14 September 2021
Talking about climate adaptation in Louisiana
In partnership with the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, BHP is helping deliver a unique three-year educational program to engage the residents of Louisiana in a conversation about the future of their coastline.
The coastal communities of Louisiana face an uncertain future with the impacts of climate change threatening homes, jobs and a unique cultural heritage. With further land loss and costs predicted to be significant, the United States’ first ‘climate refugees’ are planning the relocation of their community. If no further coastal protection or restoration action is taken, Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Agency (CPRA) projects Lafourche Parish, for example, will face a potential loss of 41 per cent of its land area over the next 50 years. CPRA also projects the potential economic damage will surpass $US1 billion.
With new engineering strategies tackling the physical threat, this program targets vulnerable coastal communities with a focus on education, information and civic empowerment. The aim is to increase awareness of climate change, coastal land loss and its impacts on local communities; increase opportunities for communities and the state to discuss climate change and its effects on the local community; and enhance the skills of citizens to hold critical conversations around climate change, coastal erosion and possible solutions.
Through this program, many of Louisiana’s vulnerable citizens are learning about the impacts of climate change through public outreach, storytelling and civic discussion.
- A reading program for children and adults, PRIME TIME, which was developed with our support in 2016–2018, has been adapted to highlight themes of resilience, sustainability, environmental change, relocation, community, home and hope.
- Two new PRIME TIME book series – for preschoolers and children in primary grades – and a discussion guide, PRIME TIME Sustain, were developed to explore resilience, self-reliance, environmental change, relocation, stewardship, hope, living with water, coping and sustainability.
- In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 132 team members were trained to deliver PRIME TIME’s award-winning literacy methodology and provide materials online. This supported hundreds of Louisianans and offered families a space to process their changing environment.
- The Smithsonian Institution exhibition, Water/Ways, opened in May 2021 and is travelling to four coastal and two inland communities. The exhibition focuses on the relationship between people and water, and how water is essential for the planet, impacts the climate and will help to shape the landscape and economy.
- Filming is underway for the BHP-funded documentary, Fruit of the Parish, a short documentary about the African American and Afro Creole communities who live on the last 70 miles of the Mississippi River. More than any other parish in Louisiana, Plaquemines Parish faces imminent land loss threatening livelihoods, homes and the wellbeing of residents.
We are seeking to empower citizens to be part of the ongoing decision-making processes that impact their communities, enhance their capabilities and provide them the opportunity to be part of the conversation about how to address climate resilience and adaptation in their local communities. The program also demonstrates our commitment to social value by making a positive contribution to society and elevating the voices of impacted people.