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An assessment of the common practices and needs in Eastern U.S. cities

Authors: James Leahy, PE, LEED AP

Table of contents 1

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ...................................................................................................... 4


INTRODUCTION .............................................................................................................. 4


ANALYSIS ...................................................................................................................... 7


CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ........................................................................ 20


BIBLIOGRAPHY ............................................................................................................. 22




I’d like to thank the city, county and state government staff who took the time to talk with me about their work experiences. The findings from this research would not have been possible without their willingness to share their stories. Their creativity, persistence and dedication to finding ways to fight climate change and protect their communities against the dangers of extreme weather events is a truly inspiring. •

Amber Weaver, Sustainability Officer, City of Asheville, NC

Jennifer Green, Sustainability Manager, Burlington Electric Department, Burlington, VT

Gina Mathias, Sustainability Manager, Takoma Park, MD

Mary Pat Baldauf, Sustainability Facilitator, City of Columbia, SC

David Kooris, Director of Resilience, State of Connecticut

John Bolduc, Environmental Planner, City of Cambridge, MA

James Redick, Director of Emergency Management, City of Norfolk, VA

Alicia Zatcoff, Sustainability Manager, City of Richmond, VA

Nathaly Agosto Filion, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Newark, NJ

Erin Hafkenschiel, Director of Transportation and Sustainability, City of Nashville, TN

Sarah Wu, Deputy Director of Sustainability, City of Philadelphia, PA

Jennifer Jurado, Chief Resilience Officer, Broward County, FL

I’d also like to thank Wayne Cobleigh of GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc., Julie Eaton of Weston and Sampson, Inc. and Steve Nicholas of the Institute for Sustainable Communities for their contribution. Their insights and opinions of climate adaptation and climate action practices at the city and state level contribute to the richness of this dialogue. Furthermore, I’d like to thank Ricky Burdett and Savvas Verdis of the London School of Economics. Their guidance and support were critical to the success of executing this research project.




In June 2017, 392 Mayors of U.S. cities pledged to adopt, honor, and uphold the goals of the Paris Accord after the United State Federal Government withdrew from the agreement (Climate Mayors, 2017). The mayors who signed on to this pledge recognized the importance of addressing climate change. Prior to 2010, climate adaptation and mitigation efforts were sparse. In the Eastern U.S., only eight adaptation or resilience plans had been completed up that time. 1 Since then, at least 39 other cities or counties have completed adaptation plans 2. Similarly, CDP has reported a tenfold increase in the number of cities reporting GHG emissions since 2011 (CDP, 2017). There are mainly three ways in which cities work to address climate change: •

Mitigation – actions taken to reduce emissions from man-made activities that cause climate change (Action on Climate Today, 2015)

Adaptation – actions taken to counteract new or changing environmental conditions (ibid)

Resilience – building the capacity to continue to function and operate during extreme conditions and recover back to normalcy after an extreme event (ibid).

For the purposes of this paper, any city planning activity that employs these methods is considered a climate planning activity. “Climate action” includes the implementation of planning strategies. It’s expected that cities across the globe will continue to increase their efforts to address climate change because of the threat it poses to urban assets and populations. Recent research suggests that while existing climate change adaptation services and resources have supported the early phases of local adaptation planning efforts sufficiently, they are failing to meet the needs associated with implementing, monitoring, and evaluating these projects (Nordgren, Stults, & Meerow, 2016). Additionally, a lack of funding and staff time to support adaptation, as well as inaccessible resource formats, are barriers that impede local climate adaptation efforts (ibid). This paper explores climate change activities underway in the Eastern U.S., seeks to understand how they are currently managed, and identifies gaps that cities need to address to reach their goals.

Aim, scope and objectives This research aims to learn about the current practices cities use to manage their climate planning activities and identify the common challenges they face. It focuses on cities in the Eastern United States that are working towards a variety of climate related goals. A series of interviews with city staff who lead these efforts were conducted to understand: •

How they currently manage a range of climate planning activities

Where the overlap exists in managing mitigation, adaptation and resilience projects

What the best practices are for executing these activities in tandem

What the challenges or threats are that the cities face in advancing these efforts

The interviews with city staff reveal that these activities are managed in a variety of ways. In some cities, climate planning efforts were found to be well organized and coordinated. In others, resilience or adaptation is the primary focus and mitigation efforts occur elsewhere such as in academia or at a regional level. And yet in others, mitigation is the focus, and adaptation or resilience is considered inherent. Ultimately, what drives these activities is the perception of risk of climate change by city 1 East coast of the United States and as far west as Ohio and the Gulf Coast including the Houston, Texas area 2 Based on a review of plans available on the Georgetown University’s Adaptation Clearinghouse website


leaders, the resources available to the staff for executing plans and the goals which the cities strive to achieve.

