5th UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Jonathan Dain
Session Name Collaborations and Partnerships
Author(s) Jonathan Dain,  Director, Florida Natural Resources Leadership Institute, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida (Presenting Author)
  Jessica Ireland,  Program Coordinator, Florida Natural Resources Leadership Institute, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida
  Building Capacity in Collaboration and Conflict Management for a State Facing Accelerating Change: The Florida Natural Resources Leadership Institute
  In 2014, Florida surpassed New York to become the nation’s third most populous state with close to 20 million people (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014). Projections suggest that by 2030 this number could reach 24 million (UF BEBR, 2015). Growing population implies increased pressure on water resources and increased numbers of stakeholders with competing interests in water and water management decisions – an estimated 7.7 bgd of fresh water will be required to support 24 million Floridians. A shifting landscape increasingly impacted by climate variability and sea level rise has already led to expensive and time consuming disputes over water quality and quantity issues as well as conflict over endangered species, land use and coastal and marine resources. Such disputes will only increase in the coming years and sustainable, innovative solutions will require more than just better data. The answers will also require heightened attention to collaborative governance approaches, effective communication, and workable conflict management strategies. Collaboration is not a given when competing interests are involved yet natural resource managers and scientists are rarely trained in the specialized set of skills and approaches it requires to work effectively across sectors and with diverse groups of stakeholders. To address the need for collaborative problem solving related to water and other natural resource issues, a UF Extension program called the Florida Natural Resources Leadership Institute (NRLI) has developed a model designed to help natural resource professionals from both the public and private sectors develop the skills and contacts needed to work together to address the complex challenges faced by the State of Florida. In this presentation, the approach will be described and examples will be provided. The NRLI program is not the answer to sustainable water resource challenges, but does offer one successful model for helping Florida manage competing interests in times of increasing complexity.