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This month the Sea Level Solutions Center (SLSC), in partnership with Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, hosted a day long conference on sea level rise. The conference consisted of six panels and a keynote presentation and was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Brickell, an area which experienced the consequences of sea level rise, not more than a year ago during the last hurricane season.

FIU’s Provost, Kenneth Furton, attended the conference and gave the opening remarks with Chairman Kevin Burke of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP. The keynote presentation was given by Dr. Tiffany Troxler, Director of SLSC, where she examined sea level rise in Miami and presented possible solutions and opportunities associated with the topic. Dr. Troxler underscored the importance of “learning from our past to protect our future.”

The first panel, “Insuring the Changing Coastline,” included panelists from Swiss Re and Riemer Insurance Group and was moderated by Dr. Shahid Hamid, Professor and Chair of the Department of Finance at FIU. The panel touched upon the future of insuring assets in geographically flood-vulnerable areas, including South Florida. The next panel, “Development in a Rising Sea Level Environment” highlighted the importance of a built environment that adapts and responds to changes in our natural environment. This panel discussion and a few others were recorded through the FIU Institute of Water and Environment (InWe) Facebook page (you can access the recordings here).

Director of the Institute of Water and Environment Dr. Todd Crowl, Director of the School of Environment, Arts and Society (SEAS) Dr. Evelyn Gaiser and Director of the Extreme Events Institute (EEI) Dr. Richard Olson spoke on the next panel, “The Latest Climate News.” Dr. Crowl led the discussion by introducing current events around the topic of sea level rise, including an important decision made by a judge and the importance of resilient infrastructure. This panel was also streamed and can be found on the InWE Facebook page.

The fourth panel, “Lending in the Age of Uncertainty,” began with an explainer about the science behind sea level rise. The panelists, which included representatives from TotalBank and Berkadia, discussed lending options and how they may evolve in the face of climate change and sea level rise.

The fifth panel, “The Boundaries of Responsibility,” was focused on the role that governments play when it comes to responding to sea level rise, especially in a vulnerable place like Miami. This panel was moderated by Tom Hudson of WLRN Radio Miami and included a video address from Senator Bill Nelson. Panelists included the Honorable Daniella Levine Cava who is Commissioner of Miami-Dade County, the Honorable Philip Stoddard who is Mayor of the City of South Miami and professor of the Department of Biological Sciences at FIU, the Honorable Francis Suarez who is Mayor of the City of Miami, and Senator Annette Taddeo of District 40 – Miami-Dade County. The panelists identified the importance of the local and federal government to act on the issue of sea level rise. This panel was recorded and can be watch on the InWE Facebook page.

The last panel, “What’s Next? Recent Experience and Expectations for the Upcoming Year,” was moderated by FIU Miami Beach Urban Studios‘ Director, Dr. John Stuart. Panelists included Amy Knowles from the City of Miami Beach, Dr. Aris Papadopoulos from EEI, Adolfo Menendez from Ontier Law Firm in Spain and Harvey Sheldon a Partner at Hinshaw and Culbertson LLC. After identifying and explaining the risks to South Florida associated with sea level rise, the panelists closed the discussion by highlighting necessary actions to be taken for the near future, including urging our elected officials to push for adaptation and resiliency solutions to the growing problem our city, state, and country is facing.

For more information on the conference, you can read the Hinshaw and Culbertson LLC press release.