Paying for Climate Adaptation in California: A Primer for Practitioners

This guide provides information for local, state and regional practitioners in California on how to pay for the investments needed to prepare for the impacts of climate change. It provides an analysis of the legal context for funding and financing adaptation investments in California and catalogues different sources of funding that could be used to pay for adaptation. The report also provides equity principles that could be used for directing investments in climate resilience. 

This resource was featured in the November 1, 2018, ASAP Newsletter.

"The Resources Legacy Fund and AECOM are pushing forward on empowering practitioners to take action since the release of California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment. Principles, strategies and options for investing in more resilient communities and natural systems are included in their report, Paying for Climate Adaptation in California: A Primer for Practitioners to spur creative, practical problem solving and enable communities to thrive as conditions change."

The report includes the following elements:

  1. Key terms, concepts and definitions 
  2. Legal and Constitutional provisions in California that affect how state, local and regional entities can fund and finance resilience projects
  3. A summary of funding sources and ways that jurisdictions can develop revenues to support resilience investments, including: grants, assessments, taxes, fees, and public-private partnerships
  4. A summary of financing tools that jurisdictions could use to support resilience investments, including: bonds and loans
  5. The institutions that can play a role in supporting resilience investments and the types of tools available to each institution, including: nonprofit and educational institutions, public sector institutions, and private sector institutions
  6. Equity considerations for funding and financing resilience investments, including considerations of how to raise funds, how to spend funds, and who should be involved in these decisions.

The report concludes with a series of recommendations for directing investments in resilience:

  • incorporate resilient-design principles in infrastructure design and investment decisionmaking
  • adopt climate-risk disclosure requirements
  • provide market incentives for resilience projects
  • provide better climate risk data
  • improve cost-benefit analyses to evaluate the costs of adaptation compared to the costs of doing nothing
  • identify funding and financing strategies for all stages from project design, construction, to long-term maintenance
  • enhance efficiencies by coordinating adaptation across jurisdictions
  • develop multi-benefit projects that can draw from multiple sources of funding
  • engage communities on project design
  • encourage private sector participation

This resource discusses the "equity-centered considerations" that state, local and regional practitioners need to consider when funding and financing resilience projects, including: considerations about how money should be raised and the ability to pay, how money should be spent, and who should have a role in determining how money is spent.


The report was prepared by AECOM with support from the Resources Legacy Fund and was developed to inform the California Governor's Office of Planning and Research and the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program's Technical Advisory Committee.


Publication Date: October 2018

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Resource Types:

  • Funding program

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