Institute for Environmental Negotiation

Empowering communities to create shared solutions

Virginia Beach Focus Group Discussion of Sea Level Rise Policies


Citizens and elected decision-makers are ready and eager to find ways to tackle the difficult issue of how to plan for sea level rise. The results of four community listening sessions in 2011 on sea level rise in Virginia Beach indicate the urgency of the situation: 90% of participants believe that planning for sea level rise should be a priority for local government. Following a presentation to City Council in May 2011, Councilors shared their opinion that more information was needed on the public perception of sea level rise, specifically regarding solutions.

This feedback served as an indication that there was a need to hold a focused discussion on particular tools and policies to address sea level rise. Throughout late 2011 and early 2012, the partners regrouped to design, convene, and conduct an invitation-only focus group where participants could discuss—confidentially—issues related to shoreline protection policies. The goal was to disseminate a report on participants' evaluation of a range of place-based, pragmatic options for policymakers to consider adopting to protect their coastal communities.

Fifteen people accepted our invitation and participated in the focus group and represented a broad range of interests, including environmental protection groups, citizen advisory groups, and community civic groups, among others. Virginia Beach Focus Group Final Report