Tribal Climate & Health Adaptation Webinar Series

The Tribal Climate Health Project (TCHP) hosted a series of 10 live, national webinars on Tribal Climate and Health Adaptation (TCHA) between August to December 2019. These webinars provided training and guidance for tribal-serving health and environmental professionals on the intersection of climate change and tribal health. The trainings included steps, tools, case studies, and other resources on topics including the different climate-related impacts on tribal communities, how to perform vulnerability assessments, and how to form, implement and evaluate adaptation strategies and plans. There were several interactive components of this training, as participants were encouraged each week to discuss related readings, provide their own experiences and findings, and participate in polls, surveys, and other forms of feedback along the entire 10 week training. 

Each training was recorded and can be found on the Tribal Climate Health Project website. These approximately 1 hour trainings were broken into the following topics: 

  • Webinar 1 - Introduction 
  • Webinar 2 - Climate Change and Health 101 
  • Webinar 3 - Changing Climate Exposures and Impacts 
  • Webinar 4 - Wildfire and Drought 
  • Webinar 5 - Storms & Flooding and Melting Ice & Sea Level Rise 
  • Webinar 6 - Vulnerability Assessments 1
  • Webinar 7 - Vulnerability Assessments 2 
  • Webinar 8 - Adaptation Plans 1 
  • Webinar 9 - Adaptation Plans 2 
  • Webinar 10 - Implement, Evaluate, and Update Adaptation Plan

Between 50-70 people representing tribes and tribal-serving organizations registered and attended this training series. The two trainers were Dr Shausta Gaughen of Pala Band of Mission Indians and Agie Hacker from Prosper Sustainability. Several guest speakers also led chats on topics ranging from Tribal Epidemiology Centers to Psycho-Social Adaptation Strategies for Tribal Communities to Tribal Microgrid Projects.

The training series was designed to incorporate multiple forms of participant engagement and feedback. Before the first training, participants were encouraged to fill out a pre-assessment to demonstrate their understanding of climate change and its impacts on health, how to assess climate vulnerability, and how to complete an adaptation plan. They were also asked to complete suggested readings before each webinar, and discuss these readings with the TCHA trainers at the beginning of each session. The sessions themselves include several prompts for discussion and group polls for participants to fill out. Participants could also use the chat function at any time to share stories and comment on the presentation materials. After each webinar, the TCHA trainers also set aside time for the trainees to both provide specific examples and reflections on the materials, and perform individual self reflection through filling out a provided form. At the end of the final 10th webinar, these participants were asked to take a final post assessment, in order to track their progress and lessons learned, and were encouraged to join the Tribal Climate Health Ongoing Learning Community. 

Each topic was discussed in its relation to the TCHP Framework, as seen below, which outlines the drivers of health issues in tribal communities, the exposures they face, the impacts of these exposures, and the strategies to protect the community. 



Several webinars paid special attention to the specific climate impacts affecting tribal communities. These impacts included wildfire and drought, storms and flooding, and melting ice and sea level rise. In discussing each of these impacts, the trainers discussed the key climate exposure facts and related exposures, the regions affected, the potential physical, mental, social, economic, and cultural health impacts, the environmental impacts, infrastructure damage, the populations most vulnerable to this threat, sample strategies to address the impacts, and a tribal case study. 

Two of the webinars went over how to perform a vulnerability assessment for a tribal community. The trainers discuss the different approaches, steps, and tools that are helpful in undergoing an assessment. The following steps were suggested:

  1. Determine Objectives and Scope 
  2. Engage the Community 
  3. Identify Key Indicators
  4. Gather and Analyze Information
  5. Prioritize Vulnerabilities 
  6. Synthesize and Present Results 

The series ended with sessions on how to create and implement an adaptation plan. The steps to create an adaptation plan include: 

  1. Determine Objectives and Scope 
  2. Compile “Long List” of Adaptation Strategies
  3. Evaluate and Prioritize “Short List” of Adaptation Strategies
  4. Organize Selected Strategies into an Adaptation Plan
  5. Synthesize and Present Results 

Several examples were provided to illustrate how to implement and monitor these plans once formed. 

These webinars were supplemented with multiple other resources throughout the presentation, such as fact sheets, survey templates, sample reports, case studies, informational websites, and more. Each training ended with a slide of additional key resources, including additional tools and examples. 

Publication Date: December 2019

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