Role-Play Workshops Accelerate County’s Adaptation Action

The Takeaway: Officials and residents in South Carolina’s Georgetown County practiced working through adaptation-related decisions and trade-offs with the help of a South Carolina research reserve and NOAA’s Science Collaborative program.

South Carolina’s Georgetown County needed to prepare for a projected future of intensifying storms, rising sea levels, and extra extreme-heat days. More than 300 officials and residents in role-play workshops collaborated to better understand area risks and weigh the various trade-offs of different policy solutions. The initiative upped local response capabilities and is expected to inform comprehensive planning. Partners include NOAA’s Science Collaborative, the North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and a NOAA-funded science assessment program.

Relationships forged during the workshops enabled North Inlet-Winyah Bay Research Reserve to craft a resilience training for the Georgetown County Department of Public Services that made emergency response and planning abilities even stronger. Other communities can use the project’s simulation tools and briefing document to fine-tune their own processes.

The workshops immersed participants in fictional Riverway County, as they role-played a realistic climate planning process informed by science and using real data relevant to the county. For many, the experience helped demystify the role of government in hazard planning. Participants gained clarity and empathy by taking on roles that differed from their real-life identities.

The Georgetown Climate Adaptation Project team led the workshops, which were adapted from a model first used by the New England Climate Change Adaptation Project. One partner, the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments, is a NOAA-supported program. Another partner, Georgetown RISE, was recently designated a United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development.

This project team received a grant of $99,102 from NOAA’s Science Collaborative, a program that’s managed in partnership with the University of Michigan. Visit the project page to learn more and access all products. (2020)

More Information: Georgetown Climate Adaptation Planning Project

Partners: Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments at the University of South Carolina, Coastal Carolina University, Consensus Building Institute, Georgetown RISE, National Estuarine Research Reserve System’s Science Collaborative, North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve