The state of Florida is home to some of the most diverse natural habitats in the world as well as almost 22 million people. Its geographic location makes it a state that will feel the harshest impacts of climate change, with increasingly intense hurricane seasons, rising seawater levels, and toxic algal blooms threatening the state’s communities and biodiversity. How are local leaders in Florida addressing these challenges, and what lessons do they have to share with other cities around the world?
Focus on Florida: Addressing Climate Change in the Sunshine State
Dr. Jennifer Jurado is Broward County’s Chief Resilience Officer and Director of the Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division where she oversees countywide climate resiliency initiatives, water resource policy and planning, environmental monitoring, shoreline protection and marine resources programs. She has been a key figure in the advancement of multi-jurisdictional initiatives with a focus on sustainable water resource management and sea level rise adaptation planning. She played a lead role in the organization and advancement of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, a four-county collaboration focused on regional climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, and co-leads the Compact’s water resources and economic resilience work groups. Dr. Jurado earned her Ph.D. in Marine Biology and Fisheries from the University of Miami.
Chris Castro is an award winning sustainability professional, eco-entrepreneur, and community organizer with a passion for accelerating the transition to a smart, resilient and sustainable future. Chris is most notably known for his work as the founder and president of IDEAS For Us, an international nonprofit and United Nations accredited organization working to develop, fund, and scale environmental solutions around the World; and co-creator of the renowned ‘Fleet Farming’ urban agriculture program that started in Orlando.
Among some of his recognition, Chris has been called the ‘Guru of Green’ by the Orlando Business Journal, selected as a GreenBiz ‘30 Under 30’ sustainability professional in the U.S., and recognized as a ‘Grist 50 Fixer’, one of the top 50 emerging sustainability leaders around the World.
Chris is currently the Director of Sustainability and Co-chair of the Smart Cities initiative for Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and the City of Orlando. In his role at the City, he works to develop cross-sector partnerships, policies, and programs that support the sustainability, energy, and climate-related goals of the “Green Works Orlando” initiative.
Over the last 10 years, Chris has consulted for governments, academia, business chambers, companies, nonprofits and communities to implement sustainability projects that include a wide variety of topics, specifically smart cities, solar energy development, building efficiency, electric vehicles, local food systems, water quality, ecological restorations and more.
In 2012, Chris co-founded a clean energy consulting and development firm called Citizen Energy, specializing in custom clean energy solutions for small and mid-sized commercial and multifamily buildings in Florida and the Greater Washington DC-area. Chris also sits on several nonprofit boards, including the US Green Building Council of Florida (USGBC-FL), Florida Green Chamber of Commerce (FGCC), Florida Renewable Energy Association (FREA), FL Solar United Neighborhoods (FL SUN), and the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community. Chris also recently joined the Advisory Board for the Orlando Science Center, University of Central Florida’s clean energy research institute known as the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), and the Valencia College’s Engineering and Computer Science department.Chris holds a B.S. Environmental Science and Policy with a minor in Energy& Sustainability from the University of Central Florida, and has several technical certifications including LEED accreditation.