Planning and Investing for a Resilient California - A Guidebook for State Agencies

The California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) developed this guidance document to support state agency planning and investment in the context of climate change - as directed by Executive Order B-30-15. The guidance provides state agencies with a process for determining how to integrate climate considerations into state planning and investment decisions. The guidance offers an introduction to climate risks and how to start incorporating them; some common analytical practices; and principles to guide decision making around climate adaptation, community resilience, and social equity.  The guidance also provides links to state tools, resources, studies, and models that state agencies can use to apply the best-available science in planning and investment decisions.

This resource was featured in the August 9, 2018, ASAP Newsletter.

"Governor Gerry Brown’s 2015 Executive Order B-30-15 directs state agencies to plan for climate change through all planning and investment decisions. State and local agencies have developed resources to facilitated these decisions. This guidebook, by the California Governor’s Office, provides an introduction to climate risks, principles to guide decision making, and additional resources for implementation."

The Coastal Conservancy provides funding for 'Climate Ready' projects. Climate Ready grants can support a wide range of activities including vulnerability assessments, development, and implementation of adaptation strategies, science-based scenario planning, and demonstration projects that help inform others about successful and cost-effective adaptation strategies. The funded projects are expected to maximize public benefits to the coast while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing hazards that threaten coastal communities or public infrastructure, preserving and enhancing coastal wetlands and other natural lands, conserving biodiversity and providing recreational opportunities that support greenhouse gas reduction goals.

OPR’s guidance outlines the steps that should be integrated into standard practices, including but not limited to: Infrastructure design and feasibility studies, Permitting processes, Economic analysis, and Environmental review processes under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) or the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).

A Process for State Agencies is outlined to guide agencies through a 4-step risk management process to determine how to integrate climate considerations into planning or investment decisions. These four steps are:

  1. Identify how climate change could affect a project or plan - identifying impacts of concern, and assessing the scale, scope and context of climate disruption
  2. Conduct an analysis of climate risks - selecting a climate change scenario for analysis and selecting an analytic approach
  3. Make a climate-informed decision - evaluating alternatives or design and applying resilient decision principles
  4. Track and monitor progress - developing metrics to track progress and adjusting as needed

Appendix C of the Guide includes an Equity Checklist to help state agencies ensure that plans and investment decisions are prioritizing those most at risk to the impacts of climate change. The checklist includes questions to help decisionmakers:

  • identify vulnerable populations
  • consider engagement strategies that promote collaborative decisionmaking
  • consider and address issues of racial, income and health inequities
  • consider mechanisms to create employment or job training opportunities
  • consider public health outcomes
  • address unintended consequences for vulnerable populations
  • build local capacity
  • evaluate the equity impact of programs and policies

The third step, to “Make a climate-informed decision” includes guidelines on how to build climate risk preparedness and mitigation principles into planning and investment decisions. The following 5 Principles are detailed:

  • Principle 1: Prioritize integrated climate actions
  • Principle 2: Prioritize actions that promote equity and foster community resilience
  • Principle 3: Coordinate with local and regional agencies
  • Principle 4: Prioritize actions that utilize natural and green infrastructure solutions and enhance and protect natural resources
  • Principle 5: Base all planning and investment decisions on the best-available science

Case Studies are provided describing California agencies that are already integrating climate change into planning and investment. A few examples as further detailed in the report include the 2013 California Water Plan, CA High Speed Rail Authority, and the Strategic Growth Council Grant Guidelines for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) grant program. 

The Climate-Informed Infrastructure Investment section of the report describes the prioritization of natural infrastructure, employing a full life-cycle cost accounting for infrastructure, prioritizing investments in infrastructure with integrated climate benefits, and integrating climate change resilience decision making in investments. 

Prioritize Natural Infrastructure: For all infrastructure projects, agencies are directed to evaluate if there is an opportunity to utilize natural infrastructure – either to fully accomplish the desired project goal, or as a component of the project.

Employ Full Life-Cycle Cost Accounting: California Executive Order B-30-15 directs State agencies to use full life-cycle cost accounting for all infrastructure projects. Life-cycle cost accounting integrates all costs arising from owning, operating, maintaining, and ultimately disposing of a project.

Prioritize Infrastructure with Integrated Climate BenefitsThe following criteria is described for prioritizing and selecting infrastructure projects:

  • Select options that are consistent with overall project objectives, while minimizing net GHG emissions and capitalizing on opportunities to increase carbon sequestration in the natural and built environments,
  • Demonstrate a preference for flexible and adaptive solutions that will allow for adjustment as the climate changes and/or surprises emerge, and
  • Maximize benefits conferred to vulnerable communities and individuals, and are consistent with overall project objectives.

Integrate Resilient Decision Making Principles and Infrastructure Investment: State agencies take the following steps when making investments in State-owned infrastructure: study phase, design phase, construction, and maintenance and operation. A table is provided that outlines how climate change should be integrated into each of these phases.

The guidance intended to be used in a variety of planning and investment processes, including infrastructure design and feasibility studies, permitting processes, economic analyses, and environmental review (NEPA and CEQA). It has a specific section for “climate-informed infrastructure investment,” which identifies different activities agencies should undertake to integrate climate change into different infrastructure investment phases (study, design, construction, and operations and maintenance) and potential resources to assist them in these efforts.


Publication Date: November 15, 2017


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Agency guidance/policy
  • Planning guides

States Affected:

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