There is a transition afoot – a movement to build more resilient communities. Different groups use different terms, such as sustainable, equitable, and thriving, but the premise is the same – we can boost the capacity of our communities to withstand and thrive in the face of a multitude of stressors, including climate change. Resilience is the ability to anticipate risk, reduce the impact, and bounce back after disruption.
Our current decision making structures assume a relatively stationary climate. But as climate changes, these same structures may exacerbate the impacts, rather than reducing them. For example, if each city department or community group responds to the changes without consulting with one another, there will be conflict, redundancy, and wasted resources down the road.
The complex, all-encompassing nature of climate change means that we need a new approach to develop long lasting and collaborative solutions. Whole Community adaptation is a holistic approach to climate change preparedness that addresses impacts across a community in ways that are cost effective and create multiple community benefits. Whole Community resilience can be achieved using a variety of methods as long as the following three primary components are included:
Get people involved. Each community has different groups of people who will be impacted in different ways by changing conditions. Each group, including many non-traditional partners, needs to be engaged in order to explore and address their specific vulnerabilities to climate change and other stressors.
Bring diverse community sectors together to assess vulnerabilities and develop strategies. By developing strategies that work across different sectors, you will create co-benefits, save resources, and create overall community resilience.
Monitor, reassess, and be ready to change course, as needed. Across the country, community leaders are grappling with new challenges. Their innovations play a critically important role in our collective ability to build resilience. Some of those innovations will work and some will not. What is important is that local leaders make smart and transparent decisions, learn from new information, and remain flexible.
By taking a Whole Community approach, communities can develop strategies that reflect local values and address changing conditions while:
To learn more about Whole Community adaptation,read our recently published paper on the topic. Feel free to contact us for a reprint if you would like the full article.
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