Governing for Resilience

Governing for Resilience describes the lessons learned from the aftermath of the 2017 North Bay fires in northern California to offer key recommendations at the local, state, and federal levels for improving governmental recovery response and resilience building. Developed based on the input of more than 800 participants at the 2019 California Economic Summit, the paper aims to promote collaborative governance and encourage partnerships with the private, non-profit, and philanthropic sectors to support community resilience to climate change.

Drawing on the example of how Sonoma County and the City of Santa Rosa successfully formed an intergovernmental relationship to “rebuild better” after the North Bay fires, this paper highlights and encourages the early formation of a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) - a collaborative governance structure. This flexible type of governance is especially advantageous when dealing with disasters that cross jurisdictional lines, enabling coordinated communication, decision-making, funding and aggregated resources to provide a comprehensive response. Local governments and agencies are encouraged to establish a formal (such as a JPA) or informal collaboration now, before disaster strikes, and consider local political issues to determine governance rules or direction. It is also recommended that these collaborations work toward operating more at a regional level to both tackle the problem at scale, and to tap into regional resources.

Recommendations at the state level include to provide support for proactive planning and financial assistance to local governments forming JPAs for resilience building. It is also recommended that the State expand regulatory waivers and streamline regulations for rebuilding and resiliency projects.

The primary federal recommendation offered is for FEMA and other agencies to support climate resilience efforts to build stronger and more climate-adapted communities that go beyond rebuilding efforts to pre-disaster states.

The importance of participation of the private sector in resilience building is also discussed. Local businesses and the philanthropic community can raise funds in support of community rebuilding and resilience. Non-profits and philanthropies can help direct resources where they are needed most. It is recommended that the private sector be involved early in the formation of collaborative governance and advocate for public policies, actions, and funding that support and promote resiliency efforts.


Publication Date: June 2019

Related Organizations:

  • California Forward


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Case study
  • Policy analysis/recommendations

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