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Regional Climate Change Adaptation Policy Network in Southeast Florida
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  • Timothy Kirby,
  • Adam Henry,
  • Michael Sukop,
  • Jessica Bolson,
  • Nancy Schneider,
  • Lauren Ordway
Timothy Kirby
Florida International University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Adam Henry
University of Arizona
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Michael Sukop
Florida International University
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Jessica Bolson
Florida International University
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Nancy Schneider
Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact
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Lauren Ordway
Institute for Sustainable Communities
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Climate change poses uncertain, complex, and emerging risks to local governments across the country, particularly in regions prone to flood and storm hazards. While local governments recognize the importance of finding innovative approaches to climate change adaptation, it remains a challenge for many reasons, including the high cost of policy experimentation, lack of organizational capacity, and uncertainty about the efficacy of potential adaptation strategies. These are not merely challenges of technological innovation, but also of social and policy innovation. It is increasingly recognized that collaboration is required to meet these challenges. Collaborations of various types---referred to broadly as policy networks---give organizations access to information, ideas, and other resources that may be used to adapt to climate change. Certain types of networks are hypothesized to be effective for these purposes, particularly networks that span fragmented communities and integrate different knowledge systems and resources. These types of networks tend to reduce information asymmetries and maximize the diversity of information and resources available to network actors, thus increasing capacity to manage uncertain, emerging, and complex problems. In this paper we characterize the policy network surrounding climate change adaptation in Southeast Florida that includes municipal actors as well as a diverse array of stakeholders in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Data are gathered using a survey of organizational representatives in the region, identified though systematic searches of organizational websites as well as nominations by other climate change professionals. Overall this study shows a complex web of collaborations where over 300 diverse actors are exchanging information about climate change and sharing resources to address adaptation. Findings demonstrate that county governments and regional nonprofit organizations, such as the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, play a crucial role in linking disparate resources and knowledge systems in the region. These organizations help to stabilize network ties within a complex and rapidly shifting political landscape, making them instrumental for the delivery of climate adaptation services.