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Author: Jessica Leonard

American Society of Adaptation Professionals Response to RFI on Climate Policies

Geos Institute led a working group with the American Society of Adaptation Professionals to develop official comments to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. The Committee asked for suggestions for actions it can take now and in the future to move federal climate policy forward. We developed a set of overarching and cross-cutting themes, outlined below. More detailed policy responses can be found in the official comments.

Mainstream climate. Evaluate all federal projects and policies through a climate lens that includes social equity and ecological integrity. ○ Integrate climate considerations into existing agencies and policies to the greatest extent possible. Reform and fill gaps where necessary.

  • Prioritize accessible tools for users on the ground within existing programs.
  • Coordinate adaptation, mitigation, and multi-hazard interactions to maximize the co-benefits of climate planning.

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Assessing Disaster Vulnerability along the Mississippi River Corridor: A Roundtable with Mississippi River Mayors and the Insurance Industry

MRCTI meetingOur ClimateWise team recently worked with the United Nations Environment Program North America and the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative to coordinate a roundtable discussion between mayors along the river and the insurance industry.

This meeting took place between 23 Mississippi River mayors and leaders from the global and North American insurance industry. Other key stakeholders from federal agencies, foundations, and resilience organizations joined with them to discuss how to reduce vulnerability and build resilience to natural disasters within the Mississippi River corridor.

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FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program – a potential resource for cross-boundary climate resilience projects

FEMA regionsThe federal government’s budget for fiscal year 2018 includes $246 million for the Pre-Disaster Mitigation program at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – up from $100 million in 2017. Funding through this program can be used for many different planning and implementation activities, including building climate resilience in communities faced with high risk from changing climate conditions.

Each year FEMA gets funding earmarked by Congress for specific tasks related to emergency management. That money is then distributed to states, tribes, and territories through grant and emergency aid programs, including the Pre-Disaster Mitigation program.

FEMA generally operates on a state by state basis and has since the agency was created by Congress. However, in 2016, we worked with the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative to propose to FEMA that they create an option that would allow states to work together across state boundaries. Our goal was to create the opportunity for the ten states in the Mississippi River corridor to work together to build climate resilience along the entire length of the river.

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Climate Ready Communities program launches to help small to mid-sized communities build climate resilience!

CRC Guide coverMany local governments, especially in smaller towns and rural areas, face difficult climate resilience challenges with few financial resources or help from state or federal government. Climate resilience planning can be intimidating and overwhelming.

To help these communities, we spent the last 20 months developing our new Climate Ready Communities program to get high quality, affordable help into the hands of local governments and community associations that are working to build climate resilience.

The Climate Ready Communities program includes a free, downloadable, Practical Guide to Climate Resilience Planning. This Guide is based on our 10 years of experience helping communities understand and adapt to changing climate conditions, and the proven framework – Whole Community Resilience – that our team developed during this time.

This framework uses a cross-sector, multi-stakeholder approach that is adaptive over time and creates multiple benefits across the community. Using this framework, communities develop strategies that are ecologically sound and socially equitable while building local capacity to adapt as conditions continue to change.

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Native Village of Georgetown Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment



The Native village of Georgetown is located on the Kuskokwim River, in the Kilbuck-Kuskokwim Mountains, at its convergence with the George River. Georgetown Tribal Council (GTC) is the governing body for the federally recognized tribe of the Native Village of Georgetown, Alaska. While most members of the tribe do not currently live in Georgetown, there are plans for former Georgetown residents and their descendants to move back home. Currently, most of the 120 members still live in the area primarily in Bethel and other nearby Kuskokwim River villages.

The Geos Institute worked with the Georgetown Tribal Council to conduct a climate change vulnerability assessment for the native village site and surrounding area. We combined the best available data and model projections with Traditional Knowledge collected from tribal elders. This combination of traditional knowledge and modern science made for a powerful story about ongoing change across the Middle Kuskokwim region.

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Climate Ready Communities

Does your community need to build climate resilience? Are you having a hard time figuring out where to start? We can help.

CRC illustrationAs the intensity and frequency of hurricanes, floods, droughts, wildfires, heat waves, and other climate-driven disturbances increase, local leaders around the country are realizing they need to build resilience to protect their communities. But many community leaders do not know where to start and they do not have funding to hire a high-priced consultant.

Sound familiar? If so, Climate Ready Communities can help you address this challenge.

Download the program flyer.

