11 July 2017

Public-Private Partnerships Contribute to Resilience Dialogues’ Successful Beta Phase

Posted by Chris McEntee

Across the United States, local leaders are stepping up their commitment to climate adaptation and mitigation.  In addition to our public voice about the urgent need to address climate change, AGU, working with U.S. Global Change Research Program and many other partners, is honored to support those local leaders through the Resilience Dialogues. At the end of June, this program, reached an exciting milestone and I can proudly share that the first 10 communities in the beta phase have now completed their dialogues.

The Resilience Dialogues fills a knowledge void; all cities and towns face the daunting task in identifying relevant scientific expertise and in sorting through and selecting a path forward in climate resilience from among a vast array of available options and resources. In smaller or more rural cities and towns, this task is even more complicated as these localities may not always have the expertise and experience needed to identify unintended consequences or cross-sector interdependencies of climate  resilience. And, given the chance to sit down (virtually) and discuss this with a range of scientific and other experts, they can zero in on the best available resources to help them get started on reducing the impacts of climate change. The Resilience Dialogues then helps city leaders identify and connect with tools and resources that will be most relevant and tailored to their local needs. For example, if flooding causes roads and schools to close then parents can’t report to work. The Resilience Dialogues can point cities to strategies other cities have used to manage this, federal programs that can help them mitigate flooding, and even data sets and scientific experts they can work with to estimate changing flood frequency.

The strength of the Resilience Dialogues lies in the depth and breadth of its partnerships which includes the following federal agency partners: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and of course our co-lead, the U.S. Global Change Research Program. It is supported by funding from the Kresge Foundation and at least 10 other partner organizations and companies serve on the leadership team or in other capacities. Representatives from partner networks and agencies participate in two weeks of asynchronous, facilitated online dialogues with the communities lending their expertise to a final report of key vulnerabilities, opportunities and resources discussed and identified.

The 10 communities participating in the Resilience Dialogues represent a diverse group of cities and towns across the United States that are seeking to adopt adaptation and resilience strategies in the face of very real impacts of climate change.

Photo of Downtown Whitefish, MT

Photo of Downtown Whitefish, MT

The 10 participating communities were:

  • Antioch, CA
  • Mt. Shasta, CA
  • San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, CA
  • Bridgeport, CT
  • Menominee Reservation
  • Boynton Beach, FL
  • Hallandale Beach, FL
  • Savannah, GA
  • East Lansing, MI
  • Whitefish, MT

Broad partnerships are so critical to our success because communities participate in the dialogues for many reasons; they are interested in having conversations about sea level rise, changes in storm frequency, changes in severity of storms, how to maintain their tourism industry, protect residents, grow the local economy, and look at both new development and ensuring current infrastructure can survive for the next 50 years. Earth and space science plays an important role in those decisions and I’m proud of the efforts TEX and our federal and non-government partners have made to help communities make steps toward climate resilience that is grounded in sound science.

What the success of these first dialogues show is that many different regions across the country recognize the real effects of climate change and the need to address those effects. The Resilience Dialogues helps connect local communities to the most appropriate and best matched scientific expertise and resources for them, which includes key resources from and expertise within, and outside of, the federal government.

Climate resilience itself is not a partisan issue. It’s something that communities, whether in a red state or a blue state, will face every day. Communities are going to continue to spend money on resiliency whether it comes before or after a natural disaster. Investment in resiliency makes sense financially—a Multihazard Mitigation Council study showed that every $1 spent by FEMA on hazard mitigation saves the U.S. $4 in the future. Changes within the administration’s priorities or cuts to federal science funding are not going to stop communities from having to address the local impacts of climate change. Programs like the Resilience Dialogues are strongest thanks to the work of our network of partners and resiliency and adaptation planning are critical to keeping local infrastructure strong and ensuring public health and safety.

The next round of the Resilience Dialogues is a few months away, but if you’d be interested in participating, or know a community that might be, please contact the Resilience Dialogues here.