Research methodology This section describes the methodologies to gather and analyze the information used to identify potential areas of need in addressing climate change. The research was limited to cities in the Eastern U.S. because of the diversity of activities and varying politics that influence these efforts. An initial literature review was performed to understand the breadth and types of climate planning activities that have recently occurred in cities in the Eastern U.S., as well as who was involved, how they were funded and why they occurred. The most comprehensive data set found for this information was the Adaptation Clearinghouse developed by the Georgetown Climate Center (Georgetown University). Plans in this dataset were developed from the early 2000’s through the year 2016. In all, 49 adaptation or resilience related plans were collected from the Adaptation Clearinghouse. To supplement and expand the list of cities that have undertaken climate planning activities, a dataset from CDP was used. CDP is a leading organization to which cities and private companies report their GHG emissions. Their Open Data Portal allows users to download a list of the cities that have reported emissions. The most recent reporting year, 2017, was referenced. After narrowing down the list of reporting cities to those in the eastern U.S., 53 cities were found to have reported emissions in 2017. These two lists of cities were then combined and any duplicates were removed, resulting in a sample of 90 cities that were known to have developed either adaptation or resilience plans, emissions inventories or all three. Once the list of cities was compiled, additional information was gathered on each of the cities in the list including city population, population change since 2000, median household income and cost of living. This information was collected from, an on-line information website that collects data and provides statistics on cities in the U.S. Each city was also identified by region according to their location. The regions were defined as Northeast U.S., Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast. Three criteria were chosen to stratify the sample and identify a smaller set of cities to interview and understand more clearly how they manage climate planning activities. The three criteria were Region, Population Range and Activity Conducted. Table 1 shows the ranges defined for each of the criteria.


Table 1: Criteria used to classify cities With the cities each classified according to population range, region, and activity, 14 cities were selected for in-depth interviews that provided an even distribution across each category. To supplement the city interviews, conversations were also held with two consulting firms who have well established practices in climate change adaptation – GZA Geo-Environmental, Inc. and Weston and Sampson Engineers, Inc. A third conversation with a representative from the Institute for Sustainable Communities provided insight on ways to support capacity building in cities.

Evaluation of research framework and limits of research This research was not meant to be a scientific analysis. It combined a literature review with in-depth interviews with city staff and industry practitioners to produce a qualitative assessment to advise on the development of a business strategy. While the findings here provide useful insight into the general practices for managing climate planning activities, they are not representative of all eastern U.S. cities. An effort was made to interview a cross-section of cities at different stages of climate planning and activities, but the potential for bias exists based on the willingness of participants to participate due to their position, interests and goals. Out of the 12 city staff interviewed, 10 held a position of sustainability manager/director, resilience officer, or some other variation of those titles. Of the more than 1,000 U.S. cities with populations over 25,000, many are not yet doing a significant amount of climate adaptation planning work (Innovation Network for Communities, 2017). Future research would benefit from input from cities that have not prioritized climate change to understand the barriers that keep them from acting.


Additionally, the 90 climate planning activities identified through a review of the Georgetown Adaptation Clearinghouse, and CDP Open Data, is not a complete list of all activities that have occurred. While the Georgetown Adaptation Clearinghouse includes many plans, the interviews indicate that not all adaptation or resilience plans or efforts are captured there. Similarly, the CDP Open Data only includes cities that have reported emissions through CDP in 2017. Many cities track emissions, but have not reported or did not report that year. Other cities report through the ICLIE’s Carbonn Climate Registry.



This section covers two phases of analysis. The first is the review of the information found from 90 cities in both the Georgetown Adaptation Clearinghouse database and the CDP database. The second phase uses my interviews with 12 city staff responsible for sustainability or climate planning to understand their management practices. It also includes my reflections on the discussions held with three other consulting organizations on this topic.

Sources of data The research for this project relied on various types of sources of information to assess the opportunities the needs of cities. The sources as well as their use are summarized in Table 2.


Table 2: Sources of data used for research

Literature review The information collected on the 90 cities was used to understand breadth of climate planning activities that have occurred in recent years, where they occurred, and the influence of extreme events on the occurrence of activities, and how they were funded. Understanding these aspects helps identify why, when and where new activities may take place as well as provide an understanding of who the funders are of this work. Figure 1 maps out how the information was used for this analysis.

