In recent years, communities in Georgetown County, South Carolina have been dealing with the impacts of thousand-year rainfalls and Hurricanes Matthew and Florence, along with rising sea levels. The resulting flooding has damaged houses, roads, and habitats, caused schools and business to close temporarily, and created a sense of urgency to develop new strategies for managing the effects of climate change. However, like many rural counties in the U.S., Georgetown is challenged by financial limitations and burgeoning infrastructure needs, making it difficult to focus on climate adaptation and mitigation planning.
This project developed and implemented a novel approach to climate adaptation planning, following a model used in New England (see New England Climate Change Adaptation Project). The project team created a customized role-playing simulation that was used in workshops to immerse community members and municipal officials in a fictional, but realistic, climate planning process. A series of workshops helped set the stage for local government action on climate adaptation by gathering diverse perspectives on challenging decisions and allowing leaders to try out collaborative methods for decision-making.