Local Solutions Report: Identifying and Meeting the Needs of Local Communities Adapting to Climate Change

This report analyzes feedback from over 600 respondents from 48 states and 19 countries working on climate adaptation at the local level. The report makes the case that climate adaptation at the local level is vital, but that local practitioners need additional support. Data collected by Antioch University New England’s Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience was used to the determine the issues that local communities face when adapting to climate change and offers recommendations to better meet those needs.

The paper begins with an overview of current efforts underway to address climate change, and the role of local governments in these efforts. It argues that, while state and federal action is necessary, local level adaptation is uniquely able to reflect and implement community priorities. The report also notes that more than 90% of U.S. municipalities have populations of less than 25,000 people and often have fewer resources than large urban centers like New York City or Boston. This means that a range of partners will be necessary for many communities looking to improve their  ability to effectively address climate risks. Drawing on data collected through surveys, webinars, and travel grants to preparedness conferences, the authors find that local decision makers are looking for support in finding relevant data, bringing stakeholders to the table, accessing funding, coordinating at the regional level, translating science into policies, planning for business continuity, among others.

The report strongly advocates for a “climate justice moral imperative that ensures that those least resilient to the impacts of changing climate became a priority of any climate adaptation plan.” It is suggested that local adaptation efforts must include vulnerable groups in the planning process, including “children, disabled, elderly, homeless, immigrant, low-income, and other historically marginalized people.”

The report highlights the efforts of a project in Bridgeport, Connecticut to include senior citizens in the planning process. It goes on to assert that incorporating a diversity of perspectives  in the planning process will allow local communities to create plans that meet the needs of the community, reflect local knowledge and values, and receive the support of community leaders.

Several recommendations for local level adaptation planning are provided, including:

  • Provide funding resources and encourage private sector investment for local adaptation efforts
  • Develop data sets relevant to adaptation planning  for local policymakers
  • Build local capacity through a variety of information distribution methods with an emphasis on peer-to-peer interactions and practical guidance  (ex. webinars, conferences)
  • Facilitate regional cooperation
  • Conduct ongoing assessments to determine how the needs of local communities are changing

Each of these recommendations is described in more detail in the “Opportunities for Action” section of the report.


Publication Date: October 2016

Authors or Affiliated Users:

Related Organizations:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Policy analysis/recommendations

Go To Resource