Figure 1: Relevance of literature review to project aim


The influence of weather events Since 1980, the U.S. has suffered 219 events that have caused $1 billion or more in damage (NOAA, 2018). The average number of billion-dollar events per year over that period was 5.8. Over the last five years the annual average has doubled to 11.6 billion-dollar events per year (ibid). The years 2017 and 2011 were tied for the highest number of billion-dollar events with 16 (ibid). To understand the effect these events have on climate planning activities, the hazards and their associated losses were reviewed. Figure 2 shows the climate planning activities versus the total dollar losses by state and the sum of multi-hazard events by state (NOAA, 2018). Two things stand out in these maps: 1) there have been a wide range of climate planning activities in the New England region, even though this area has suffered fewer impacts than other areas in the East, and 2) the Southeast has experienced multiple impacts from these events, yet outside of South Florida and the Mississippi/Louisiana Gulf Coast region, climate planning activities are primarily limited to GHG inventories. The other few exceptions are Tybee Island, GA, Charlestown, SC and Norfolk, VA – each of which is highly vulnerable to sea level rise (NOAA, 2018) as well as coastal storms.


Figure 2: City activities, total losses & number of hazards by state Conclusion In reviewing the activities found in the Georgetown Adaptation Clearinghouse and CDP database, the primary correlation that can be found between the events and the planning activities occurred in the New York City region, the South Florida region, and the Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Coast region. They are also the three areas that have been hit by catastrophic events in recent years – Hurricane Katrina (2005), Hurricane Sandy (2012), and Hurricane Irma (2017) 3. The activities in the other areas of the Eastern U.S. do not appear to be driven by events. There is likely some other factor driving those activities, be it funding, or recognition by city leaders of climate change risks.

Funding The sources of funding for the plans found through the Georgetown Adaptation Clearinghouse database were reviewed to assess the various sources. It was not always clear from the planning documents how the work was funded; however, 29 of 48 resilience or adaptation plans were found to be funded through grants (see Figure 3). Many of these grants were Federal grants from organizations like NOAA, or Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Other grants came from donor organizations such as 100 Resilient Cities or state-level grants. Information available from CDP on GHG emissions reporting does not include sources of funding, so those were not included here.

3 The climate planning activities captured here for South Florida were completed before Hurricane Irma struck in 2017, but other previous storms

as well as the threat of sea level rise likely contributed to these activities occurring. 10

Figure 3: Sources of funding for climate adaptation or resilience planning When viewed by location and by population size, the widespread use of grants to fund this work, particularly by smaller cities, becomes more apparent (see Figure 4). Further, Figure 4 also shows the distribution of adaptation and resilience planning is much more widespread in the Northeast than in the Southeast and along the coast as opposed to inland.

Figure 4: Funding sources for adaptation and resilience activities population 11

Conclusion For those adaptation and resilience planning activities conducted, grant funding has played a significant role to date. The unknown funding sources are likely locally funded projects. This topic is further explored in the in-depth interviews. The key takeaway here is that many cities in the Southeast have not developed resilience and adaptation plans. Also, they have not been the main beneficiaries of grant funding.

In-depth Interviews Interviews were conducted with staff from 12 cities who are responsible for managing climate planning activities. Discussions with three outside consultants were held as well to get their perspective. The information provided below is based on the interviews with each of these people. Figure 5 shows how the information gathered here relates to the overall project aim.

Figure 5: Relevance of interviews to project aim Many of the city staff interviewed held the position of Sustainability Director or Manager, Chief Resilience Officer or other planning related position. Their responsibilities are often solely focused on managing sustainability initiatives for the city. As this is a relatively nascent field, the people in these positions are usually tasked with trying to address the very complex issue of sustainability and resilience, often with unproven strategies. Having few others internally to rely on for advice or guidance, they rely heavily on networks and sharing information with staff in similar positions in other cities. Where they are housed within city government also varies. Many are part of the Mayor’s Office while others sit within a planning or transportation department. Table 3 provides a listing of the cities interviewed, the interviewee’s title, and the size and region their city can be found.


