The Everglades Coalition convenes its 36th annual conference Feb. 2-5, 2021 with the theme “Equitable Everglades,” highlighting the need to preserve and restore the diversity of ecosystems that comprise the greater Everglades and to look at Everglades protection and restoration efforts with a lens centered on equity and justice: lifting voices, stories and perspectives of frontline and marginalized communities.
This year’s conference will be held virtually and is accessible to Everglades stakeholders across the state and nation. The four-day event features speakers and educational breakout sessions on a variety of topics relevant to the restoration of America’s Everglades, with a special focus on the need to include diverse perspectives and goals in the ongoing work to achieve ecosystem restoration. Attendees include scientists, educators, conservationists, the media, students and concerned citizens, as well as decision-makers and representatives from federal, state, local, and tribal governments.
“While we will miss gathering in person, the virtual conference is an opportunity to bring together diverse voices with each participant gaining a greater understanding of the issues impacting the Everglades and expanding the dialogue on how to achieve a truly ‘Equitable Everglades’ ,” said Marisa Carrozzo, co-chair of the Everglades Coalition and Everglades & water policy manager at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.
Marking the milestone 20th anniversary of the passage of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) in the year 2000, the 2021 conference is an opportunity to reflect on both restoration progress and the need to bring equity, justice, and inclusion into all aspects of the restoration framework. Achieving the shared vision of a restored Everglades will continue to take the combined efforts of the diverse Everglades community, state and federal agency partners, tribal nations, and strong bipartisan leadership. As President Biden takes office, the Coalition has called upon the new administration to commit to a multi-year funding investment that will deliver clean water, climate resilience, quality jobs, and a strengthened economy in Florida by including $725 million in the Presidential budget request to Congress, totaling $2.9 billion over four years.
“Restoring the Everglades requires the collaboration of multiple partners at the local, state and federal levels, and this conference offers an excellent opportunity to engage stakeholders and accelerate our mission towards Everglades restoration,” added Mark Perry, co-chair of the Everglades Coalition and executive director of the Florida Oceanographic Society.
Conference sessions cover a range of critical topics, including: the connection between Everglades restoration, climate change and justice; a progress report on Florida’s response to harmful algae blooms; issues surrounding Lake Okeechobee water levels; and the need to implement a bold vision to restore America’s Everglades. The conference will also highlight special sessions dedicated to featuring stories from forgotten voices and current perspectives from throughout the Greater Everglades.
The public is invited to participate in a complimentary virtual session, Everglades 101, on Tuesday, Feb. 2 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. This session is open to the public and appropriate for all audiences – from beginners to experts. Both English and Spanish language sessions are available.
Joining the Coalition for the 36th annual conference, speakers include: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District Commander Andrew Kelly, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Chief Science Officer Dr. Thomas Frazer, South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Members, South Florida Water Management District Executive Director Drew Bartlett, Earthjustice President Abigail Dillen, Sierra Club President Ramón Cruz.
Other distinguished speakers include: Zelalem Adefris, Reverend Houston R. Cypress, Guadalupe De La Cruz, Gwendolyn Delepine, Joe Frank, Kathleen and Robert O’Bryant, Audrey Peterman, Kendra Pinto, Reverend David Rogers, Doretha Hair Truesdell, Allyson Two Bears.
Earthjustice is the host sponsor. Additional supporters include “Okeechobee” sponsors: Conservancy of Southwest Florida, The Everglades Foundation, Everglades Trust, National Wildlife Federation, South Florida Water Management District; “Kissimmee Prairie” sponsors: Captains for Clean Water, “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society, Florida Oceanographic Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, United States Army Corps of Engineers; “Payhayokee” sponsors: Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership, National Parks Conservation Association, Sanibel and Captiva Chamber of Commerce, Sierra Club; and “Sawgrass Roots” sponsors: Artists in Residence in Everglades, Center for Biological Diversity, Everglades Law Center, Florida Native Plant Society, Friends of the Everglades, League of Women Voters of Florida.
About the Everglades Coalition
The Everglades Coalition is an alliance of more than 60 local, state and national conservation and environmental organizations dedicated to full restoration of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem, from the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes into Lake Okeechobee and to the estuaries, through the River of Grass, out to Florida Bay and the Keys. The Everglades Coalition strives to preserve and restore the diversity of ecosystems that comprise the greater Everglades and to provide a forum for those who depend on or care about those ecosystems. We are committed to being inclusive and fostering a collaborative environment where all stakeholders feel valued, respected, and engaged — both in our work as an alliance of separate organizations and as a model for engagement by our member organizations. Learn more at EvergladesCoalition.org.