Building a Community of Practice at the Intersection of Water, Climate Resilience and Equity

From The Kresge Foundation and American Rivers, this report presents the findings of an assessment conducted by the Meridian Institute on Kresge's Climate Resilient and Equitable Water Systems (CREWS) initiative. This report describes the challenges and opportunities for practitioners working at the intersection of water systems, climate resilience and social equity. 

Climate change is projected to produce more frequent extreme rainfall events across the U.S. Vulnerable populations, such as low-income communities and communities of color, are found to experience disproportionate effects of these events, especially due to urban flooding. The report highlights opportunities to strengthen and integrate the fields of water management, climate resilience, and vulnerable communities. These strategic methods are described with references to current CREWS grantees who are already doing relevant work, that could be learned from and leveraged to advance progress toward socially equitable urban flooding solutions. Focal strategies include:

  • Connecting People at All Scales to the Issues
  • Raising Awareness of and Gaining Buy-In to Solutions
  • Building Trust and Forging Strong Alliances with Affected Communities
  • Building Local Capacity
  • Increasing the Emphasis on Climate Resilience

Here are some of the examples highlighted in the report of these approaches from organizations within the CREWS initiative:

  • American Rivers supports the work of the Atlanta Watershed Learning Network to train residents of marginalized communities affected by flooding and combined sewer overflows to engage in water decision making and advocacy.
  • Earth Economics provides economic expertise in ecosystem valuation and cost-benefit analysis. They have supported local partners in obtaining federal funding for post-disaster green infrastructure investments and are helping expand financing for GI by working to have it considered an “asset” in government accounting systems.
  • Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange is a practitioner network that seeks to accelerate implementation of green stormwater infrastructure in communities across North America through peer learning, innovation, partnerships, and advocacy. The network is finalizing a guide for practitioners on how to enhance public-health outcomes of green stormwater infrastructure.
  • GreenLatinos is engaging an existing national network of Latino environmental and conservation advocates to address national and local water issues that significantly affect the health and welfare of the Latino community.
  • National Wildlife Federation coordinates the Clean Water for All Coalition, an effort to provide clean and safe water for all communities. Key activities of the coalition include advocacy on federal policy to protect water and public health; advocacy on agricultural runoff policy; and attempts to bring additional voices into the coalition.


Publication Date: July 31, 2018

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  • Best practice
  • Progress report


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