Governors’ Climate Resilience U.S. Climate Alliance Playbook 2021

United States Climate Alliance
Posted on: 12/08/2021 - Updated on: 7/01/2022

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The 2021 Governors’ Climate Resilience Playbook outlines 12 foundational steps to set and achieve an effective state-level climate resilience agenda. This Playbook updates the 2018 U.S. Climate Alliance (USCA) New Governors’ Climate Resilience Playbook based on U.S. Climate Alliance member feedback and seeks to account for changing climate and political developments and conditions and capture some of the momentum around climate resilience action over the past few years. While the 2018 Playbook outlined what states should do to further the climate resilience agenda across states, the 2021 Playbook is focused on how to make it reality.

The importance of this work is underscored by the escalating destruction and costs states are grappling with from natural hazard events exacerbated by climate change. In 2020, 22 weather events across the U.S. – defined and tracked by the federal government as “billion dollar disasters” – caused $95 billion in cumulative damages. These figures shattered the previous annual record of 16 billion dollar disasters in 2011 and 2017. With greenhouse gas emissions baked in for at least the next 30 years, placing an enormous burden on the next generation, choosing not to adapt in the face of such climate impacts is no longer an option. Cities and states must move swiftly to become more resilient and in doing so they can save billions of dollars and make America’s communities more vibrant, healthy and prosperous.

While there is no single definition – or application – of climate resilience, there are five key themes that connect effective climate resilience strategies across geographies. These themes are woven through each of the 12 steps presented in this Playbook.

  1. Grows slowly over time — occasionally accelerated by extreme events — and is an iterative process requiring commitment to metrics that track process, outputs, and community outcomes that support consistent reevaluation and realignment toward a guiding climate resilience vision.
  2. Centers equity in its leadership, processes, and investment strategies, signaling that distribution matters and that leaders, beyond creating resilient bridges and roads, are accountable to people, particularly those disproportionately at risk yet have the fewest resources to adapt.
  3. Is embedded in strong partnerships and relationships between stakeholders at all scales of climate resilience governance.
  4. Breaks down silos, bringing together leaders across sectors and departments and aligning them in the shared pursuit of both climate mitigation and adaptation goals simultaneously.
  5. Is built through innovative funding and finance strategies, grounded in a business case that accounts for and values the diversity of community co-benefits associated with climate resilience progress.

Underlying these themes is an opportunity for states to learn how their peers have approached complex climate resilience challenges and, in particular, what is working and what is not. To facilitate the exchange of “know how,” each step includes succinct case studies showcasing a notable state climate resilience strategy. Led by U.S. Climate Alliance member needs, the playbook also contains appendices that highlight in greater depth opportunities around climate resilience metrics, funding and finance, and navigating federal structures.

States are approaching climate resilience initiatives from various levels of preparedness and bandwidth. This Playbook offers opportunities to jump-start new state climate resilience agendas or elevate existing agendas further to better serve communities.


Gardner, Camilla, Coffee, Joyce and Phillips, Jennifer. October, 2021. “United States Climate Alliance Governors Resilience Playbook,"