About the Program

Building on its experience helping communities develop climate resilience plans over the last 10 years through its ClimateWise® consulting services, the Geos Institute has launched the Climate Ready Communities program. This program enables small-medium sized communities to create climate resilience plans using an assisted “Do-It-Yourself” approach. The program consists of:

  1. The Practical Guide for Building Climate Resilience available to download for no cost
  2. The Climate Ready Communities Support Package for assistance when using the Guide
  3. Other Services to supplement the Guide and the Support Package as needed

The core element of the Climate Ready Communities program is the comprehensive Practical Guide to Building Climate Resilience. This Guide is structured as a task by task, step by step framework that includes many on-the-ground ideas and free resources for implementing each task. This framework is based on the Whole Community Resilience approach that the ClimateWise team has developed over its years of experience helping communities.

Reviewing the Guide is how most communities will start to evaluate the program.

Go here to learn more about the Guide and to request a download.

For communities that seek assistance using the Guide and access to the experts who wrote the Guide, the Climate Ready Communities program offers a Support Package at $500 for a two year subscription. Go here for more information on the Support Package.

Other Services may be used to supplement the Guide and Annual Support or may be used independently.

  • Blocks of additional consulting time
  • Local climate change projections
  • On-site facilitation, with optional documentation of workshop results
  • Webinars on climate and resilience-related topics
  • Final report writing

Go here for more information on Other Services.

About Us

Our goal is to ensure that communities of all sizes in the US and Canada have effective climate resilience programs in place to protect their people, natural resources, economy, infrastructure, and culture. Over the past 10 years of helping communities understand and adapt to changing climate conditions, our team has developed a proven planning framework known as Whole Community Resilience – a cross-sector, multi-stakeholder approach that is adaptive over time and creates multiple benefits across the community. The framework aims to not only develop a plan, but also to strengthen local adaptive capacity, which ensures that communities have the skills necessary to implement and update their climate resilience plans over time.

This framework has been tested in Oregon, California, Colorado, and Montana and is now being offered to communities across North America through the Climate Ready Communities program.

For questions about the Climate Ready Communities program,
contact us by email at
Or call Geoff Weaver at 541-482-4459 x305, or 503-781-7888.



“Climate Ready Communities has given the City of Warren the means and resources necessary to begin meaningful dialogues about climate change, mitigation, and adaptation in a way that leads to community-driven actions that can be implemented by way of local and county governments through actions organized by steering committees.”

City of Warren, MN

“We were excited to participate in the beta review of the Climate Ready Communities program, given the great experience we had working with the Geos Institute on our initial climate resilience planning several years ago. We had a team from my non-profit organization, the city, and the county conduct the review, and we believe their comprehensive approach shows that they really understand what it is like to do this work in the real world. The templates and tutorials in their subscription service make their 7 Step climate resilience framework accessible for local government and partners. We plan to use the Climate Ready Communities framework and subscription service to help with a climate resilience plan for Missoula County. We’re excited about the public launch of this program – the more climate resilient communities the better!”

Amy Cilimburg, Executive Director, Climate Smart Missoula

Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Strategy Development for Tillamook Estuaries Partnership

tep table1

Final Report:

Report Appendices

The Geos Institute worked closely with the Tillamook Estuaries Partnership (TEP) and local stakeholders to develop a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and a Preparedness Strategy for the Tillamook estuaries and their watersheds. The five estuaries of Tillamook County and their watersheds are home to ecologically important species and resources that also support the local economy, provide recreational opportunities, and bring natural beauty and overall well-being for people throughout the region. TEP plays an important role in the restoration and management of natural resources throughout the county, especially by working with partners, land-owners, and other stakeholders throughout the region.

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Christina Mills, Operations & Program Manager

ChristinaMills 2016 cropChristina is an experienced nonprofit professional and provides key project management and administrative support to the ClimateWise team. She is also experienced in communication and outreach, graphic design, and website development. Christina was previously the Project Scientist at the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research providing technical analysis to support advocacy of carbon-free and nuclear-free energy systems, in particular for Minnesota and Maryland. Publications include “Renewable Minnesota“, “Energy Efficient and Pollution-Free Space Heating and Cooling in Maryland“, and “Energy Justice in Maryland’s Residential and Renewable Energy Sectors“. She also worked as a Policy Analyst for Windustry, an organization that promotes community-based wind energy across the country.

Christina holds a J.D. from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, MN and a B.A. in Biology from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN.


ClimateWise Staff

We are a team of scientists, facilitators, and process innovators who believe that the global climate crisis will push humanity to make a collective decision – move toward greater cohesion and peace or widespread violence and conflict.

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