The Virginia Beach Sea Level Rise Listening Sessions project is designed to solicit information from the community while also helping residents of Virginia Beach gain an understanding of this complex topic. The sessions are funded by a Virginia Sea Grant and offered through a partnership of experts from the University of Virginia Institute for Environmental Negotiation (IEN), the University of Virginia Department of Urban and Environmental Planning (UVa), Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC), Wetlands Watch (WW), and the City of Virginia Beach. This collaboration will provide four Virginia Beach communities with tools for understanding the risks associated with sea level rise, assessing the impacts on ecosystem services and the social fabric, and planning for an integrated regional strategy. The project will involve and benefit decision-makers, citizens, industry, resource managers, key community organizations, and other constituent groups.
These listening sessions are designed to confer benefits at multiple levels. Individual participants will have the opportunity to communicate concerns and expand knowledge about sea level rise, the need for preparedness, and the range of appropriate investment decisions. The community will benefit as part of a process towards developing responses and planning for resilience. Results of a participant survey and other reporting data will inform a distributable analysis of the listening sessions as a model process that may be adapted by other coastal communities. Results may also inform the City of Virginia Beach Sustainability Plan.
In Fall 2011, Phase Two of this project will begin. This will involve ground-truthing a range of planning tools for addressing sea level rise through focus groups held in the City of Virginia Beach, the Eastern Shore, and the Middle Peninsula Planning District. IEN will be working with partners in each locality to identify the tools that will be explored as well as the stakeholders to be invited to the focus groups, which will be held in February 2012.