Advancing Coastal Resilience Through Public-Private Partnerships in Walton County, FL

The Challenge

Like many coastal areas along the Gulf of Mexico, northwest Florida has been experiencing flooding exacerbated by sea level rise, as well as tropical storms, heavy rainfall events, and man-made impediments that are becoming more frequent and severe. With hazards becoming more common, and other issues like insurance and housing costs skyrocketing, there has been growing interest in the role that private and non-profit entities can play to increase community resilience in lockstep with the public sector.

The Approach

In 2023, The Water Institute, in partnership with the Seaside Institute, set out to explore mechanisms for productive public-private partnerships to advance coastal resilience in Walton County, FL. The Seaside Institute is a nonprofit based in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida with a mission to build better community resilience through education and design.

In an effort to bring together community members to identify resilience opportunities for the future, Seaside Institute provided funding to:

  1. Convene experts, residents, county officials, local non-profits, private sector organizations, and other interested parties in Walton County,
  2. Review current knowledge on physical hazards and social challenges, and
  3. Build upon existing plans and implementation strategies to identify key next steps on how different stakeholders can collaborate to advance resilience in Walton County.

The Water Institute and the Seaside Institute brought together a Coordinating Committee, made up of leaders throughout the county working in the resilience space, and hosted a workshop with more than 40 county stakeholders to advance mitigation and adaptation actions and strengthen community understanding and support related to resilience.

Together, the Water Institute and the Seaside Institute produced two reports:

  1. State of Resilience in Walton County Report: A report detailing recent, ongoing, and future resilience efforts planned for the county, along with information and data related to risk and vulnerability throughout the county.
  2. Resilience in Walton County Workshop Report: A report of activities and recommendations from the Resilience in Walton County Workshop