Hampton Roads Sea Level Rise Preparedness and Resilience Intergovernmental Pilot Project Phase 2 Report: Recommendations, Accomplishments and Lessons Learned

The Hampton Roads Sea Level Rise Preparedness and Resilience Intergovernmental Planning Pilot Project was a two-year project to develop an adaptive planning strategy for sea level rise and recurrent flooding - through the collaboration of academic, military, government, and community partners. The Pilot sought to develop resilience and preparedness measures at the regional level with emphasis on impacts to national security and the economy, and to create a framework or template for intergovernmental strategic planning that could be used outside the region. The project was established to take a “whole of government” approach to coordinating the planning of the Federal, Commonwealth agencies and Local governments in the Hampton Roads region of Norfolk, Virginia. The Phase II report reviews the pilot process and contains lessons learned and final recommendations for adaptation and resiliency to sea level rise and recurrent flooding.

Coordinated by Old Dominion University, the Pilot Project was conducted in two phases between 2014 - 2016, each lasting approximately one year. The goal of the first phase was to develop a Charter to set the organizational structure and operating procedures for coordinating intergovernmental sea level rise preparedness and resilience planning. The second phase produced ongoing strategies for intergovernmental collaboration as well as research, a number of case studies carried out by committees and working groups, and the development of recommendations for the region.

Working Group and Committees were developed to coordinate and conduct focal research and strategies. Comprehensive and summary reports are provided from the:

  • Legal Working Group
  • Infrastructure Working Group
  • Citizen Engagement Working Group
  • Public Health Working Group
  • Land Use Working Group
  • Science Advisory Committee
  • Private Infrastructure Advisory Committee
  • Economic Impacts Advisory Committee

Each working group and advisory committee developed overall recommendations as they related to their respective area of expertise. This final report serves as a summary of the overall pilot process, and of the more detailed stand-alone working group and committee reports. The History, Objectives and Strategy; Actions and Accomplishments; Lessons Learned; and Recommendations are provided for each working group or committee. (The complete independent committee and working group reports are located in the Appendices.)

Recommendations of each working group and advisory committee are included in the respective section, and are also shown in a summary chart in Section 3. Some example recommendations from across all of the focal groups are:

Localities within the Hampton Roads Planning District should coordinate with other localities, whenever possible, to conduct economic impact studies. This ensures that the studies are broader in geographical scope and provide a more regional view of the impacts of sea level rise.

Identify a respected regional entity to “own” and be responsible for being the thought leader on sea level rise in Hampton Roads and for convening Whole of Community deliberations regarding sea level rise.

Private infrastructure systems need reliable information and guidance in planning for SLR. Provide regionally recognized science-based SLR scenarios for private industry to incorporate in long-range planning. This standardization will eliminate confusion across the region and enable companies and industries with facilities throughout the region to proactively adapt to SLR.


Old Dominion convened the Hampton Roads initiative in 2014 as a result of a White House executive order directing the Department of Defense to address climate change and sea level rise. Though Hampton Roads is unique in that it is home to the largest Naval base in the world, a key port, and a unique history and geography, the lessons learned throughout the project can be utilized elsewhere.





Publication Date: October 19, 2016

Related Organizations:

  • Old Dominion University
  • U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
  • Hampton Roads Planning District Commission


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment
  • Case study
  • Policy analysis/recommendations

States Affected:


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