Navigating Current Adaptation Challenges

Navigating Current Adaptation Challenges

Alex Score
Time Slot: 
Luncheon Sessions Day 2
Session Type: 
Tools and Posters

Regardless of the system, scale, or region you working, the path to the taking climate adaptation action is often rife with challenges. This session seeks to identify and offer solutions to current adaptation challenges at multiple scales. Learn about: (1) efforts to safeguard vulnerable federal tools and resources, (2) the ways environmentally focused organizations can enhance civic engagement, and (3) practitioner's perspectives on successful resilience.


Safeguarding Climate Adaptation Resources & Tools in a Shifting Political Climate
Jessica Hitt, EcoAdapt
  • Tera Johnson, EcoAdapt
  • Lara Hansen, EcoAdapt
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The field of climate adaptation in the United States is under threat from the actions of the current federal administration. Federal climate programs are being defunded, regulations dismantled, and critical climate resources and tools are being removed, altered, or obfuscated. We set the goal of ensuring the public (including decision makers, managers, planner, community member, business people, etc.) who rely on these vital federal climate adaptation resources and guidance have continued to have access despite these detrimental actions. To protect the public's access to these resources, in November 2016 we developed and began implementing a multi-phased plan to ensure their use could continue to support efforts to build community and natural system resilience to climate change. The Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE) was in unique position to take on this task as we manage the largest adaptation database in the United States, housing over 2,000 expert vetted climate-informed case studies, resources and tools. This effort began with acquisition of those resources we either suspected were vulnerable based on agencies that faced early scrutiny by the in-coming administration or knew to be very valuable to the user community. While other groups focused on basic climate data rescue, we focused on adaptation resources including reports, guidance, tools and records of projects and case studies. This presentation will present the threat our federal resources face, the actions taken by the project team to safeguard these resources, and showcase the landing page for federal resources on CAKE.

Climate + Energy Voters Take Action: Integrated Voter Engagement and Relational Organizing
Rachel Myslivy, Climate + Energy Project
  • Dorothy Barnett, Climate + Energy Project
  • Sarah Dehart Faltico, Climate + Energy Project
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Environmental sustainability and adaptation work relies on a political landscape supportive of climate resilience policies, yet millions of registered voters that list climate change or other environmental issues as their top voting priorities fail to cast ballots in elections at every level. Furthermore, civic engagement efforts by environmentally-focused organizations often rally around a specific issue or call to action - once the election passes, organizations then return to their core work until the next issue arises. The resulting pattern enables communities to look to environmental organizations for political information and momentum rather than elevating their own demands into the legislative arena. This call and response rhythm creates an additional service burden on environmental organizations and reinforces individuals to demand environmental legislative action only when an organization amplifies the call.

In Spring 2018, Climate + Energy Voters Take Action launched with aims to increase civic participation via relational organizing at the individual and organizational level. Asking active supporters of climate resilience to engage their peers could facilitate civic engagement among potential voters with aligned environmental values. During a time of vocal climate deniers, this strategy allows Climate + Energy Project to focus on changing a behavior, not a belief.

By April 2019, Climate + Energy Voters Take Action will finish the first of its three year term, which included a midterm election. Climate + Energy Project will share strategies, successes and challenges of this kind of relational organizing as a tool for sustained engagement around climate resiliency.

Practitioner's Perspectives on Successful Resilience
Missy Stults, City of Ann Arbor
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You’ve heard the adage, “you can’t effectively manage what you don’t measure.” The essence is that it’s incredibly challenging to know if something is getting better or worse if you don’t measure it or the indicators associated with it. But what does that mean for the field of adaptation?

Whether we like it or not, a growing number of philanthropic, academic, and federal organizations are creating metrics around what successful resilience looks like. What is largely missing from these frameworks and ideas, however, is the view of practitioners.

To remedy this, we went to nearly all of the Regional Adaptation Forums and asked practitioners three simple questions:
1. What three words come to mind when you hear the term “climate adaptation”
2. What are the three words that come to mind when you think about a resilient community
3. What are the two most important actions you think should be taken to make your region more resilient

This presentation will share the findings from these surveys, focusing on: a) what similarities exist across the nation and b) what regional differences emerged. We’ll follow this presentation with an interactive audience discussion about what might be missing from these responses, what the responses say about the state of the field, and how we can ensure that the views of practitioners are being fully integrated into emerging “successful resilience” frameworks.