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Speaker Bio

Pam Rubinoff specializes in community resilience, advancing efforts that link coastal management and natural hazards. Pam works in both US-based initiatives and international programs focusing on sustainable coastal community development through capacity building, policy creation, and technical assistance to government and non-government partners. Rubinoff leads the Center’s program on Climate Change and the Coast.

Adapting to Coastal Climate Change: A Guidebook for Development Planners was recently completed by Rubinoff and colleagues from CRC and the US Agency for International Development, which provides a platform for enhancing knowledge and applying tools for coastal adaptation. International applications are currently being tested in the Republic of Marshall Islands and Ecuador. The initiatives build upon coastal management and hazards work by CRC and RISG, including a resilience assessment tool developed after the Indian Ocean Tsunami for rebuilding communities. Training modules have been developed in collaboration with NOAA and other institutions and delivered Vietnam, Philippines, Galapagos, Panama, and Micronesia.

As a Sea Grant extension specialist working with Rhode Island’s agencies and communities, Pam is applying smart growth and coastal adaptation tools to both built and natural environments. She has collaborated in the development of State sea level rise policy, designed hazard mitigation initiatives for the state’s urban core, and recently initiated efforts to build capacity of local land trusts to incorporate adaptation to their conservation efforts. Rubinoff was co-author of Smart Growth for Coastal and Waterfront Communities, a effort that grew from a Rhode island smart growth effort, that revealed that the smart growth principles needed to be refined for application to coastal areas, with their unique issues. These extension efforts will be enhanced by a new interdisciplinary Sea Grant research and outreach project focused on behavior change needed for adaptation to increasing sea level and storminess.

Rubinoff is the Principal Investigator for the Collaborative that draws on the expertise in the fields of psychology, oceanography, coastal management and communication sciences. The thinking behind the program is that people change risky behaviors in stages, and that communication targeted specifically at these stages are more effective.

Prior to joining the Rhode Island team, Pam worked for the Massachusetts Coastal Management Program as the Cape Cod/Islands Regional Coordinator. Early in her engineering career, she worked with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Peace Corps in Thailand. Ms. Rubinoff has a master degree in Marine Policy from the University of Rhode Island and a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from the University of Delaware. The Guidebook proposes an approach for assessing vulnerability to climate change and climate variability, developing and implementing adaptation options, and integrating options into programs, development plans, and projects at the national and local levels. For the US Agency for International Development, Rubinoff led and co-authored Adapting to Coastal Climate Change: A Guidebook for Development Planners (2009), which is based on a worldwide review of tools and examples of coastal adaptation options. The Guidebook is both a tool itself and a link to other resources for assessing vulnerability, developing and implementing adaptation options, and integrating options into programs, plans, and projects at national and local levels.

A pilot application in the Republic of the Marshall Islands is producing national guidance and lessons learned from applying a climate change “lens” to the country’s conservation strategy of developing community-based resource management plans. Training modules for 1, 2, 5 and 10-day workshops have been developed and delivered by Rubinoff and a team of partners including NOAA’s Coastal Services Center and Marine Sanctuary Program. A 5-day module for coastal adaptation to climate change was featured in the 2008 Coastal Institute-Asia and in the 2008 International Summer Institute for Coastal Management held in RI. With the support of a network of government, community, and private sector partners, Rubinoff worked with scientists and manager to develop a sea level rise policy for the Ocean State. Based on a synthesis of current climate science and its implications to Rhode Island, the new policy, which was adopted by the state CZM program in 2008, accommodates a 3-5 foot rise in sea level by 2100. A working group consisting of the URI/RI Sea Grant, the RI Coastal Resources Management Council, the RI Building Commission and the RI Emergency Management Agency, is now drafting construction guidelines for potential adoption into the state building code.

Funding provided by the Climate Program Office, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration to the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute.
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