Playbook 1.0: How Cities Are Paying for Climate Resilience

From the Innovation Network for Communities, this report discusses eight strategies city governments have used to finance climate resilience projects. These strategies were found common to eight different U.S. cities blazing the trail to fund large-scale climate resilience, especially addressing sea level rise and flooding. Other cities can use this information to adopt and build off of these strategies as they seek to fund their own adaptation projects.

This study examined how eight U.S. cities - Boston, MA; Charleston, SC; Hoboken, NJ; Miami, FL; Miami Beach, FL; New York, NY; Norfolk, VA; and San Francisco, CA - have made progress in funding some of their large-scale resilience plans. The cities included have developed climate adaptation plans for the long-term resilience of infrastructure, property, lives, businesses, and urban systems - for at least the next 10 to 20 years. Details for each city are presented in the Appendix.

This resource was featured in the August 2019 ASAP Newsletter.

The newly published Playbook 1.0: How Cities Are Paying for Climate Resilience  report outlines how eight cities are for paying for climate resilience work and explores leading-edge climate resilience financing strategies and practices. ASAP Member and report co-author Joyce Coffee shared her insights from working on the report:

"Many cities are involuntary pioneers faced with growing climate hazards and exposure that require more money for resilience. We took a close look at how eight ambitious US cities have been wooing and organizing the funds needed to implement their ambitious climate-resilience plans and found a few common strategies from generating local revenue and embedding resilience in local standards to imposing land use costs and leveraging development opportunities.

Eight strategies common to multiple study cities emerged and are presented in this report. Each strategy is introduced with examples from the study cities along with a discussion of potential challenges and opportunities related to implementing each strategy.

Strategies for financing climate resilience:

  1. Generate Local Revenue: Generate revenue for climate-resilience plans from property tax-backed general obligation bonds and from additional utility rate charges.
  2. Impose Land-Use Costs: Adopt new or updated land-use and building regulations and policies that place resilience-building costs on private developers and property owners.
  3. Embed Resilience Standards into Future Infrastructure Investments: Require capital projects to include climate change considerations in planning designs or create and update specific resilient infrastructure standards.
  4. Leverage Development Opportunities: Pair large-scale resilience projects with real estate development or redevelopment projects to generate investments from public-private partnerships.
  5. Exploit Federal Funding Niches: Despite scarce federal funds for resilience-building, identify federal funding programs with some adaptation opportunities and tailor resilience projects to fit program requirements.
  6. Tap State Government: Seek out state investment programs with which resilience projects can align.
  7. Develop Financial Innovations: Explore new mechanisms to generate revenue, such as the creation of special districts to fund specific resilience measures.
  8. Pursue Equity in Resilience: Include social and economic equity considerations in public investments and resilient infrastructure.

As solutions to the problem of funding climate resilience projects evolves, the authors recommend cities do two things:

1) “prepare for and seek to influence state and federal decisions about funding climate resilience” including having high-priority, equitable resilience projects planned and ready for implementation, and

2) “prepare for a seek to influence private investment market responses to climate risks” including incorporating resilient design standards, equity standards, and public-private cost-sharing considerations into a city’s development plans.


Publication Date: July 2019

Related Organizations:

  • Innovation Network for Communities

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