Catalyzing Cross-sectoral Adaptation

Catalyzing Cross-sectoral Adaptation

Alex Score
Time Slot: 
Concurrent Sessions 8
Session Type: 
Tools and Posters

This session will frame the need for cross sectoral adaptation and share case studies of collaborative approaches to adaptation planning in New York, Boston, Anchorage and Baja California. Presentations will cover engaging diverse stakeholders, cost-benefit analysis and evaluating adaptation. They will also share resources for designing resilient capital projects and methods for private sector stakeholders to understand their own climate risks through the lens of communities’ adaptive capacity.


NYC- Climate Adaptation Tools for the Built Environment
Mathew Mampara, Dewberry
  • Susanne DesRoches, NYC Office Recovery and Resiliency
  • Alan Cohn, NYC Environmental Protection
  • Peter Adams, NYC Office Recovery and Resiliency
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For over a decade, NYC has engaged in climate change planning processes to address a wide range of risks that the city faces. This presentation will share processes and tools NYC has developed to integrate climate adaptation into municipal decision-making, including: the NYC Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, the NYC Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines, and the Climate Risk Assessment tool.
As part of the development of tools like the Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines, NYC has undertaken rigorous application testing, evaluating how best to guide the design professional community to account for the impact of climate loads such as future storm surge heights, precipitation depths, and increased 90 degree days, across varied project types, geographies, and asset life spans. Examples of the design alternatives and the benefit cost analyses methodology developed to compare those alternatives will be provided as well.

Taken together, these efforts represent an important step forward in meeting the challenges facing the built environment and the levels of service it is designed to provide. Through the implementation of these tools, the City’s capital investments will be designed using the best available forward-looking data to increase the resilience of our built environment to a climate that is no longer stationary.

Climate Ready Boston?: Identifying indicators to evaluate Boston's climate adaptation initiatives
Kara Runsten, Kim Lundgren Associates, Inc.
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As a leader in municipal climate change adaptation, the City of Boston has recently updated its climate projections, completed a climate vulnerability assessment, and identified several resilience initiatives. In this presentation, I will present findings from my Master’s thesis, conducted in partnership with the City, where I developed a set of indicators Boston can use to start monitoring and evaluating its adaptation efforts to understand whether they are leading to a less vulnerable, more resilient city.

With an eye toward applicability to other cities, I will walk through the process for creating these indicators. This process included analyzing Boston’s vulnerability assessment and resilience plans to comprehend the types of hazards, risks, and actions the City intends to emphasize and interviewing the authors of six recently published indicator frameworks for urban resilience developed by other cities, federal agencies, and nongovernmental groups. I will not only share the 20 indicators that I developed for Boston, but I will also focus on my major findings for other cities to consider when creating, publishing, and maintaining their own set of indicators.

In addition to helping city governments monitor their efforts, the indicators developed through such a process can be used by citizens to hold elected and appointed officials accountable to their resilience promises. By taking action now, Boston and other cities can position themselves to be among the first (in the U.S. and internationally) to publish monitoring and evaluation frameworks to track success in this arena.

Climate Adaptation in Baja, California
Serge Dedina, WILDCOAST
  • Paloma Aguirre, WILDCOAST
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Adaptation solutions are best when they are holistic and balance with effective mitigation efforts. Adaptation in Southern California and Northern Baja Mexico provides a great example of the complexities of holistic adaptation, as well as an argument for why is is necessary. The border region is affected by increasing temperatures, sea level rise, changing storm intensity, altered precipitation patterns and ocean acidification, on top of the challenges of pollutions (water, air and solid waste) under the confounding limitations of international policy.

The impacts of climate change and climate-impacted non-climate stressors (such as pollution) exacerbate each other along the Mexico-U.S. border where there is little accountability and even fewer mechanisms to address transborder impacts. Yet there is interest by groups on both sides of the border to implement resilience strategies.

One community, Imperial Beach, CA, has identified several of its major vulnerabilities, including a sewage system in need of updating to withstand sea level rise, water quality complications due to northward flow of pollution across the border, and a pattern of beach closures that is undermining its economic potential. Knowing it’s vulnerabilities has forced Imperial Beach to recognize that as a working-class coastal community they do not have the tax base to address their challenges and caused them take on suing major fossil fuel companies to recoup the funds they need.

Development of an Anchorage Climate Action Plan through a Municipality-University of Alaska collaboration
Micah Hahn, University of Alaska
  • Shaina Kilcoyne, Municipality of Anchorage
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Over the past 60 years, Alaska has warmed more than twice as fast as the rest of the U.S. In Anchorage, the nation’s gateway to the Arctic, this warming trend is projected to lead to a number of ecological changes, many of which are already being observed. We are experiencing freeze-thaw cycles that degrade roads and communication networks and create dangerous winter travel conditions. Increased wildfire risk and insect infestations threaten forests and homes. Changing river hydrology and ocean chemistry has made salmon returns unpredictable, affecting a staple food resource for Alaskans and a major economic driver in the state. As the largest population center and commercial hub of the state, changes to Anchorage’s natural systems will affect supply chains and infrastructure and have a ripple effect throughout Alaska.

We will discuss the development of the Anchorage Climate Action Plan, and the role of the University of Alaska in this community-campus initiative. Through this partnership, we leveraged limited resources to catalyze an initiative that had been stalled for over a decade. A core value of our process has been equitable sharing of costs and benefits of climate change impacts and solutions through broad engagement with community members during plan development. We will share our challenges and successes and explain how the movement grew from student internships to a larger community dialogue, fueled by a few key partners and a favorable political window. We will invite discussion among session participants to share their experiences in early-stage climate resilience planning.

Assessing Local Adaptive Capacity to Understand Corporate and Financial Climate Risks
Natalie Ambrosio, Four Twenty Seven
  • Yoon Kim, Four Twenty Seven
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Cities and counties face clear risks from extreme weather events and prolonged stresses driven by climate change. Understanding a municipality's ability to build resilience to these hazards is essential for investors striving to understand their assets’ true risk to climate change and for corporations who depend on the surrounding infrastructure and community in which they exist. Corporations may find themselves to be islands of resilience that, despite having internal systems in place to respond to climate events, still experience operation disruptions if damaged or destroyed regional infrastructure prevent employees from coming to work. By understanding characteristics of adaptive capacity, investors and businesses can play important roles in helping municipalities build resilience, while also mitigating impacts on their communities and assets. Likewise, when local governments understand how the private sector is assessing risk and resilience they are better positioned to build strategic partnerships and attract resilience financing.

This presentation shares a framework for capturing a city’s adaptive capacity through the lens of businesses and investors, helping cities to understand how the private sector views community resilience. It is informed by social sciences research, recent work by credit rating agencies, and experience working directly with cities and investors. The framework focuses on three main pillars: 1) awareness, 2) economic and financial characteristics, and 3) the quality of adaptation planning and implementation. This framework enables qualitative assessments that capture the nuances of a specific city, while ensuring a level of consistency and comparability.