Table 3: List of cities and staff interviewed for in-depth research Figure 6 shows the different types of planning activities each of the cities have undertaken in recent years. Not every plan developed or initiative underway falls squarely in each category. For instance, the City of Ashville has numerous initiatives which contribute to a reduction in GHG emissions including a Food Policy Action Plan and a Green Building Program. Similarly, Richmond, VA is developing a plan to enhance their urban tree canopy. These actions could be a strategy adopted as part of a climate action plan; however, they tend to be managed as part of the overall sustainability agenda so these initiatives are captured here in the Sustainability Plan category. For resilience and adaptation, the categories may also include several activities but are generally classified as Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (CCVA), Resilience Plan or Adaptation Plan. Broward County, FL, for example, has recently completed the development and application of advanced models to inform policy and planning, piloting of new technologies, investments in shoreline protection projects and programs, modernization of regulatory processes, municipal collaborations and regional outreach, state and federal agency partnerships, and agency-wide training and coordination as part of their resilience planning and preparation efforts (Broward County Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division, 2017). Because these are all strategies being implemented as part of a larger effort that required planning to increase resilience and combat the future impacts of climate change, Broward Co. is shown below as having done a CCVA, Resilience Plan and Adaptation Plan. What 13

becomes clear is that there are many more activities occurring in these cities than was indicated in the literature review.

Figure 6: Climate Planning Activities by City/County Lastly, many of the interviewees expressed that these initiatives are driven by a Mayor’s commitment to achieve a certain goal. The commitments that were commonly referred to were their own 80% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050 goals, being signatories of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, We Are Still In, and the Sierra Club’s Mayors for 100% Clean Energy. Figure 7 shows the goals driving many of these efforts.


Figure 7: Overarching climate goals adopted by Cities and Counties interviewed

Key challenges In coordinating the various climate planning activities, there are many different challenges. Part of the difficulty of this work stems from the need to coordinate work and information sharing across many stakeholders and city departments. As one of the interviewees stated, she sees herself as the train conductor and needs align the work of other departments with her goals. To be successful, she needs to have buy-in and support from other department heads and staff. As another interviewee mentioned, the 15

role they play in managing sustainability programs is much more than crunching numbers and presenting data: many times it’s more about relationship management. Other challenges mentioned include: •

Communications – Effectively communicating climate initiatives with citizenry is one of the biggest challenges. How do you get the community to better understand these issues? One of the cities noted that under “blue sky” conditions, this is extremely difficult, so they make sure to do their due diligence and be prepared as best as possible for when a disaster does strike.

Data collection and protocols – gathering the information needed for planning activities can be difficult in and of itself; however, the data sets can be overwhelming and continuously managing and maintaining data is not well done.

Interdependencies – Several cities noted challenges in working with the local electric utilities, as well as insurers and other utilities such as telecom and water. It was noted that none of these entities assess risk in the same way, which leads to tensions and prevents having a unified approach to addressing climate change. It’s not only difficult to scale down the message to the local community but also scale up and work with utilities or other organizations to better serve the communities.

Internal coordination – Some of the cities struggle with inconsistency in staff involvement from other departments or not having complete buy-in. Most cities stated that they have a good awareness of the projects or activities other departments have underway, but one person did mention that information about projects in other departments is not always shared, so they feel the onus is on them to keeps track of other projects.

Institutionalization - Climate change is certainly not institutionalized in city planning processes. As one interviewee stated climate change needs to be considered like we consider the weather. Before we do anything, we should check how climate change might affect that work, which often does not happen.

There’s also the issue of funding, which is explored further below. But a notable challenge mentioned by some of the cities was around the idea of not only how to pay but who should pay. As mentioned above, many of the cities have adopted a 100% renewable energy goal to address climate change, but in many cases the electric utilities own the assets. As one person stated “we can apply a penny sales tax to help with funding or something similar, but we need to also have the utilities be a source of change.”

Methods for overcoming challenges A common practice among the interviewees was the formation or use of steering committees, advisory boards, and task forces to overcome coordination and communications challenges. The importance of holding in-person meetings was stressed by several people. In addition, as one sustainability manager mentioned, building support for these efforts as early as possible is also important. Ideally, she sought to begin conversations about projects 3 – 5 years in advance if possible. As another interviewee mentioned, establishing good partners within the city as well as within the community is crucial. Only one of the interviewees named the contractor hiring process as an impediment to climate planning activities; however, there were different feelings when speaking with other consultants about the contracting process. To them, the competitive procurement process is counterproductive for this work. The effort to win work is time consuming and expensive and the contractors with the best tools and resources are not always the ones hired. The large majority of the work is competitively bid, according to the interviewees. Some of the drawbacks noted by the city staff were: 16

They’re often wary of “helicopter” contractors – contractors who are opportunistic and bid on work they may or may not be qualified for

Many times these projects require innovative and original thinking which becomes very difficult to manage on a set budget

There’s always a risk that contractors don’t have a good understanding of the local context, and therefore don’t produce products that speak to the community.

