4. Capacity Building

Capacity building measures, including increased public education and engagement, investment in the  workforce, and technical and financial assistance are needed to improve climate resilience in vulnerable communities. Public awareness campaigns may increase buy-in and political and social capital to support climate-informed decision-making, while investing in building the capacity of community leaders can create local champions to implement resilient measures. More meaningful community engagement in planning will likely elevate issues of equity and climate justice in decision-making, and may create more social cohesion for community members to remain connected during extreme events. Engaging with the community in planning is viewed as very or moderately important by 97% of respondents (Figure 21). Finally, financial and technicalFigure 21. assistance for individuals and communities to adequately prepare for, respond to, and recover from extreme events is needed to enable truly climate-resilient communities.

    “Assistance to businesses, municipalities, and homeowners in accessing incentives and technical support for installing solar; support for developing community solar projects; summits and workshops to inform municipal and business leaders on opportunities and technical access for clean energy implementation.”

    “Giving information and educating the populace will make people more determined to counteract climate change.”

    “Creation of a Rainy Day fund, like those created to mitigate urban flooding, could help households who don’t otherwise meet income restrictions for rehab and other assistance.”

    “By implementing anti-displacement activities which preserve communities (e.g., people, institutions) they remain connected in times of disaster (i.e. extreme weather events). Not only will people be willing and able to help each other, the infrastructure—government services—will be able to respond and restore services to residents.”

    “As an organization that strongly believes that most impacted communities know how to best address their housing needs, investments in leadership development for communities to learn the information they do not know and to discuss them in partnership with experts would be the best move. We firmly believe that a rising tide lifts all boats and when we legislate for the most-impacted we ensure that everyone is protected and positively impacted. Then communities can discuss what they need to do to increase community resiliency to climate change in their own communities. It is critical that legislative bodies back them up by listening to their recommendations or demands and doing what is necessary to make them happen.”

     

    Case Studies Examples

    • The “Be A Buddy” outreach campaign in New York City, created by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, encourages community members to check on vulnerable neighbors, particularly during extreme weather events.8
       
    • The town of Kinston, North Carolina, has been subjected to intense flooding from major hurricanes in the last three decades, damaging or destroying hundreds of homes and causing polluted runoff from the local wastewater treatment plant. FEMA and the state bought out repetitively flooded properties in the 100-year floodplain and the land is now maintained as open space. However, a major challenge emerged for residents seeking to participate in the buyout program as homes outside of the floodplain were typically more expensive. The state created the State Acquisition Relocation Fund, which covered the difference in cost between a new home and the buyout cost, and helped renters relocate from flooded properties. Ninety-seven percent of residents offered a buyout accepted the offer and 90% of them then relocated within Kinston. The success of the buyout program have been mixed as some of the relocated residents could not afford the added costs—insurance, maintenance, taxes—of living in newer, more affluent neighborhoods in Kinston, and had to either default on mortgages or sell their property.18
       
    • The Puyallup Tribe of Indians prioritized heat waves, changes in air quality, and food-borne illnesses in its climate adaptation plan.19 A core priority emerging from this planning effort was ensuring that services provided by critical medical and emergency facilities are consistently available to at-risk populations.
       
    • The Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII) partnered with local health departments to address public health and displacement concerns stemming from the 2017 wildfires in Sonoma and Napa counties. BARHII helped to develop a resilience and recovery framework for Sonoma County to help address the environmental, economic, and social effects of such disasters.
       
    • The Transformative Climate Communities program enables the state of California to make significant, targeted local investments. The program provides planning and implementation grants to local communities out of the California Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, and is administered by the California Strategic Growth Council.
       
    • The Atlanta CREW (Culture-Resilience-Environment-Workforce) project trains community members in green infrastructure construction and maintenance. This community-focused project promotes seeks to benefit communities through workforce development training in green infrastructure implementation, as well as improved health of the local watershed and neighborhood aesthetic improvements.