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.