The Climate Ready Communities team recently joined the excitement at the 4th National Adaptation Forum (NAF), the largest gathering of the climate adaptation community in North America that takes place every 2 years. It’s inspiring to be part of such a vibrant, diverse and motivated group. The numbers are not yet published for 2019, but it definitely felt like the largest attendance yet!
“We have been coming to NAF since its inception, and it is amazing how the conference has matured and changed over time. I remember the first year was focused on models and science. Now we’re talking about equity and inclusion, not just for communities, but for the adaptation field as well. And we’re talking about how to share what is working and not working so we can learn from each other. It’s exciting to be part of such a new and dynamic field.” Marni Koopman
The top themes at NAF2019 included tribal adaption, equitable adaptation, communication and engagement, indicators and monitoring, and actionable climate science, among others. There were over 100 sessions during the 3 day event.
It was standing room only for every single session in the Climate Resilience track at the 2019 National Planning Conference in mid-April. Every single session. Some sessions got so crowded that conference organizers began posting safety notices asking people not to stand in the back or sit on the floor. But the notices were routinely ignored as planners poured into sessions focused on how to integrate climate change considerations into their everyday work for communities of all size.
The popularity of the climate sessions underscores what we are seeing in professional societies across the nation as climate impacts become much more obvious and the need to take action more urgent. Planners are looking for help navigating climate science resources, engaging their elected officials and residents around the issue, and identifying sound investments in climate adaptation for their communities. It was the first time we introduced our soon to be launched Climate Ready Communities program to the planning community, and we found that many planners are in the difficult spot of knowing they need to take action, but not having the expertise to do it alone or the money to hire for consultant help.
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.
In an effort to help local leaders build climate resilience at an affordable cost, the Geos Institute announced its Climate Ready CommunitiesSM program at the 2017 ICMA annual conference in San Antonio, TX on Oct 22, 2017.
Our goal for this new program is to ensure that communities of all sizes in the US and Canada have effective climate resilience programs in place to protect their people, natural resources, infrastructure, and culture. This means solving the affordability challenge in climate resilience planning.
The Climate Ready Communities program will include a free, comprehensive Practical Guide to Building Resilience. This Guide is based on 10 years of experience helping communities understand and adapt to changing climate conditions, and our proven Whole Community framework.