Coastal Edges director’s note november 2023

In support of conditional optimism

The holidays are just around the corner, and most of us are busy with preparations for the festive season. It’s a time to gather with family and friends, a time to reflect on the ups and downs of the past year, and a time to look toward the new year with anticipation and new expectations.    

At CCS, we celebrated the year end with colleagues and collaborators, old and new, at our annual summit on December 1, which brought together 130 thought leaders from academia, industry, nonprofit and government sectors to exchange ideas and share success stories around our collective goal of moving the needle to build coastal resilience, improve water quality, and restore ecosystems in Florida and across the country. 

The CCS advisory board and associate directors are all smiles as they celebrate successes and explore what’s next for the Center for Coastal Solutions and collaborators. (Photo credit: Samantha Jones)

The theme of this year’s summit was optimizing actionable solutions for resilient coasts, in the context of the emerging risks facing our coastal communities, which call for strong leadership and ‘radical collaboration.’  

Federal policy makers increasingly understand this urgency and are providing support to improve resilience to severe weather and advancing climate adaptation, with a focus on our nation’s coasts. At the summit, Mark S. Osler, senior advisor for coastal inundation and resilience for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shared his perspectives on the country’s coastal resilience challenges and the path forward through multi-sector collaboration and workforce development in enabling a climate ready coast. Most striking was Dr. Osler’s stance of “conditional optimism” i.e., we can drive the change needed to combat coastal challenges, as we have seen such change happen. He shared the example of the recovery of the ozone layer resulting from the Montreal Protocol, which has been successful in slowing and reversing the increase of ozone-depleting gases in the atmosphere.   

Mark Osler emphasizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s motto”essayons” or “let us try,” when advocating for an approach in the path forward toward coastal resilience. (Photo credit: Samantha Jones)

Jeff King, Ph.D., national lead and program manager, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Engineering With Nature (EWN), talked about the exponential growth of EWN in recent years to include a diverse network of organizations and activities that are advancing the use of nature-based solutions aimed at creating greater resilience for flood management and navigation infrastructure in our nation’s communities and military installations. 

Jeff King, Ph.D., expands on the EWN’s approach of “innovation in practice.” (Photo credit: Samantha Jones)

The collaborative approaches of NOAA and USACE underscore the need for a collective response to the thorny challenges facing our coasts. In Florida, students and scientists at CCS are working with both agencies and many other collaborators on solutions for our coasts. We’re proud to be part of this collective effort and we enjoyed celebrating a year of progress and innovation with many of you.  As reflected in this year’s summit theme, we are optimistic about the future!    

From the CCS family to yours, we wish you a happy, safe and warm holiday season. Here’s to a wonderful 2024. Together, we can help keep Florida a beautiful and prosperous place to call home.  

The summit provided students with opportunities to talk about their research questions, methods and results with other researchers in the fields of coastal ecology, environmental engineering, coastal engineering, hydrology and other fields. (Photo credit: Samantha Jones)