US EPA Planning Framework for a Climate-Resilient Economy

This framework developed by US EPA is designed to help local governments build climate-resilient economies by helping them prepare for and quickly recovery from climate impacts. The purpose of the framework is to help communities assess potential impacts to local business and their overall economic vulnerabilities to climate change.  The framework can be used to help communities integrate economic resilience into existing plans, such as comprehensive plans, hazard mitigation plans, economic development plans, capital improvement plans, transportation plans, etc.  The framework can also be used by communities to help them work with their local businesses to prepare for climate change.  It was developed to be flexible so that decisionmakers with different levels of expertise, time, and resources can use and apply the framework to their work. As such, the framework provides guidance on how to take a less-intensive qualitative approach (using existing maps, interviews, and desktop research) or a more intensive quantitative approach (using GIS, maps, and even down-scaled climate information).

Local officials are led through five basic steps:

  • Step 1 guides officials through the questions they need to ask to identify the agencies and staff persons that should be part of an assessment team (e.g., planning, emergency management, economic development, transportation, public works, public health, etc.).  The framework also helps decisionmakers identify other types of stakeholders that might be useful to a planning process (e.g., business community, chamber of commerce, insurance companies, universities, non-profit organizations etc).  In step 1, communities are also guided through the process of defining community interests, including setting the geographic boundary of the assessment and identifying the primary economic activities in the community.  Finally, the framework helps users establish their objectives for the assessment, including setting aside resources, setting timelines, and thinking through integration with other local plans.
  • Step 2 guides officials through the process of how to select climate change scenarios and assess hazards.  For communities that have not already completed a vulnerability assessment, the framework provides guidance on a basic approach and moderate and advanced approaches.
  • Step 3 guides officials through the process of developing a vulnerability assessment methodology, identifying at-risk assets, defining local vulnerability, and assessing positive and negative impacts on economic activity.  Communities are instructed to look across hazards (flooding, storm surge, drought, etc.) and rate (low, medium, or high) the vulnerability of different community assets (e.g., transportation routes, utilities, industrial operations, etc.).  Once an asset is identified as vulnerable, the framework then helps officials assess how impacts to that asset might affect the local economy, including impacts during the hazard event, immediate impacts of the hazard, and long-term impacts.  Appendix C provides information about data, tools, and other resources that can help communities develop a vulnerability assessment.
  • Step 4 helps officials then take the analysis of the vulnerability of individual assets and analyze the overall economic implications for the community by thinking through the interconnections of the economy.  To develop this component, officials are guided through the process of how to gather local knowledge through public and stakeholder input, including gathering input from real estate, business, and residential demographics.
  • Step 5 instructs officials on how to use the results of the assessment to raise public awareness and garner support.  It also helps officials identify actions to enhance economic resilience and develop a plan.  The framework includes tables of public- and private-sector policies and actions that can be taken to build capacity, reduce risks through land-use and other economic development policies, strengthen the resilience of infrastructure, and prepare businesses.

The framework includes mini case studies of initiatives and actions that were taken in different communities to build economic resilience.  It also showcases tools and reports developed by other federal agencies that can be used by local officials to develop plans for enhancing economic resilience.

EPA worked with the Rhode Island Division of Planning to develop this framework and it was piloted in the North Kingstown, Rhode Island

 In order to maintain access to this website, we are linking to an archived version of the website saved on January 24, 2017. The original link can be found here: 


Publication Date: April 2016

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  • Planning guides


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