consulting services

RFP Guidance

Climate change adaptation or resilience planning is a relatively new field. Hiring a consultant to oversee resilience planning can be very helpful, but because of the nascence of the field, there is significant variation from one consultant to another. Consultants may use different types of data and information, they may have different steps in the process, and they can produce quite a range of planning products. Professional certification in climate adaptation planning is rare, but becoming more common over time, which will help to create more consistency and standards. Because the field is still in flux, it can be difficult to assess whether a consultant will follow generally accepted resilience planning principles.

If you are hiring consulting services and want to secure the tenets of Whole Community Resilience planning, consider including the following in your RFP:

Local Climate Change Projections

austin map avg temp1. Base planning on climate projections

Using the latest models, from a reputable source, create projections using one of three approaches:

  • Scenario planning (creating climate storylines to help planners develop strategies that work across different possible future conditions);
  • Bracketing (looking at 3–4 models that, specific to your region, represent the hotter, less hot, wetter, and drier extremes as well as the middle ground); or
  • Ensembles based on 10 or more models and with consideration/explanation of variation among models (such as the 5th and 95th percentiles) and full range of potential projections.

2. Utilize higher emissions pathways

For climate resilience purposes, using RCP 8.5 (higher emissions) is appropriate at this time, because it is representative of the path the global community is currently on. By planning for higher emissions, the consultant will be less likely to underestimate the impacts (and create a lack of preparedness). It is also useful to have the consultant compare RCP 8.5 to RCP 4.5, as RCP 4.5 represents drastic emissions reductions. This can help people understand the significant value, both in lives and money, in reducing emissions.

3. Assess historic trends, future projections, and extreme events specific to your community

Have your RFP reviewed by trusted scientists and experts familiar with existing stressors, climate change impacts, and natural systems in the planning area. They can help to identify which climate extremes (e.g. heat waves, floods, crop freezes, forest fires, and other events) are most relevant to your community.

4. Require communication materials for laypeople

Climate change projections in a format the public and local leaders can understand are critically important. Oftentimes, projections are provided, but without an explanation of how to use them, how to manage uncertainty, and what they mean at the local level. These materials can also be made available in a dynamic online format that can be widely distributed. (Example:

Vulnerability Assessment

rsz img 26491. Use a science-based process

Many climate resilience projects fail to link the climate projections (as detailed above) to specific and locally-relevant climate change risks to the community. Ensure that the RFP asks for a vulnerability assessment that identifies, categorizes, and prioritizes risks across all sectors of the community based on exposure (assessed using climate change projections), sensitivity, and adaptive capacity.

2. Hold a highly collaborative and cross-sector process

Require that the resilience planning process include one or more workshops that engage local experts from all community sectors to identify and prioritize vulnerabilities. The five community systems to engage across include:

  • built (buildings, roads, bridges, water, energy, etc.)
  • social (health, emergency response, vulnerable populations, etc.)
  • cultural (native American tribes, minority or disadvantaged communities, etc.)
  • economic (tourism, agriculture, forestry, technology, and other economic drivers)
  • natural (aquatic, marine, and terrestrial ecosystems; endangered species)

In addition, be sure and include efforts to address ongoing chronic community challenges, such as poverty, unemployment, flooding, health issues, or pollution in the planning process. Many co-benefits of climate change resilience measures will include solutions to these stressors as well.

Resilience Planning and Implementation

1. Focus on co-benefits and cross-sector collaboration

Work with the contractor to facilitate a cross-sector workshop to collaboratively develop strategies that address key vulnerabilities identified in the Vulnerability Assessment. This workshop should involve both formal and informal leaders of the community, including city staff, business leaders, faith communities, schools, emergency response professionals, public health professionals, tribal leaders, natural resource scientists and managers, NGOs, social equity leaders, climate scientists, and many others. Invitees should relevant local expertise and knowledge to contribute to the process.

2. Require implementation details

  • Prioritization of strategies based on mid- to long-term goals and objectives, local values, protection of vulnerable populations and resources, effectiveness, and viability over time
  • Consideration of impacts to future populations and resources alongside impacts to current residents
  • Implementation steps, timeline, and responsible entities identified, as well as points of integration into existing community governance systems
  • Integration with efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Monitoring and assessment plan to assess progress, incorporate new information, and evaluate outcomes
  • Dynamic framework that revisits goals, objectives, vulnerabilities, and actions over time as new information becomes available (recommend 3-5 years)

Community-wide engagement

acc scott1. Create buy in through engagement

Ask your contractors to build awareness of climate-related risks, challenges and vulnerabilities. Continue to engage with community members so that there is support for implementation.

2. Ensure community input and collective decision-making

It is important to acknowledge that local community members are the experts on a variety of issues. Have the contractor design engagement to solicit information from the community, particularly those who are traditionally underserved, and use this information in the development of resilience strategies. When asking for community engagement, know that it takes time and trust, so adjust your budget and timeline accordingly.


1. Be realistic

Set a realistic timeline (generally at least 12 months) that allows your consultant to create a high quality product and for your community to develop the relationships that are essential for effective community involvement in the process and eventual implementation.

Consulting Services

Helping your community develop local climate change projections, assess your vulnerabilities, and create community resilience strategies.

Do-It-Yourself Resilience

Do-It-Yourself Resilience

Providing Whole Community Resilience to local governments through an assisted “Do-It-Yourself” approach.

Read more

Local Projections

Local Projections

Our climate change scientists can help you understand the likely future conditions specific to your community.

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Vulnerability Assessments

Vulnerability Assessments

Identifying your community's vulnerabilities to extreme and unexpected events.

Read more

Resilience Planning

Resilience Planning

We have developed the ClimateWise program to provide a framework that communities can follow to create Whole Community Solutions in adapting to a changing climate.

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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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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

ClimateWise Local Projections

Do you need help assessing future climate conditions for your community?

While climate change is a global phenomenon, the impacts are locally unique. Our team of can help you understand the likely future climate conditions specific to your community.

Geos Institute technical experts prepare local climate change projections based on the best available climate change science, presented at scales that are appropriate for local decision making. We provide maps, graphs, reports, in person presentations, and dynamic online presentations that are easy to read and understand by anyone in your community.

ex days above 100

Our technical experts collaborate with the nation’s leading climate modelers to bring to you the most useful and up-to-date information for your region. We have the knowledge and relationships to navigate complex model output and data availability that is always changing. This allows you to focus on resilience strategies rather than having to learn to navigate the field of climate science.

The Geos Institute has recently updated its approach to providing local climate projections. Please visit our page on Climate Projections on the Climate Ready Communities site for more information.

ClimateWise Vulnerability Assessments

Do you need help identifying your community's vulnerabilities to extreme and unexpected events?

vuln report cover

Climate change is already affecting our communities through increasingly frequent and severe droughts, floods, extreme storms, sea level rise, and heat waves. And it is expected to worsen over the next few decades, even if we drastically reduce emissions today. While climate change is a global phenomenon, the impacts are local.

In addition to reducing emissions to prevent catastrophic impacts to future generations, we need to prepare communities for severe impacts by building resiliency at the local level.

One of the first steps in creating a resilient community is identifying what resources and populations are most vulnerable to climate change. Water supply, for instance, is often highly vulnerable to climate change in areas that rely on snowpack for water storage, and in areas where precipitation is expected to become less predictable over time. Most communities have existing stressors, such as poverty, unemployment, or pollution that can increase the vulnerability of certain populations and resources. These stressors also need to be considered.

Continue reading about vulnerability assessments

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