Water, water everywhere…and more to come.
Meet Jake Kheel, coastal development and sustainability expert, when Cucalorus Connect, the two-day innovation conference embedded in the Cucalorus Festival week continues a conversation thread from UNCW’s Global Marine Science Summit.
Last week, scientists, policy makers and industry leaders convened to explore Advancing the Blue Economy: Innovation, Resiliency & Collaboration.
Visiting from New Orleans, architect and urban designer, Ramiro Diaz, predicted a new, radically different future for managing water in our cities. To sustain a coastal city in the face of environmental change, we must revolutionize our thinking about urban water by harnessing natural processes that we have worked for centuries to bury, divert, wall off and hide. Diaz presented what ‘radical’ change looks like in space and time with photos and graphical illustrations of projects in New Orleans, Norfolk, and Charleston.
Post-Katrina, Diaz’ firm, Waggonner & Ball initiated the Dutch Dialogues in collaboration with the Royal Netherlands Embassy and the American Planning Association. They convened urban design and water sector experts to reimagine how the fundamental qualities of water and the landscape might be shaped. Borrowing from 800 years of Dutch experience, the Dialogues proposed to embrace water to make the city safer, healthier, and more desirable.
The Dutch Dialogues catalyzed an urban water movement. In New Orleans, workshops led to the funding of the Water Plan, which is part of the city's Resilient NOLA master plan, and has inspired projects and organizations throughout the city.
Also at the summit, UNCW physics professor Dylan McNamara used Wrightsville Beach to illustrate the fragile dynamics of human-occupied coastlines characterized by human-manipulated erosion rates, dense populations, immobile infrastructures, high property values, and the occurrence of large, infrequent catastrophes. With increasing rates of sea level rise and the eventual inundation of the existing built environment, our coastal locales are destined to become unstable and true adaptation to climate forces is being hampered by short-term mitigation.
Back to Jake Kheel, coming to Connect to share the lessons learned from developing the eastern coastal region of the Dominican Republic.
Jake is a sustainability innovator. As the leader of the Grupo Puntacana Foundation, he has made Dominican tourism more competitive and environmentally sustainable. Jake has received the World Tourism Travel Council “Tourism for Tomorrow”, the Conde Nast Traveler “World Saver’s”, the Travel & Leisure “Global Vision” and the National Geographic Traveler “Leader in Sustainable Tourism” awards.
Jake is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. He produced the documentary “Death by a Thousand Cuts” that investigates a Dominican park ranger’s murder and explores illegal Dominican-Haitian charcoal trafficking, mass deforestation and escalating human conflict on the border.
Grupo Puntacana has been navigating the environmental and social costs of development to accommodate tourism. The company has built schools, health clinics, and designed the largest waste management systems in the country, effectively diverting close to 60 percent of waste to sell as recyclables or compost. They run a large-scale coral reef restoration program and have a private ecological reserve and protected habitat for endangered species. They’ve integrated local fishers and their families into the tourism sector, and created viable alternative livelihoods that reduce overfishing.
Join the conversation at Cucalorus Connect.
Diane Durance, MPA, is director of UNC Wilmington's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The CIE is a resource for the start-up and early-stage business community to help diversify the local economy with innovative solutions. For more information, visit www.uncw.edu/cie.
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