U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Climate Adaptation Plan

As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, Federal agencies released their agency Sustainability Plans and Climate Change Adaptation Plans on October 31, 2014. The agencies were directed to assess their vulnerabilities to climate change impacts in these plans, and to outline how they will protect Federal programs, assets and investments. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Climate Adaptation Plan commits HHS to preparing for the challenges posed by climate change by leading the way on implementation of sustainable operations, promoting climate-resilient health and human services, supporting scientific research focused on the effects of climate change on human health and well-being, as well as developing effective risk reduction and adaptation measures.

The HHS Adaptation Plan describes all of the current and future adaptation related activities within the HHS programs, as well as the collaborative efforts with other federal entities. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) plays a leading role in coordinating climate change activities within HHS. OASH collaborates closely with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health. 

HHS related activities are presented under categories including activities on “Risk to Populations” and “Risks to the Provision of Health and Human Services,” as well as their activities to “Assess Risk via Data and Research Initiatives.”

Chapter 4 on HHS Operations describes their Sustainable Building and Energy Efforts;  Sustainable Acquisition, Procurement and Contracts; Risks and Climate Resilience of HHS Facilities; and Continuity of Operations.

In preparing this Plan, HHS has found that climate change is anticipated to have its greatest impact on people whose health status is already at risk and who have the fewest resources to address or adapt to climate change risks. For example:

  • People with impaired mobility may be challenged to quickly escape weather threats.
  • Discrete and continuous stress resulting from climate change may result in behavioral health outcomes of stress disorders and increased substance abuse as well as personal and interpersonal violence.
  • Lower-income and minority communities often experience higher rates of asthma, diabetes, and other chronic diseases that place them at higher risk of complications from extreme heat and other extreme weather. 


HHS finds that it is crucial that preparedness and resilience measures for the systems and infrastructure that provide health and human services are adequate not only for historical severity of climate and extreme weather hazards, but for increased severity, frequency, or geographic location of severe climate and extreme weather phenomena projected for the future.


The current federal agency Climate Change Adaptation Plans build on the first set of plans, released in February 2013, and respond to a November 2013 Executive Order on Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change that established requirements for updating and reporting on progress on agency Adaptation plans. 



Publication Date: October 31, 2014

Related Organizations:

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Adaptation plan

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