Roadmap to Support Local Climate Resilience: Lessons from the Rising Tides Summit

The World Resource Institute released a report discussing actions that the federal government can take to promote local resilience initiatives on December 15, 2016.  The report describes the federal actions that have been taken to promote state and local resilience initiatives by the Obama administration and describes ways that the new administration can build upon and enhance these efforts.  The report also includes case studies from around the country about ways that cities, states and tribal governments are preparing for the impacts of climate change. 

Recommendations to federal agencies detailed in the report include:

  • Increase support for pre-disaster resilience initiatives.
  • Ensure that long-term federally funded infrastructure investments account for climate risks.
  • Improve interagency and intergovernmental coordination on disaster recovery both across federal agencies and with state and local partners.
  • Prioritize assistance for the most at-risk communities.
  • Develop relocation guidance for communities considering relocation as a necessary solution.
  • Expand public private partnerships to help states and communities with resilience initiatives.  (An example of a PPP that the report recommends be continued and expanded upon is the National Disaster Resilience Competition led by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in coordination with the Rockefeller Foundation and other partners.)
  • Develop financing mechanisms, such as tax credits, to encourage resilience retrofits to buildings.
  • Promote nature-based and multi-benefit projects such as green infrastructure and nature-based coastal defenses
  • Develop tools to help localities and states document the costs, damages, and losses associated with climate-relate events and provide guidance for accounting for non-economic losses.
  • Develop comprehensive resilience metrics to help localities monitor their resilience to climate change
  • Promote public awareness by updating and improving federal resilience data, tools and resources (e.g., the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit)

The report includes summaries of the remarks from federal and local officials including remarks from Dr. Kathryn Sullivan (Administrator of NOAA) on NOAA's efforts to provide real-time data and information to help communities plan for climate related threats,  Roy Wright (FEMA's Deputy Associate for Insurance Mitigation) on the need to promote community-resilience through disaster assistance programs, and Lawrence Cocchieri (Deputy Director of National Planning at the Corps) on information about climate-related risk delivered by the Corps' North Atlantic Comprehensive Study.

The report also details the existing programs and policies that support state and local resilience initiatives including federal programs such as the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program, Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, Community Development Block Grant program, Army Corps Silver Jackets program, among others.

Finally, the report includes 8 case studies of state and local resilience initiatives including discussion of efforts in Hoboken, NJ; Southeast Florida; Chicago, IL; Minot, ND; the State of California; State of Washington tribal communities; Alaska's Department of Transportation and Public Facilities; and the State of Hawaii.


The recommendations in the report were developed through a convening, the Rising Tide Summit, held in October 2015 that brought together a bipartisan group of local elected officials from coastal states with federal government officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps).  


Publication Date: December 2016

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  • Policy analysis/recommendations


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