Oregon Climate Change Adaptation Framework 2021

On January 19, 2021, the Oregon Climate Change Adaptation Framework was released by the Department of Land Conservation and Development in collaboration with multiple state agencies to provide an updated guide to ensuring Oregon’s people, ecosystems, and economy are able to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate. The Framework is divided into five sections: Why We Must Adapt; Implementing Comprehensive Climate Change Adaptation; Climate Change Effects and Strategic Responses by Theme; Next Steps; and the Oregon Climate Equity Blueprint. Part Three specifically details numerous actionable adaptation strategies and approaches organized into six themes: Economy; Natural World; Built Environment and Infrastructure; Public Health; Cultural Heritage; and Social Relationships and Systems.

The Framework was developed by a Working Group, composed of 24 state agencies, and coordinated by the Department of Land Conservation and Development. The Working Group was tasked with strengthening interagency coordination and to focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion in the implementation of climate programs. Under the Framework, adaptation is defined as long-term, transformative actions taken in response to changes caused by existing concentrations of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. The Framework presents Oregon’s objectives to engage emerging opportunities, protect people and the environment, and use limited state dollars in an efficient manner. 

Part One of the Framework identifies climate and ocean projections in Oregon and elucidates three guiding principles that state agencies are employing to support adaptation and mitigation efforts: 

  • Embrace flexibility in the face of climate change uncertainty;
  • Recognize that climate change is a “stress multiplier;” and
  • Acknowledge climate change will not be borne equally by all people.

Part Two stresses the importance of interagency coordination, and consideration of equity, diversity, and inclusion in program planning and implementation. This section provides five actions deemed necessary for the design and implementation of climate change adaptation strategies:

  1. Establish a multi-agency leadership structure;
  2. Ensure the use of best practices in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI);
  3. Complete a comprehensive climate change vulnerability assessment;
  4. Improve interagency coordination and information sharing; and
  5. Integrate responses to climate change throughout agency operations.

Part Three illustrates the institutionalization of adaptation across six multi-sector themes. Each of these themes are explored in their climate change effects, vulnerabilities, and potential adaptation strategies:

The “Economy” theme entails the development of a resilient economy through actions such as: preparing the workforce to participate in emerging sectors of renewable energy, strengthening resilience of small businesses through continuity planning and emergency capital, and providing opportunities for underrepresented communities and businesses. In order to support the natural resource economy, the Working Group also advises actions like conducting soil health studies as well as forest and land management in order to ensure healthy soil practices and potential management scenarios like longer rotations, larger stream buffers, and prescribed burning.

The “Natural World” theme accounts for supporting terrestrial, aquatic, coastal, and marine ecosystems. To support the health of the ocean, the theme includes implementing coast-wide ocean acidification and hypoxia (OAH) monitoring, and engaging in collaborative groups to protect blue carbon ecosystems which provide fish rearing sites and buffers against sea-level rise. Terrestrial ecosystem support comes in the form of promoting green infrastructure, maintaining estuaries, and promoting assisted migration, especially in coordination with forest restoration projects.

The “Built Environment and Infrastructure” theme ensures buildings, utilities, and infrastructure can weather extreme climate events and conditions. Some projects identified by the Framework include  designing resilient transportation projects in highly vulnerable areas, updating engineering heuristics and design standards to accommodate new peak storm flow and energy demand, and promoting green infrastructure and limiting stormwater runoff.

The “Public Health” theme outlines reducing climate-related health risks and promoting community resilience. This will require tailored approaches that examine the root causes of existing racial and socioeconomic disparities in Oregon. “Effective adaptation includes partnering with communities to co-create and implement culturally appropriate, trauma-informed interventions,” with numerous climate strategies overlapping to provide numerous public health benefits.

The “Cultural Heritage” theme underscores working with tribal governments, and reducing exposure to vulnerable historical, cultural, and archaeological resources through data collection and management plans, to adapt to the impacts of climate change on Oregon’s cultural landscapes. 

The “Social Relationships and Systems” bolsters equity and engagement through identifying “impacted communities” and creating opportunities for community members to participate in the decision making process.

Part Four details next steps for establishing a multi-agency leadership structure and completing a comprehensive climate change vulnerability and social resiliency assessment, whereas Part Five is the “State of Oregon Climate Equity Blueprint.” 

The 2021 Framework updates the 2010 Oregon Climate Change Adaptation Framework and applies new knowledge of risks and opportunities. The original 2010 document identified 11 key risks that each provided risk assessment results; consequences; current state agency efforts; gaps in agency capacity; needed actions; and priority implementation actions. The Working Group plans to continue meeting  to recommend a multi-agency implementation plan, and later in 2021, the Framework will be appended to the Oregon Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan. The Adaptation Framework will be reviewed by state agencies every five years.

Publication Date: January 19, 2021

Related Organizations:

  • State of Oregon

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Resource Types:

  • Adaptation plan

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