Marking an important step in Virginia’s efforts to adapt to climate change and sea level rise, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and Old Dominion University (ODU) launched a new Resilient and Adaptable Communities Partnership this week. The partnership will help communities threatened by flooding, train the workforce needed to take action, and promote flood-protection projects that also lead to a healthier Chesapeake Bay. ODU is hiring four new research faculty positions and a program manager.
“Action on climate change is essential to saving the Bay, and many nature-based practices both combat flooding and lead to cleaner waterways. As flooding and more intense storms increasingly upend the lives of people across Virginia, many academic, nonprofit, and government organizations are working to make communities and the Chesapeake Bay more resilient to climate change,” said CBF Virginia Policy and Grassroots Advisor Jay Ford.
“Complementing this work, our new partnership will help connect communities with resources and technical assistance to put resiliency projects on the ground that also support cleaner waterways,” Ford said. “Together, we will create a more resilient Virginia and healthier Chesapeake Bay for future generations.”
The partnership will cover three key areas:
- Connecting cities and counties with funding from federal and state grants and other sources, as well as offering technical support and outreach to communities across Virginia. That includes designing and planning projects that address threats from flooding and storms and prioritizing nature-based practices like living shorelines. Because these practices rely on natural processes to absorb floodwaters and fight erosion, they also filter pollution and create habitat;
- Training the workforce needed to design and build projects that protect homes and businesses from extreme weather and flooding while benefitting the Chesapeake Bay. ODU will offer professional credentialing and academic degree programs, and;
- Providing expertise and guidance to state and local governments in developing and implementing Virginia’s roadmap to a resilient future. That includes having a seat at the table at the Resilience Authority Workgroup under Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation and supporting implementation of the Coastal Resilience Master Plan and Virginia Flood Protection Master Plan.
“This unique partnership furthers Old Dominion University’s commitment to building climate change resilience in Hampton Roads and beyond,” said ODU President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D. “Our faculty are on the frontline of sea level rise research, and together with CBF, we will help localities, nonprofits and businesses develop effective resilience solutions.”
The partnership stems from the 2022 legislative session, when Virginia legislators established a collaboration between ODU and CBF on resiliency issues for an initial two-year period. This week marks the launch of the program following a year-long planning process involving CBF, ODU’s Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience (ICAR), state and local governments, and other stakeholders.
Virginia Delegate Barry Knight, who is Chairman of the Virginia House Appropriations Committee, was indispensable in supporting this partnership. “Flooding and sea level rise are already creating challenges for homes and businesses in Hampton Roads and across Virginia,” Knight said. “I’m proud of my work in the General Assembly to bring together ODU and CBF, two recognized Virginia experts in resiliency. This partnership creates an important hub that will provide communities with practical solutions to threats from flooding and extreme weather.”
The work of Virginia Senator George Barker, who is Co-Chair of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, was also indispensable in establishing the ODU-CBF effort. "As we continue to feel the detrimental effects of climate change, we need to build community resilience,” Baker said. “I want to enable communities to address the threats and challenges climate change poses in their backyard. That is why I worked to ensure our state budget invests in this partnership between CBF and ICAR, which will directly help communities during this climate crisis."
Jessica Whitehead, the Joan P. Brock Endowed Executive Director of ICAR, said: “We are so excited to work with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to build out this partnership. There is a lot of work to be done, and we are glad to help add capacity for turning science into action.”
ODU is hiring a program manager and four new research faculty positions as Chesapeake Bay Foundation Resilience Fellows specializing in geospatial analysis, resilience planning, resilient engineering and design, and natural resource economics. Job postings for the research faculty can be found here, and the positions remain open until filled.
CBF works to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams, including addressing the causes and mitigating the effects of climate change. That effort encompasses the promotion of nature-based solutions to climate change, which also create habitat for wildlife and reduce pollution to waterways.
ODU’s Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience is a national center focused on the science and practice of coastal resilience, leading research, education, and community partnerships to develop practical solutions to challenges faced by communities.