2021 Climate Adaptation Action Plan - U.S. Dept. of State
Executive Order 14008 states “we face a climate crisis that threatens our people and communities, public health and economy, and, starkly, our ability to live on planet Earth.” With a global footprint that supports critical foreign policy and national security work, American citizen services, and humanitarian assistance, the Department of State’s ability to achieve its mission will be inevitably impacted by climate change. In fact, it is already happening - from hurricanes that took State facilities offline in Charleston, South Carolina, to severe drought in Johannesburg, South Africa that required the installation of additional boreholes and water efficiency measures at the consulate, the increasing severity and frequency of natural disasters around the world has required the Department to adapt in order to sustain ongoing operations.
The Department has three overarching climate adaptation and resilience goals:
- Protect the health and safety of personnel
- Adapt Department facilities, operations, and mission-critical services to be more resilient
- Lead by example through showcasing climate adaptation and resilience solutions
Known challenges include limited climate related expertise within the management workforce to implement priority actions, the Department’s reliance on local infrastructure to provide mission critical supplies, such as electricity and water, and a lack of granular data in many areas overseas that lead to uncertainties regarding future climate impacts.
The plan contains the Department’s five initial priority actions to advance the Department’s resilience and adaptation to climate change. These priority adaptation actions include enhancing mobility, updating emergency preparedness assessments, enabling climate-ready sites and facilities, evaluating supply chain and procurement, and improving local infrastructure through host country engagement.
An essential enabler to achieving these five goals will be creating decision support tools that help track and identify the most at-risk facilities, supplies, and relevant local infrastructure in order to prioritize resources and action. In 2022, the Department will conduct its first climate vulnerability assessment for overseas facilities using a newly developed tool, the Climate Hazards Dashboard, which will provide greater insight into the risks posed at our embassies and consulates around the world. The Department will continue to build decision support tools that leverage internal datasets, such as real-time power quality, air quality, and electricity data available via the Greening Diplomacy Initiative Internet of Things Network (IoT), as well as external datasets from our interagency and host nation partners.
The Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan complements the Sustainability Plan, which specifies metrics for measuring our progress to achieve the Department’s and Administration’s environmental and climate goals.