Assessing the Sea-level Rise Governance Gap in the Charleston Tri-County Area

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Palenbaum, Emmi
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The South Carolina coast has experienced over a foot of sea-level rise since the beginning of the 20th century and now expects an increase of one to two inches of sea-level rise per year. Home to more than 802,000 individuals, communities in Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties are threatened by the impacts of sea-level rise, including flooding and public safety problems, degradation of infrastructure, and destruction of ecosystems and their services. In order to effectively plan and implement mitigation strategies that protect the tri-county area’s people and resources, stakeholder collaboration across all levels is necessary. To assess the current state of communication amongst actors, this study identifies key groups and individuals involved with sea-level rise planning at various governance levels and examines stakeholders’ perceptions of the issue, preferences for policy action, and limitations to collaborative efforts through a survey. Responses find that policy actors have general agreement on the timeline and concern for sea-level rise impacts, but have mixed experiences with the level of collaboration on this topic and varying priorities for policy action. Results from this study can support improvement of communication among stakeholders to move forward in finding strategies to mitigate sea-level rise impacts and increase the tri-county area’s resilience.