A Resilient Future for Coastal Communities: Federal Policy Recommendations from Solutions in Practice

The Energy and Environmental Study Institute’s (EESI) October 2020 report contains 30 actionable recommendations, guided by 6 principles, on how the federal government can better support coastal resilience. The report emphasizes throughout the importance of consultation with local communities in designing programs and policies related to adaptation and resilience to ensure their specific needs are met. It also describes how the policy recommendations can be implemented, including identifying Congressional Committees with relevant jurisdiction. While produced with coastal areas in mind, the recommendations are also applicable to inland areas facing flooding risks.

The 30 policy recommendations fall in six categories:

  1. Community at the Forefront
  2. Land Use and Development
  3. Cultural Heritage
  4. Climate Adaptation and Resilience Data
  5. Disaster Preparedness
  6. Financing Adaptation and Resilience

Six principles guide the recommendations:

  1. Federal policies need to be based on future climate, not past climate conditions.
  2. Climate justice and equity must be fully embedded in policies and programs.
  3. The federal government should take the lead in connecting science with practice and in working with states, local governments, and tribes.
  4. Intra- and inter-agency coordination in the federal government should help states, local governments, and tribes access federal resources.
  5. Federal investments should support creation of local jobs and a workforce trained in adaptation and resilience.
  6. Climate adaptation and resilience should support decarbonization and a clean energy economy.

For each policy recommendation, the report categorizes the investment (e,g., capacity building; federal investment; research, development and deployment; technical assistance, etc.), analyzes whether the policy can be implemented under existing federal offices or requires new or amended federal authority, identifies Congressional Committees with relevant jurisdiction, and finally, gives local examples of implementation of the policy.

One of the guiding principles in the EESI report is that climate equity and justice must be fully embedded in all resilience policies and programs. The report states that the federal government should ensure that communities that typically have not had a voice in decisions, such as BIPoC, frontline, and low-income communities, must now have a clear role in shaping adaptation and resilience policies from development through implementation.

At the end of the report, Table 1 categorizes each policy recommendation based on the type of investment needed (as noted above). Table 2 categorizes the recommendations by federal policy lever: amending an existing agency; office or program authorization; finding appropriate funding; commissioning a report; creating a new agency, office, or program; or establishing inter- or intra-agency coordination.

Appendix A lists existing federal department and agency programs and funding sources that can be used to support climate adaptation and resilience. Appendix B describes the methods used in collecting information and writing the report. Appendix C presents a selected list of regional climate impacts reports, regional adaptation plans, tools, resources, and database/data viewers, and relevant organizations, and partnerships. It also lists a few relevant academic papers.

The EESI report was developed based on 16 Congressional briefings on resilience that were held between June 2019 and June 2020. The briefings included participation by 42 coastal resilience experts from Alaska, the Caribbean, Great Lakes, Gulf Coast, Northeast, Southeast, and West Coast.

Publication Date: October 2020

Related Organizations:

  • Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI)

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Resource Types:

  • Policy analysis/recommendations

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