Environmental Law Program

Sea Level Rise, Coastal Flood Risk, and Social Vulnerability Workshop

On April 7, 2018, ELP, Climate Central, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) co-hosted the Sea Level Rise, Coastal Flood Risk, and Social Vulnerability Workshop.

The workshop featured a mixture of informative and powerful presentations by scientific, legal, and government experts, a video presentation by a member of the youth, and web tool demonstrations.

Alphonso Braggs, President of the Honolulu-Hawaiʻi NAACP, started off the workshop with inspiring opening remarks, expressing his excitement for the workshop as a way to launch NAACP’s environmental climate justice initiative in Hawaiʻi.

Dr. Charles “Chip” Fletcher discussing the impacts of global warming and climate change

Dr. Charles “Chip” Fletcher, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Geology and Geophysics, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa, gave an educational overview on the science behind climate change, sea level rise, coastal flooding, and coastal erosion, particularly in Hawaiʻi.

Jacqueline Patterson, Senior Director of the NAACP Environmental Climate Justice (ECJ) Program, gave an inspirational presentation on the social justice perspective of climate change. She discussed the disproportionate impacts that climate change has on communities of color and low income communities, highlighting the need for the narrative to change. 

Among the scientific presentations by experts, the workshop also featured a video presentation by Campbell High School tenth-grader NAACP Youth Member, Kristen Brown.

WSRSL’s Professor Maxine Burkett then presented preliminary findings of the Marshall Islands Climate and Migration Project, the purpose of which is to “understand[] the role of climate change and ecosystem services in the migration decisions of Marshallese Islanders.”

The workshop also a featured a government panel covering the following topics:

  • Hawaii Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission’s current policy initiatives related to sea level rise and coastal protection
    • Samuel Lemmo, Administrator, Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (OCCL) 
  • Hawaiʻi’s/CZM’s planning efforts related to sea level rise and coastal flooding
    • Justine W. Nihipali, Planning Program Manager, Hawaii Coastal Zone Management Program
  • Honolulu’s resiliency efforts related to sea level rise and coastal flooding
    • Josh Stanbro, Executive Director and Chief Resilience Officer, Honolulu Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency

Ross Winans, demonstrating NOAA’s web tool

Finally, representatives from three different organizations demonstrated their respective web tools, available for use by the general public:

  • NOAA’s Sea Level Rise Viewer and Coastal Food Exposure Mapper
    • Ross Winans, Remote Sensing Analyst with The Baldwin Group at NOAA Office for Coastal Management – Pacific Islands
  • Climate Central’s Surging Seas Risk Finder
    • Dan Rizza, Manager for External Relations and Business Development for Climate Central, Program on Sea Level Rise
  • Hawaiʻi Sea Grant’s Hawaiʻi Sea Level Rise Viewer
    • Brad Romines, Coastal Management Specialist, University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program, Center for Coastal and Climate Science and Resilience; and Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands

A follow-up workshop is being planned for the fall.


April 16, 2018 — amf