Policy Options for Climate-Resilient Infrastructure

A new federal infrastructure package presents a critical opportunity to strengthen America’s infrastructure against the growing risks posed by extreme weather and other impacts of climate change. Enhancing the climate resilience of the nation’s infrastructure can substantially reduce future losses, benefiting public health, safety, quality of life, and prosperity. This policy brief outlines the benefits of climate-resilient infrastructure and criteria that should inform infrastructure planning and investment to enhance climate resilience. It identifies the types of infrastructure projects that can promote resilience while simultaneously achieving other climate and energy goals and recommends changes to existing federal policies and programs to ensure ongoing improvement to the climate resilience of America’s infrastructure.

Upscaling Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Change Adaptation

There is a growing recognition of the benefits of nature-based solutions (NBS), a term that refers to projects and actions where natural ecosystems and their services are used in a sustainable and effective way in order to help tackle environmental and social challenges. Under the right circumstances, these solutions can provide alternatives that, compared with traditional infrastructure and engineering projects, are both cost-effective and capable of providing multiple benefits, while at the same time delivering conservation objectives. NBS can help society better adapt to climate change by, for example, addressing the risks of adverse impacts from extreme weather events, including droughts and floods, as well as food security issues. One example of NBS is use of the buffering capacity of riparian ecosystems, which act as a time and intensity buffer in the event of floods, but also as a filter for runoff waters. Nevertheless, it is essential to frame NBS within the right conditions; recent developments in ecological science and modelling have just started to provide a better understanding of what a “good operating space”—in other words, one that efficiently delivers these services—looks like for NBS.

Cost-Efficient Climate Change Adaptation in the North Atlantic

This report summarizes the work of two NOAA-funded graduate fellows research on community-level coastal flood management and climate change adaptation best practices throughout the North Atlantic region (Virginia to Maine). Guided by a steering committee composed of government and academic personnel involved with climate adaptation throughout the North Atlantic, the fellows visited coastal communities to collect information on low-cost climate change and related coastal hazard management best practices. The purpose of the work was to identify and collate cost-effective adaptation projects implemented at the municipal level, to provide NOAA with best practice information to assist with ongoing adaptation outreach.

Climate Change & Adaptation in the Great Lakes Region - Story After the Storm - Hilarie Sorensen

The Story After the Storm series examines the aftermath of Duluth's 2012 flood. The increased frequency of extreme weather, not only in Duluth but across the U.S., has given urgency to understanding community resiliency and regional climate change. The series is part of The Science Institute for Educators, sponsored by the Great Lakes Aquarium, Minnesota DNR MinnAqua Program, Minnesota Sea Grant, and The Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center. It is funded in part by the Coastal Zone Management Act, by NOAA's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, in conjuction with Minnesota's Lake Superior Coastal Program.

Climate-induced community relocations: using integrated social-ecological assessments to foster adaptation and resilience

Extreme weather events coupled with sea level rise and erosion will cause coastal and riverine areas where people live and maintain livelihoods to disappear permanently. Adaptation to these environmental changes, including the permanent relocation of millions of people, requires new governance tools. In the USA, local governments, often with state-level and national-level support, will be primarily responsible for protecting residents from climate-change impacts and implementing policies needed to protect their welfare. Government agencies have a variety of tools to facilitate protection in place and managed coastal retreat but have very limited tools to facilitate community relocation. In addition, no institutional mechanism currently exists to determine whether and when preventive relocation needs to occur to protect people from climate change impacts. Based on research involving four Alaska Native communities threatened by climate-induced environmental impacts, I propose the design and implementation of an adaptive governance framework to respond to the need to relocate populations. In this context, adaptive governance means the ability of institutions to dynamically respond to climate change impacts. A component of this adaptive governance framework is a social-ecological monitoring and assessment tool that can facilitate collaborative knowledge production by community residents and governance institutions to guide sustainable adaptation strategies and determine whether and when relocation needs to occur. The framework, including the monitoring and assessment tool, has not been systematically tested. However, the potential use of this tool is discussed by drawing on empirical examples of Alaskan communities faced with accelerating rates of erosion.

Regional Municipal Planning Strategy (2014)

The Regional Plan, as adopted in 2006, emphasized a balanced approach to development and established targets for directing housing growth over the life of the Regional Plan (2006-2031). Twenty-five percent of the growth was to be directed to the Regional Centre (Peninsula Halifax and Dartmouth between the Circumferential Highway and Halifax Harbour); fifty percent directed to the urban communities (communities serviced with publicly managed water and wastewater services outside the Regional Centre) and the remaining twenty-five percent to the rural areas.

In preparing the first five year review of the Plan, the Stantec Quantifying Study was commissioned to assess the public, private and social costs and benefits of various growth scenarios from 2011 to 2031. That Study also considered how these scenarios may impact our environment, health and social well-being and benchmarked HRM with other Canadian and US municipalities to assist in this evaluation. 

Durham Community Climate Adaptation Plan

This document constitutes Durham’s Community Climate Adaptation Plan. It includes 18 proposed programs that have been approved in principle by Durham Regional Council on behalf of the Durham community on December 14, 2016. These program concepts have now been referred to a number of responsible agencies across Durham and beyond for further development, costing, approval and implementation. In addition to addressing its own responsibilities, the Regional government will monitor progress on behalf of the community. 

 

Hawaiian Islands Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation Synthesis

The goal of the Hawaiian Islands Climate Synthesis Project was to develop comprehensive, science-based syntheses of current and projected future climate change impacts on, and adaptation options for, terrestrial and freshwater resources within the main Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaiian Islands Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation Synthesis presents the results of the major project components - climate impacts assessment, vulnerability assessment, and adaptation planning - and provides an inter-island analysis of the findings. More detailed information is available in the individual vulnerability assessment syntheses and adaptation summaries, and should be referred to for decision support, which can be found at http://bit.ly/HawaiiClimate.