Community-Driven Climate Resilience Planning: A Framework (2017)

This report outlines a framework, informed by community-based organizations from across the country, to meaningfully engage vulnerable and impacted communities in defining and building climate resilience. The guide seeks to use climate resilience activities to better build momentum for change, build a new economy and community-based financing, deepen democracy and improve governance, and activate ecological and cultural wisdom. In addition to describing guiding principles and elements of community-driven planning, the document provides examples of case studies where communities have taken a central role in resilience planning. The guide is primarily aimed at other community-based organizations, but it may also be useful for philanthropy and public sector officials.

Assess if your methodology for community engagement incorporates the core components of a community-driven process.

Community-driven climate resilience planning is defined as the process by which “residents of vulnerable and impacted communities define for themselves the complex climate challenges they face, and the climate solutions most relevant to their unique assets and threats.” The underlying premise for community-driven planning is simple: the more residents that participate in their own community solutions, the more effective those solutions will be. However, putting this into practice can be challenging as most cities do not have the capacity to engage a wide range of residents, nor the trust of disenfranchised residents that need to be part of the process. The report argues that this will require fundamental shifts in governance.

The guide outlines several guiding principles including:

  • Apply whole systems thinking: Since the problems (racism and social injustice, climate change, economic inequality, broken democracy) are interrelated, the solutions (cooperation, regeneration, democracy, inclusion) must equally be multi-faceted.
  • Take a learning approach to planning processes to shift dominate narratives towards equity and resiliency: this involves building the capacity of residents to participate in conversations involving climate science and allowing resident leaders to educate decisionmakers about their needs.
  • Actively create pathways for implementation: integrate implementation into the planning process and create financing models and mechanisms to build community wealth to support implementation.

The plan also outlines the essential components of community-driven resilience planning.  This includes:

  • Co-developing the planning approach and model;
  • Power building by forging new alliances and increasing the capacity of community-based organizations to take leadership;
  • Visioning to create a guiding light for the planning and policy process;
  • Defining the problem;
  • Assessing community vulnerability and assets;
  • Developing solutions that transform existing systems and build new climate resilience civic and economic infrastructure; and
  • Interventions to keep public planning processes “on track.”

Case studies in the guide describe resilience efforts in New York City and Buffalo, NY; Richmond, CA; San Francisco, CA; Minneapolis, MN; and the Gulf Coast.


Publication Date: May 2017

Author or Affiliated User:

  • Rosa González

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Resource Types:

  • Case study
  • Planning guides

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User Comments:

  • September 11, 2017
    David Moskowitz, Student at Georgetown Law University

    This resource is aimed primarily at community organizations, and most of the recommendations and sources it provides are for such groups. However, it's still extremely useful for local governments and policymakers who are figuring out how to empower communities in the planning process, or in jurisdictions where there are existing groups that the policymaker would like to involve.