Prioritizing Local Climate Adaptation through Regional Collaboration on Maryland's Eastern Shore

Focused on the Eastern Shore region of Maryland, this white paper makes the case that preparing for and adapting to climate change impacts should be a priority for local governments. The paper also describes the benefits of regional collaboration and the consequences of inaction, and offers recommendations on how to prioritize local adaptation. This report was prepared for the Eastern Shore Climate Adaptation Partnership (ESCAP) by the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy.   

The Eastern Shore of Maryland is in the Chesapeake Bay, which is considered to be one of the country’s regions most vulnerable to sea level rise, recurrent flooding and storm surge. This paper details these and other primary climate change impacts for this area including permanent inundation, shoreline erosion, heat, extreme rainstorms, drought and agricultural challenges.

The imperative to prioritize local climate readiness in the region is based on the following:

  • There are severe climate change impacts already occurring 
  • According to local polls and interviews, Eastern Shore residents want their local governments to address climate risk.
  • And according to ESCAP, effective options and financial benefits are available for Maryland’s Eastern Shore if adaptation begins now. The finding is that few communities have sufficient financial reserves to handle the costs of a natural disaster, so pre-disaster mitigation - such as building resilient infrastructure for example - is key to protecting a community’s future.

Relaying the “Consequences of Inaction,” ESCAP determined that the greatest consequence of choosing not to prepare for climate change impacts will be a “deterioration of public safety and well-being.” Other significant consequences discussed here are: negative health outcomes, financial costs of inaction, and local government liability.

Five broad recommendations are made for how to prioritize local adaptation, which are detailed further in the paper: 

    1. Identify and support local champions of climate adaptation
    2. Engage collaborative partnerships
    3. Integrate climate adaptation strategies into planning processes and policies
    4. Encourage the state to expand support for local adaptation
    5. Collectively, move the ESCAP toward a sustainable funding and governance model


The Eastern Shore Climate Adaptation Partnership (ESCAP) was established in 2016 to assist vulnerable communities with preparing for climate change impacts. The partnership is an informal regional collaboration of staff from seven local governments, state agencies, academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations. 


Publication Date: July 2017

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  • Policy analysis/recommendations

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