Transatlantic Solutions to Sea Level Rise Adaptation:
Moving Beyond the Threat

October 30-31, 2013; Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

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ACCESSEU — A Hampton Roads Initiative

In 2011, Old Dominion University was the recipient of a grant from the European Union Delegation to the United States in the first round of the ‘Getting to Know Europe’ competition. Over a period of eighteen months the project ACCESSEU — A Hampton Roads Initiative, engaged the Hampton Roads region in Southeastern Virginia in a series of programs, events, and activities that enhanced the regional community’s understanding of Europe, the European Union, and transatlantic relations.

Under the themes of Education, Community Awareness, and Local Networking, ACCESSEU reached out to different regional constituencies and focused on developing more systematic regional engagement with Europe. As part of these themes, the project organized conferences for the community at large, curriculum development workshops for High School teachers, a High School Model EU Simulation, quizzes, a seminar for the regional military community, a Study-Abroad Program with student blog, various trade and business related venues and two Regional Public Radio phone-in shows in celebration of Europe-Day, May 9.

The project developed a tailored methodology for measuring community impact and monitor how participants intend to use the knowledge they gained. A specific goal of the project was to link up with civic organizations whose own mission is to embrace education and regional development. These organizations multiplied the project’s reach and the regional visibility of the European Union. They also re-emphasized the urgent need to invest in the transatlantic relationship through sustained engagement across the Atlantic.

ACCESSEU was a first vital step towards renewing the transatlantic relationship in the Hampton Roads region. Though steeped in history, both colonial and modern, the region’s engagement with Europe must be nurtured in order to build the kind of communities across the Atlantic that sustain the European- American relationship in the future. As both Europe and the United States struggle with global challenges, they remain each other’s most trusted allies. But more than diagnostics are needed. Shared assessments of challenges must be transformed into joint solutions lest separate solutions undermine the common purpose.

ACCESSEU — Transatlantic Best Practices

In 2013, Old Dominion University was awarded a second grant for a follow-on proposal under the ‘Getting to Know Europe’ competition. Entitled ACCESSEU — Transatlantic Best Practices, we will build on the successes of the previous project and take the next steps in building a regional community actively contributing to transatlantic problem solving.

The focus on Transatlantic Best Practices will allow us to continue to inform and educate the regional community about the EU and Europe. At the same time, it refines and sharpens our focus to tackle pertinent issues on the agenda in both Europe and the United States. And, most importantly, it will infuse US dominated discussions with an EU/European dimension.

In the context of Transatlantic Best Practices the project’s signature European-American conference is focused on ‘Transatlantic Solutions to Sea Level Rise Adaptation: — Moving Beyond the Threat.’ Among the many challenges Europeans and Americans face, rising sea levels will have critical impact on where and how we live. In August 2010 Old Dominion University launched its Climate Change and Sea Level Rising Initiative (CCSLRI) to bring together university and regional experts in an effort to explore the economic, infrastructure, and housing consequences of rising sea levels. The Hampton Roads region ranks 19th in a world survey for global assets exposed to coastal flooding; rising sea levels exacerbate the impact of storm surges and coastal erosion. Europe too, is looking to avert economic disruption and social dislocation, especially, but not exclusively, for the lower lying countries in North-West Europe. Transatlantic Best Practices will focus on efficiencies and synergies that can be developed in such areas as public-private cooperation, regional planning, insurance issues, infrastructure development, and social issues of adaptation. The conference will bring together EU officials and experts from Europe to share approaches and perspectives with regional agencies, including the cities of Hampton Roads, the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, and the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission. The goal of the conference is to seek collaboration across the Atlantic on sea level rise adaptation.