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Webinar: Climate Change Preparedness Planning - Aired Dec. 5, 2012
Local governments are on the front lines of managing the impacts associated with natural hazards. As temperatures rise, impacts such as increased drought, flooding, and extreme heat and weather events will become more frequent straining water resources and infrastructure, putting lives and property at risk. This webinar will take a closer look at how communities are preparing and building local resilience to climate variability and climate-related disasters.
During this webinar there was a lively discussion concerning the climate adaptation process. Sustianability Officer, Lisa Friend and Sustainability Specialist Stephanie Smith, spoke about the adaptation planning processes being implemented in Boulder County, CO and Flagstaff, AZ and how they are working to build more resilience into their sectors. Below are some key takeaway points that presenters made during this webinar session:
"Adapt the process as you go"
Flagstaff set out to create a climate preparedness plan, but changed course and opted for an in-depth study, which guided the adoption of a resolution, which has the goal of institutionalizing resiliency into city decisions and allocated municipal resources.
"The power of leadership"
Flagstaff and Boulder County have strong leadership contingents that encouraged the adaptation planning process. This leadership can come from within the organization.
"Focus on the impacts"
Instead of focusing on the source of climate change, both governments focused squarely on the impacts occurring in their communities and projections for future impacts. This helped to circumvent "climate naysayers".
"Focus internally on the things that you can control first"
Flagstaff's plan focused on internal operations and how the functions of individual departments will be impacted by climate change.
"Support your plan with solid science"
Boulder County recruited the support of consultants to define how the change in climate is projected to impact the region. Downscaled climate projections are important in areas that have a varied terrain and geography.
"Address potential objections from the beginning"
Several months before the plan was released; Boulder County staff approached influential local climate naysayers and alerted them of the development of the adaptation plan. Questions and comments gathered during public meetings, surveys, and by email are listed in the appendix of Boulder County's plan along with staff responses to all feedback.
"Consider retaining a consultant to sift through the climate science"
Working under a limited budget, Boulder County had to choose between an in-depth scientific evaluation of global climate models or focusing on intense community engagement. They retained consultants that best suited their objectives.
"Adaptation planning is gaining traction"
The adoption of Boulder County's plan is encouraging local municipalities in the region to incorporate adaptation into their planning efforts.
"Flexible Adaptation Pathways"
When the future is uncertain, ensure that plans have the flexibility to incorporate new scientific data. This approach may also allow cities to spread the cost of adaptation over a longer period of time, as the implementation of strategies are phased in.
"Proactive planning can reveal many low cost solutions"
Although adaptation may require costly solutions, such as the retrofitting of existing infrastructure, proactive adaptation planning can reveal many low-cost solutions, such as improved emergency preparedness plans, public education, and new maintenance and operations procedures.
Think "Anticipate and Adapt" instead of "Predict and Plan"
Communities need to move beyond the "predict and plan" or traditional planning paradigm and "anticipate and adapt, or incorporate ideas of anticipatory governance, a new model of decision making that operates under circumstances of high uncertainty that uses a wide range of possible futures to anticipate adaptation strategies, and then monitor change and uses the lessons learned to guide decision making.
"Think of Adaptation as an umbrella framework for all preparedness efforts"
Comprehensive climate adaptation planning is really an umbrella framework for adaptation planning activities that are currently occurring in a more piecemeal fashion.
"Cities routinely work to adapt to the current climate"
Emergency preparedness plans, sound land-use and transportation policies, heat relief initiatives, wildfire prevention measures, urban agriculture policy, water supply planning, and infrastructure design are all examples of ways communities are employing adaptation planning. Cities possess much of the necessary expertise, mechanisms and tools to deal with climate change.
Future webinar topics include:
- Scenario planning
- Downscaling global climate models to the local level
- Climate change and community outreach
- Conducting risk assessments
- Stephanie Smith, Sustainability Specialist for the City of Flagstaff
- Lisa Friend, Sustainability Officer for Boulder County
- Erika Mahoney, Program Associate for Sonoran Institute
- SCOTie Case Study: Boulder County, CO Climate Change Preparedness Plan (C2P2)
- SCOTie Case Study: Flagstaff, AZ Resiliency and Preparedness Study
- Yale Project on Climate Change Communications: Extreme Weather, Climate & Preparedness
- Scenario Planning Tools website - www.scenarioplanningtools.org
- Institute for Sustainable Communities
- Georgetown Climate Center