Pathways to Resilience: Transforming Cities in a Changing Climate

From the Kresge Foundation, this report explores the strategies and policies for climate resiliency in urban areas, with a focus on social equity. The report distills a vision developed through interviews and independent research through the Pathways to Resilience (P2R) Initiative. The vision of climate resilience is grounded in the perspectives of low-income communities and communities of color - and comprised of the following core elements, including:

  • human rights and democracy - focusing on advancing equity and social justice, reflecting human rights principles, and addressing historical injustices. 

    Explore principles, strategies, and California case studies on how to pursue equitable, community-led climate resilience. 

  • economy - focusing on mitigation, building local economic infrastructure, and redefining the "good life" and
  • ecology - balancing relationships with the natural world.

In 2013, Kresge partnered with the Movement Strategy Center, the Emerald Cities Collaborative, and the Praxis Project to launch the Pathways to Resilience Initiative. The partners brought together leaders from across the U.S. to consider the question “What would a climate-resilience agenda need to include for it to be socially just?” This report represents the resulting insights gained through interviews, commissioned papers, a multi-day strategy lab, and post-strategy lab reflections on the part of the initiative partners (collectively deemed the “P2R Dialogues”).  

The P2R Dialogues identified six strategic pathways that communities can use to advance climate resilience - each of which are discussed in detail in the report: 

  1. Build Power, Expand Democracy, Increase Community Voice and Transform Place
  2. Craft a Narrative Strategy that Moves the Message and Builds the Climate Resilience Constituency
  3. Create a New Economy for the New Climate Reality
  4. Advance the Climate Resilience Legal and Policy
  5. Strengthen Regionalism and Bioregional Identity (bioregional meaning natural-system boundaries, e.g., watersheds)
  6. Align and Expand Movement Infrastructure Building

The report is presented in four parts each developed independently by partner organization, while collectively confirming the six holistic strategies for resilience:

Part I: Pathways to Resilience offers a comprehensive overview of the six strategic pathways - with distinct practices to consider for each strategy. 

Part II: Redefining Resilience: Principles, Practices and Pathways, by the Movement Generation, looks at resilience from an ecological justice perspective.

Ecological Justice is described here as the state of balance between human communities and healthy ecosystems based on thriving, mutually beneficial relationships and participatory self-governance.

Considering social equity, the Movement Generation explains that rather than being viewed as victims to be protected and saved, vulnerable communities should instead define, develop and drive the solutions.

Part III: Weathering Together: Resilience as a Vehicle to Reshape Policy and Political Will, by the Praxis Project, examines the competing agendas that shape current discourse and policy making on resilience - and suggests alternatives to shape more comprehensive policy.

Part IV: California’s New Majority Confronts Climate Crisis, by B. Jesse Clarke of Reimagine!: RP&E, explores case studies from California, where frontline communities are using their political power to defeat harmful legislation and implement alternatives that are both socially just and climate resilient.

"People of color are the new majority in California and the emerging majority in the nation...New majority action on environmental issues bolsters the success of climate policy measures."


Publication Date: January 2015

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  • Case study
  • Policy analysis/recommendations


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