City of Boulder, Colorado Resilience Strategy

The City of Boulder Resilience Strategy provides an overview of Boulder, Colorado’s resiliency accomplishments, as well as outlines current and future resiliency projects and goals. Development of this plan was supported by the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative.

This report first identifies the climate change challenges that Boulder faces. Due to Boulder’s diverse topography and climate variability, the city is exposed to a number of risks. Boulder is susceptible to forest fires, droughts, and floods, and these natural hazards are expected to only intensify under climate change.  These natural hazards are closely interlinked, and can bring about increased damages. Major drought can lead to prolonged forest fire events, which can exacerbate the effects of subsequent floods. The report also acknowledges that these natural hazards are particularly burdensome on lower-income people. Therefore, social stresses caused by climate change are also listed as one of Boulder’s core resilience challenges.

The report provides information regarding Boulder’s resiliency efforts on a regional level. BoCo Strong is a countywide resilience initiative that fosters collaboration between communities, nonprofits, governments, and businesses across Boulder County. Boulder is also involved in the Colorado Resilience Framework. Created in May 2015, this first-of-its-kind statewide program provides guidance for communities adapting to climate change, and action steps that the state pledges to adopt.


Boulder attempts to address social issues through its climate resilience efforts. For example, through the Knight Cities Challenge grant, Boulder developed a program to employ homeless people to become woodworkers, turning trees impacted by the Emerald Ash Borer into products.

Additionally, Boulder is deploying a "Mobile Resilience Lab," which is an interactive space for resilience-based community programming that can visit people where they are, instead of asking residents to come to city meetings. They are also working to better prepare local businesses to respond to disasters and supporting artists who take on the topic of risk and resilience.


Chapter 3 presents Boulder’s City Resilience Framework (CRF) . A result of Boulder’s 2014 resilience assessment, the CRF is comprised of four elements of urban resilience: Leadership and Strategy, Health and Wellbeing, Economy and Society, Infrastructure and Environment. Each element contains three “drivers” which represent actions that the city can adopt to strengthen resilience.

The report also includes a timeline detailing Boulder’s resilience accomplishments spanning from 2010 to 2016.  Achievements include: energy efficiency programs, farmers markets, climate workshops, regional collaboration events, and publication dates of climate adaptation literature.

Chapter 4 presents Boulder's resiliency strategies, which is organized into three topics.

  • Connect and Prepare: Boulder aims to promote community preparedness through education, economic assessment, local business engagement, and artistic expression.
  • Partner and Innovate: Boulder also strives to capitalize on collective problem solving and community creativity. By making climate data easily accessible to the public and arriving at solutions through crowdsourcing, Boulder communities are directly involved in climate adaptation action.
  • Transform and Integrate: Boulder targets the resiliency of city operations. Strengthening life-safety services such as energy, water, and sanitation utilities, as well as training department leaders to make decisions in the face of a changing climate are of priority.

Within each topic, Boulder identifies specific resilience actions, and if applicable, identifies which city agency has already made progress in that category. 



Publication Date: April 2016

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Resource Types:

  • Plans (other)

States Affected:


  • Air temperature
  • Drought
  • Flooding
  • Invasive species and pests
  • Precipitation changes

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