4 Steps to a Climate Savvy Community: Rapid Vulnerability Assessment Tool for Climate-informed Equitable Community Development

Strong, Prosperous, And Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), EcoAdapt
Posted on: 6/17/2020 - Updated on: 6/17/2020

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Rapid Climate Vulnerability Assessments (RCVAs) enable people to see where community vulnerabilities intersect with climate stressors. Vulnerability assessments aren’t new. Natural resource managers have been using them to document and adapt to climate change events for over a decade. But use of an RCVA by communities for local planning (development, services, resources) is just beginning. This particular tool was developed for the Strong, Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC) to create climate-savvy investments that perpetuate inclusive, equitable, sustainable community development practices that also contribute to community health and well-being. Designed and piloted with some SPARCC communities, the RCVA allows users to quickly identify core challenges, immediate interventions, and resources to support climate informed actions going forward.

This RCVA is a simple, four-step process designed to evaluate community vulnerability to climate change while collaboratively finding solutions. The RCVA starts with the community members’ existing local goals and priorities, and helps communities make connects between people and the environment by considering how their activities might be affected by the many impacts of climate change—from hotter summers to rising seas. By considering both existing stressors relating to health, equity or any other community priorities, and the effects of climate change, RCVAs enable people to understand how climate change directly affects their lives. Once those initial links are made, community members collaborate in the workshop (and after) to address vulnerabilities and foster what the community cares about. That leads to decisions about investment and revitalization that support all members of the community, including the most vulnerable, to better withstand the effects of climate change. RCVAs provide a common language so leaders and advocates across the housing, transportation, environmental, health and social justice fields can collaborate.

Using readily available climate data, local knowledge and simple worksheets, RCVAs guide you from awareness of the risk from climate change for your work to collaboratively developing durable solutions to reduce that risk, while creating a just, healthy and sustainable future.


Hansen, L.J. and M. Ramirez. 2020. Rapid Climate Vulnerability Assessment Tool for Climate-Informed Equitable Community Development. Strong, Prosperous and Resilient Community Challenge.


Hansen, L.J. and M. Ramirez. 2020. Rapid Climate Vulnerability Assessment Tool for Climate-Informed Equitable Community Development. Strong, Prosperous and Resilient Community Challenge.

Affiliated Organizations

SPARCC is investing in and amplifying local efforts underway in six regions to ensure that new investments reduce racial disparities, build a culture of health, and prepare for a changing climate. The initiative’s long-term goal is to change the way metropolitan regions grow, invest, and build through integrated, cross-sector approaches that benefit low-income people and communities of color.

NRDC is the nation's most effective environmental action group, combining the grassroots power of 1.3 million members and online activists with the courtroom clout and expertise of more than 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals. With the support of our members and online activists, NRDC works to solve the most pressing environmental issues we face today: curbing global warming, getting toxic chemicals out of the environment, moving America beyond oil, reviving our oceans, saving wildlife and wild places, and helping China go green.

EcoAdapt is at the center of climate change adaptation innovation. We provide support, training, and assistance to make conservation and management less vulnerable and more Climate Savvy. Over the past 200 years, great strides have been made in the world of conservation and now all of that is at risk because of climate change. EcoAdapt is working to ensure the success of these past efforts by delivering a framework for climate adaptation.


Document Type
Adaptation Phase
Sector Addressed
Target Climate Changes and Impacts

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