On May 26, 2022, the American Security Project and Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) cohosted an in-person public panel discussion on the costs of climate change and benefits of action in Norfolk, VA. Panelists for the event included Councilwoman Andria McClellan, City of Norfolk, Superward 6, Captain David Dees, Commanding Officer, Naval Station Norfolk, and ASP Consensus for American Security member Col Dave Belote, USAF (Ret.). The panel was co-moderated by ASP CEO Patrick Costello and E2 Executive Director Bob Keefe and covered a range of climate issues.
Norfolk has the largest concentration of federal assets in the country, including the largest naval base in the world, and is often front and center of climate impact discussions. The greater Hampton Roads area routinely deals with flooding and has been working to adapt and mitigate sea level rise for many years. The discussion highlighted to the resilience work of several different organizations like RISE and Defense Community Infrastructure Program, but participants also expressed frustration with state and federal bureaucracies, which are frequently impediments to quicker action for projects and funding. The discussion also framed workforce development as a key issue as the region pivots to more “green jobs” and “green skills.” Councilwoman McClellan pointed out that the “human capital crisis” is also an important economic opportunity that can advance both individual and community climate goals.
While the challenges are many, the discussion ended on a positive note. Captain David Dees provided insights into how Norfolk Naval Station approaches climate change in line with Department of Navy and wider Department of Defense strategies and was confident in Norfolk Naval Station’s continued ability to navigate any operational challenges to ensure mission readiness and execution. The panelists highlighted the myriad of resilience activities in the region and were overall optimistic about the area’s future.