How do we protect public health while navigating barriers to climate change adaptation? Lessons learned from the Sunshine State

For the attention of: Public health departments – local and state; Planning agencies – city and state; Universities – public health, public policy and planning departments

The problem: Public health departments face a range of challenges to effectively adapt to climate change, including contentious politics. The state of Florida is one of the most vulnerable states to climate change but climate change can be a controversial issue.

This study seeks to understand how public health departments can overcome barriers to adaptation to address public health threats related to climate change.

What we did and why: We wanted to understand the ways in which public health departments in Florida are working to protect vulnerable populations from the effects of climate change. We reviewed reporting documents from the Florida Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (FLBRACE) program and interviewed former program administrators and project managers. We examined the activities public health departments are undertaking to address climate change, the challenges they faced and how they overcame these obstacles.

What our study adds: This study adds to the growing literature on the role of public health practitioners in climate adaptation planning.

  • It provides local perspectives from a state which is very vulnerable to the effects of climate change, but where they face political and institutional constraints.
  • It identifies ways to strategically implement climate adaptation projects while also attending to realities of climate change politics.

Implications for city policy and practice: This study provides insight into the challenges faced by local health officials to effectively navigate constraints to develop and implement climate adaptation policies and programs. It highlights the need for cities and states to seek and support capacity building initiatives which can assist practitioners design programs which protect public health in innovative ways.

Resources and further information:
Florida Building Resilience Against Climate Effects  Website Facebook
Centres for Disease Control  and Prevention Climate Change and Health Programme 

Full research article: Incremental advancements in public health adaptation to climate change in Florida

Authors: Tisha Holmes (@tishjosepholmes) and David Eisenman
Editor: Marcus Grant