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A resilient Rhode Island
By Jenny Pereira / October 1, 2014 /   Loading Disqus...

A teacher conducting a water quality test with his classroom, a school of menhaden under the watchful eye of a fishing bird, a gondola with a violinist and two tourists gliding by -- I saw all of these sights while walking along the Woonasquatucket River in downtown Providence the other day. They are examples of ”resilience.” Rhode Island is working to maximize and fortify our assets so we can withstand whatever the future might bring.

Last week, over 85 state officials, environmental advocates, and academics gathered at the Rhode Island Foundation for a forum, supported by our Civic Leadership Fund, on the “Resilient Rhode Island” legislation which the General Assembly passed earlier this year. Officials including State Representative Art Handy, State Senator William J. Conley, Jr.,  DEM Director Janet Coit, Office of Energy Resources Commissioner Marion Gold, Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Jamia McDonald, Department of Transportation Director Michael Lewis, and Conservation Law Foundation Rhode Island Director Trish Jedele spoke about the new  law that “seeks to protect the people of Rhode Island and make our state economy and society resilient in the face of nearly certain, but not precisely predictable, effects of climate change.”

Climate change is hard for many of us to grasp. It’s too big and uncertain to include in a list of daily concerns. The good news is the Resilient Rhode Island Act provides a coordinated framework for state agencies to plan for and manage the impact of anticipated climate change as part of their existing work. The Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (EC4) will work to fortify Rhode Island’s assets to prepare for changing climate conditions like rising sea levels, increased flooding from more severe storms, extended droughts, and longer and more intense heat waves.

This is an effort that will take more than government action. We’re in this together and for the long haul. The Foundation actively supports many climate change initiatives, including URI’s Coastal Resources Center and Coastal Resources Management Council’s development of a shoreline “special area management plan,” organizations working to promote green infrastructure to address polluted run-off and flooding issues, and efforts to restore an urban river so it can host a classroom, a school of fish, sea birds, and tourists.  We’re moving in the right direction -- towards a resilient Rhode Island.  

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