This month we are looking at the western states of California, Oregon, and Washington. All are generally progressive states and have embraced climate change both socially and legislatively with policy, funding, and political will. Despite working on climate issues for many years, there is more to do. Fortunately all three are positioned to make real headway.
The Sierra Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Partnership (Sierra CAMP) is a cross-sector partnership working to promote climate adaptation and mitigation strategies across the expansive Sierra Nevada region of California. Sierra CAMP, one of seven regional climate collaboratives in the state and a member of the Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation (ARCCA), is a program of Sierra Business Council. Sierra CAMP convenes a diverse group of public, private, and nonprofit entities including the Town of Truckee, U.S. Forest Service Region V, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, California Ski Industry Association, California Forestry Association, Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council, and the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment.
California leads the nation in both requiring climate change adaptation action by local communities as well as supporting local leaders so they can be effective in taking that action. Our team headed to Sacramento for the three day conference hoping to not only share our Climate Ready Communities program, but also to hear what new innovations are being developed in California that could be used elsewhere.
The fires and mudslides in California are confirming what we have known for several years in the adaptation field – people who are already struggling due to low-income, systemic racism, disability, and language barriers are hit the hardest by climate disruption and have a harder time recovering. This fact is putting a fine point on the need to integrate these under-resourced communities into the adaptation planning process so that their needs can be fully met through community action.
We were also reminded that these communities, while struggling, are also incredibly resilient and have something to bring to the solutions table. Adaptation frameworks and processes and the people who run them need to avoid the sense that these people need to be saved. They have been saving themselves for a very long time. What they need from adaptation processes is an acknowledgement that more resources will need to be invested in their concerns in order to have an equitable outcome across a community. Then they need to be equal partners at the table.