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2023 National Security Conference


As emphasized by the 2022 National Security Strategy and 2022 National Defense Strategy, climate change is both a challenge that poses a serious threat to U.S. national security and an opportunity to come together with allies and partners to strengthen our resilience. This is not unique to the U.S., however. Climate change is an international security issue the world over. This conference will serve as a bridge between academia and the policy world as we translate research evidence-based best practices into tangible policy considerations that enhance our adaptability to known and future climate threats. The panels will examine: the critical role that ports play in supporting national security and how they are increasing resilience to climate change impacts; how data can measure the climate problem and what tools can be used to do so; the importance of environmental justice to protect the socially vulnerable; and how to evaluate the best policy interventions. 



Conference Agenda

Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)
Click on speaker's name to access a video recording of their remarks.

8:00 - 8:30 am:
Light breakfast and registration

Introduction by Dr. Kathryn H. Floyd, Director, Whole of Government Center of Excellence, William & Mary

Welcome by Katherine A. Rowe, President, William & Mary

Opening Address by Admiral James G. Foggo, USN (ret.), Dean, Center for Maritime Strategy; Member, American Academy of Diplomacy

9:15 - 10:30am:
Panel 1: "Ports and National Security: How we can increase resilience to climate change"

Panel Description:
This panel will discuss the critical role that ports play in supporting national security by importing and exporting goods, providing terminals to service military vessels, and serving as staging areas for assembly of large offshore wind turbines; and how ports are taking steps to increase their resilience to climate change impacts on their infrastructure and operations.

  • Professor Elizabeth A. Andrews, Professor of Practice and Director, Virginia Coastal Policy Center, W&M Law School
  • Rick Dwyer, United States Air Force (ret.), Executive Director, Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance
  • Randall "Keith" Nelson, United States Coast Guard (ret.), Senior Facilitator, U.S. Global Maritime Operational Threat Response (MOTR) Coordination Center (GMCC) 
  • Capt. Jennifer Stockwell, Commander of Sector Virginia, United States Coast Guard

10:30 - 10:45am:
Networking Break

10:45am - 12:00pm:
Panel 2: "Assessing the Situation: Tools and techniques to support decision-making under climate change"

Panel Description:
As sea levels rise and storm events increase in frequency and intensity, it is critical to consider future conditions in planning efforts. However, uncertainty in forecasts and a lack of true understanding of the bounds of uncertainty can paralyze decision-making processes or lead decision makers to ignore the uncertainty in their planning. This panel will discuss the tools and information available for forecasting the future and strategies to build uncertainty into the planning process.

  • Professor Christopher D'Elia, Dean of the College of the Coast and Environment, Louisiana State University
  • Anne Jackson, Sustainability and Building Performance Strategist, Noblis
  • Dr. J. Derek Loftis, Research Assistant Professor, Virginia Institute of Marine Science
  • Dr. Molly Mitchell, Research Assistant Professor, Virginia Institute of Marine Science [Moderator]
  • Dr. Krista Romita Grocholski, Physical Scientist, The RAND Corporation

12:00 - 1:00pm:
Working Lunch

  • Reflections and Introductions by David Yalof, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
  • The Project on International Peace and Security (PIPS) student presentations
    • Kevin Bloodworth. "The Road to El Dorado: How Canadian Mining Exacerbates Violence in Latin America & Africa"

    • Anna Glass. “The Binding Power of Pipelines: The Security Risks and Opportunities of Global Desalination Proliferation”

    • Lucy Shearer. “Russia's Handmaid's Tale: Pronatalism and the Erosion of female autonomy in Europe”

    • Aaraj Vij. “Compartmentalization & Community Moderation: A Framework to Combat Disinformation and Extremism on Social Media”

    • Jacqueline Zimmerman. “Disillusionment & Dissent: The Propensity for Environmental Populism Among Gen Z”

    • Supported by Faculty Professors Amy C. Oakes and Dennis Alcides Velazco Smith 
  • W&M Global Innovation Challenge (WMGIC) briefing and case challenge overview
    • George Hage

1:00 - 1:30pm:
Keynote Address by Rear Admiral Phillips, USN (ret.), Administrator, Maritime Administration/MARAD, U.S. Department of Transportation

1:30 - 2:30pm:
Panel 3: "Adapting Ethics and Policy for More Just Climate Futures"

Panel Description:
As average global temperatures rise and natural disasters become more frequent and severe, marginalized communities worldwide are bearing the brunt of the associated health, food, water, and livelihood risks. This panel brings together local, regional, and international experts who will share their expertise and insights on identifying innovative solutions to climate adaptation and mitigation from an environmental justice lens.

  • Dr. Sasikumar Balasundaram, Adjunct Lecturer of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, William & Mary
  • Dr. James F. Groves, Associate Professor, Dept. of Engineering & Society, School of Engineering, University of Virginia
  • Dr. Nicole S. Hutton, Associate Professor, Political Science & Geography, Old Dominion University
  • Dr. Sarah Stafford, CSX Professor of Economics and Public Policy and Department Chair, William & Mary [Moderator]
  • Ann Vaughan, Senior Advisor for Climate Change, Bureau for Resilience and Food Security, USAID

2:30 - 2:45pm:
Networking Break

2:45 - 3:45pm:
Panel 4: "Data innovation in conflict zones: collecting and utilizing data to guide climate resilience and security policy in Afghanistan"

Panel Description:
On the ground data collection has long been considered an essential step to evaluate international programs and inform policy on climate resilience and security. In conflict zones, such data collection is difficult or impossible. In this panel, researchers and policy-makers discuss innovative methods for collecting and utilizing data in modern day conflict zones - with a focus on Afghanistan - and best practices for using this data to inform policy.

  • Dr. Ariel BenYishay, Associate Professor of Economics, William & Mary [Moderator]
  • Dr. William Byrd, Senior Expert, Afghanistan, United States Institute of Peace
  • Tim Carroll, Weather and Climate Portfolio Lead, Microsoft
  • The Honorable Ronald E. Neumann, President, American Academy of Diplomacy
  • Dr. Rachel Sayers, Research Scientist, AidData, William & Mary 

3:45 - 4:00pm:
Closing Remarks

  • Kathleen T. Jabs, USN (ret.), Special Assistant to the President for Military & Veteran Affairs, William & Mary
  • Dr. Kathryn H. Floyd, Director, Whole of Government Center of Excellence, William & Mary

4:15 - 6:00pm: 
Closing Reception in Partnership with the Public Policy Program

This event is possible due to partnerships with:

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