FFL will join Louisiana coastal partners to welcome international experts for strategy sessions to address climate change​


The Rockefeller Foundation provides two grants totaling $1 million to fund three-part series to help establish best practices based on LA SAFE project for rising seas

Foundation for Louisiana (FFL), building on a collaboration with the State of Louisiana and other partners, will co-host a three-part series of roundtable discussions in March featuring international experts on climate change thanks to a $1 million grant from The Rockefeller Foundation, the philanthropy announced Tuesday, February 27th.

The Global Transformation Roundtable Series will bring together international experts, state leaders, and community organizers to share strategies and lay a blueprint to combat growing threats from climate-induced coastal erosion, rising sea levels, and extreme flooding.

FFL will be joined by the University of New Orleans-Center for Hazards Assessment, Response & Technology (UNO-CHART), one of its partners with the State of Louisiana’s Office of Community Development on LA SAFE — Louisiana’s Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments. (Concordia LLC, a local firm that designs and plans community engagement, will help plan the series.)

LA SAFE is a planning process to develop a common vision with coastal residents intended to guide parish-specific decision-making in coming decades relative to projected flood risks. The Louisiana Office of Community Development’s Disaster Recovery Unit, in partnership with the Foundation for Louisiana’s Coastal Resilience Leverage Fund and the elected leadership of the parishes, is coordinating the LA SAFE planning initiative. The planning process is a key step in the implementation of LA SAFE, a $40 million initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Once plans are developed, the LA SAFE team will use the balance of funds to invest in proposed programs and projects. LA SAFE is a community-focused resilience and adaptation policy framework complementing the state’s Coastal Master Plan.

As a recognized leader, collaborator, and coordinator of the coastal, water, and adaptation sectors of Louisiana, FFL has allotted staff and financial resources to creating inter-agency and inter-organizational relationships, capacity, and consistency that are necessary for the sustainability of coastal communities and the landscape of adaptation planning.

The first roundtable session is March 14-15 in Buras, LA, a small community of vibrant culture about an hour south of New Orleans that now stands on the frontlines of coastal change.

(Read news of the announcement here.)

“We hope to build upon LA SAFE’s tremendous success in engaging local residents living in low, moderate, and high- risk communities to work together through meaningful problem-solving efforts,” Liz Williams Russell, Director of FFL’s Coastal Resilience Leverage Fund, said. “The goal of the Global Transformation Roundtable Series is to upload takeaways, successes, and barriers to success from the experience of LA SAFE while learning from other relevant global partners working to address similar and related challenges.”

FFL President and CEO Flozell Daniels, Jr. noted that the roundtable discussions, as well as the LA SAFE process, are in perfect alignment with the foundation’s mission to invest in people and practices that work to reduce vulnerability and build stronger, more sustainable communities statewide.

“We have been working on the ground and alongside residents to strengthen their communities in the face of climate change and increased sea-level rise, land loss, and flood loss since our inception in 2005 as the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation,” Daniels said. “Now, as Foundation for Louisiana, we continue to believe that we can only move forward by sharing collected wisdom and using data-driven solutions, whether it comes from our own backyard or from people across the world who have similar stories to tell.”

After the two 2005 hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the foundation created the Louisiana Independent Fisheries Initiative that helped fishermen repair their boats damaged by storms, supported fishing cooperatives’ efforts to rebuild fishing docks, and funded training for safe food handling, improved packaging and producing, and marketing. In recent years, as FFL, we have broadened our scope to collaborate with residents, philanthropies, non-government organizations, and elected officials in the state’s coastal parishes to address coastal erosion, land loss, flood risk, and other issues. This work has been fueled by intensive research and increased capacity.

This work includes a partnership in 2014 with Greater New Orleans, Inc., in which we examined how we can turn the challenges facing the shrinking Louisiana coastline into opportunities. The result was “Analysis of Coastal Restoration Workforce Assets, Challenges, and Opportunities in South Louisiana.” The following year we established the Coastal Resilience Leverage Fund (CRLF) to spur our work on coastal issues at the both the grassroots and policymaking levels. With specific resources into the CRLF from the Rockefeller Foundation, FFL began in early 2016 to fund the design of an equitable and inclusive engagement and resilience planning process in Plaquemines Parish. This all led to our partnership on LA SAFE.

The first roundtable discussion will welcome national, local, and global experts from Da Nang, Vietnam; Santa Fe, Argentina; and Vejle, Denmark. Together they will present case studies on new solutions to challenges in their respective home countries, and learn more about the LA SAFE process from Louisiana representatives. The second roundtable will take place in Bellagio, Italy in the fall of 2018, and the details for the third and final session are still being determined.

About The Rockefeller Foundation
For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot — or will not. For more information, please visit www.rockefellerfoundation.org.