Planning and Investing for a Resilient California - A Guidebook for State Agencies

The California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) developed this guidance document to support state agency planning and investment in the context of climate change - as directed by Executive Order B-30-15. The report guides agencies through a risk management process to determine how to integrate climate considerations into planning or investment decisions. The guidance offers an introduction to climate risks and how to start incorporating them; some common analytical practices; and principles to guide decision making around climate adaptation, community resilience, and social equity. 

OPR’s guidance outlines the steps that should be integrated into standard practices, including but not limited to: Infrastructure design and feasibility studies, Permitting processes, Economic analysis, and Environmental review processes under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) or the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).

A Process for State Agencies is outlined to guide agencies through a 4-step risk management process to determine how to integrate climate considerations into planning or investment decisions. These four steps are:

    1. Identify how climate change could affect a project or plan
    2. Conduct an analysis of climate risks
    3. Make a climate-informed decision
    4. Track and monitor progress

The third step, to “Make a climate-informed decision” includes guidelines on how to build climate risk preparedness and mitigation principles into planning and investment decisions. The following 5 Principles are detailed:

  • Principle 1: Prioritize integrated climate actions
  • Principle 2: Prioritize actions that promote equity and foster community resilience
  • Principle 3: Coordinate with local and regional agencies
  • Principle 4: Prioritize actions that utilize natural and green infrastructure solutions and enhance and protect natural resources
  • Principle 5: Base all planning and investment decisions on the best-available science

Case Studies are provided describing California agencies that are already integrating climate change into planning and investment. A few examples as further detailed in the report include the 2013 California Water Plan, CA High Speed Rail Authority, and the Strategic Growth Council Grant Guidelines for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) grant program. 

The Climate-Informed Infrastructure Investment section of the report describes the prioritization of natural infrastructure, employing a full life-cycle cost accounting for infrastructure, prioritizing investments in infrastructure with integrated climate benefits, and integrating climate change resilience decision making in investments. 

Prioritize Natural Infrastructure: For all infrastructure projects, agencies are directed to evaluate if there is an opportunity to utilize natural infrastructure – either to fully accomplish the desired project goal, or as a component of the project.

Employ Full Life-Cycle Cost Accounting: California Executive Order B-30-15 directs State agencies to use full life-cycle cost accounting for all infrastructure projects. Life-cycle cost accounting integrates all costs arising from owning, operating, maintaining, and ultimately disposing of a project.

Prioritize Infrastructure with Integrated Climate BenefitsThe following criteria is described for prioritizing and selecting infrastructure projects:

  • Select options that are consistent with overall project objectives, while minimizing net GHG emissions and capitalizing on opportunities to increase carbon sequestration in the natural and built environments,
  • Demonstrate a preference for flexible and adaptive solutions that will allow for adjustment as the climate changes and/or surprises emerge, and
  • Maximize benefits conferred to vulnerable communities and individuals, and are consistent with overall project objectives.

Integrate Resilient Decision Making Principles and Infrastructure Investment: State agencies take the following steps when making investments in State-owned infrastructure: study phase, design phase, construction, and maintenance and operation. A table is provided that outlines how climate change should be integrated into each of these phases.


Publication Date: November 15, 2017

Related Organizations:

  • California Office of Planning and Research

Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Planning guides

States Affected:

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