a series of conversations around how the city, county and university are preparing to meet the unique challenges that could result from a changing climate. Thirty-six participants representing organizations and entities throughout the county discussed preemptive actions and partnerships that might allow the community to better respond to four key hazards that were a focal point of this workshop: flooding, storm-force winds, extreme temperatures and drought.

Key themes from the workshop included the importance of strengthening neighborhood networks and communications prior to a crisis, and an emphasis on building collaborative relationships among institutions to ensure the success of resilience strategies. The workshop also highlighted the importance of prioritizing communications, resources and participation for vulnerable populations to improve overall community resilience.

"The outcomes of this workshop provide a first step for plans and conversations to improve climate resilience in our region, and are valuable resources as the University of Florida prepares to revise the Campus Climate Action Plan with new considerations for resilience and emission mitigation,” Williams said.

A web resource for updates and information about the progress of the Campus Climate Action Plan revision process will be launched later this fall, with the planning process slated to begin in January 2020.

Allison Vitt November 7, 2019