Community-Driven Climate Resilience Planning: A Framework

Informed by community-based organizations from across the country, this report outlines a framework 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 report 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 to:

  • 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 entails 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.

This resource was featured in the May 19, 2017, ASAP Newsletter.

"Just released by Movement Strategy Center, Community-Driven Climate Resilience Planning: A Framework, Version 2.0 outlines principles, practices, and vital roles that community-based organizations play in actively building resident leadership to advance climate resilience solutions and fill gaps in governance. Drawing from community resilience efforts across the country - from San Francisco to the Gulf Coast to Buffalo, New York - this articulated framework documents seven case studies and points to opportunities to advance existing work and accelerate more equitable and community-driven resilience in the future."

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
  • Interventions to keep public planning processes “on track”

Case studies in the guide describe resilience efforts in New York City and Buffalo, New York; Richmond and San Francisco, California; Minneapolis, Minnesota; 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:


  • May 15, 2018
    Felipe Floresca, Vice President at Emerald Cities Collaborative

    This practical planning guide (National Association of Climate Resilience Planners and the Movement Strategy Center) offers a framework informed by community-based organizations and and leaders of vulnerable and impacted communities that define for themselves the challenges of multi-faceted issues - racism, inequality, and limited social inclusion. This guide promotes power building, assessing community vulnerability and assets, and promoting local interventions. Efforts in New York City, Buffalo, Richmond, San Fransisco, Minneapolis, and the Gulf Coast are underscored.


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

    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.