For planning efforts to be successful, you need to understand the local context. As one interviewee stated, ideally contractors can take progressive ideas and innovation from projects elsewhere and can demonstrate that they are able to apply them under the local context. Interviewees felt comfortable contracting out work like GHG emissions inventories to contractors who are not locally based because this is mainly a number crunching exercise. Some tips were offered for hiring contractors: 1. So-called “house-doctor” contracts offer flexibility in terms of scoping, timing and scale of project work 2. Leveraging contracts from other departments, such as energy service contracts or other on-call contracts, can make the hiring process less cumbersome 3. Soliciting bids through a “Requests for Qualifications” process allows cities to select a preferred contractor and then negotiate scope and budget after selection.

Funding In speaking with the representatives from each of the cities, it’s apparent that securing funding for climate planning projects often requires creativity. All the interviewees described a variety of ways they seek funding for their projects. The primary means for funding their work is through the city operating budget, but interviewees also use the capital improvements budget when possible. A third means of acquiring funding for projects is through grants, although feelings on using grants were mixed. Philadelphia uses different funding streams but tries to use the capital improvement budget as much as possible. They make it a regular practice to identify which projects are capital improvements eligible and which are not. Their resilience and adaptation plan, “Growing Stronger: Towards a Climate-Ready Philadelphia,” was funded through the operating/professional services budget. Overall it seems that adaptation projects are better candidates for capital improvements, while planning and mitigation projects come from the operating budget. According to one interviewee, unless it is mandated or considered a priority by city leaders, it can be difficult to get mitigation type projects funded because of the competition for operating funds. The benefit of grants is that they offer the chance for cities to test more innovative ideas and, as one interviewee mentioned, they provide a “cushion” for an initiative to get started. Once something is established it’s difficult to take away. In all, 7 of the 12 cities interviewed actively pursue grant funding. One of the reasons given for not pursuing grants was that they tend to require time to manage and it’s difficult to find the resources to do that. Others that tend not to pursue grants stated that it was just a preference to use city funds.


Cities that have been successful in obtaining funding for climate change projects clearly demonstrate the impacts of the projects. Economic resilience amongst other co-benefits such as jobs or monetary savings are emphasized. This was key to the success of Bridgeport, CT in obtaining $42 million for resilience projects as part of the National Disaster Resilience Competition (Resilient by Design, 2018). It was mentioned by those interviewed that it can be harder to find funding for mitigation projects; however, Stanford, CT was used as an example of what worked. In that city, the cost savings from an Energy Improvement District were used to start a revolving fund which, in turn, supported mitigation activities. Other interviewees mentioned the development of a revolving fund as a strategy as well, including Newark and Asheville. Other means mentioned were the establishment of an infrastructure tax; a penny sales tax; or green bonds. It was noted that bond funding would play a larger role in funding this work in the future. In the absence of funding for specific climate change projects, sustainability managers often look to projects that other departments are managing to help them meet their goals. The FEMA All Hazard Mitigation Planning Process was the most frequently mentioned plan used to incorporate resilience and adaptation work. Comprehensive or General Plans were also noted as being frequently used to push the sustainability agenda.


The value of networks and industry associations How cities use professional networks was assessed to gauge how investments in memberships, sponsorships or other partnerships support climate planning initiatives. It was found that professional networks can yield a great deal of value to city sustainability managers, but only if organized in the right way. The best guidance for sustainability or resilience managers tends to come from their peers in other cities with whom they can share stories with of successes or failures. The other benefits that cities receive from participating in professional networks include: •

Information and ideas from trusted source

Exposure to new innovations

Exposure to potential funding opportunities

A means to create awareness of the city’s activities

The ability to accelerate the learning curve of new and innovative approaches

Shared messaging and approaches to advocacy.

The peer-to-peer exchange of information was the most common response though when asked what the greatest value was in participating in different networks, with 9 of the 12 interviewees mentioning this. However, not all networks provide the same opportunities. The Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), Southeast Sustainability Directors Network (SESDN), and National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) were mentioned as particularly valuable. Interviewees noted that these organizations are effective because they are trusted and nimble. Other members also tend to be quick to respond to questions, and they provide various funding opportunities.




Findings The aim of this research was to understand more about how cities manage different climate planning activities and identify the most pressing challenges they face in addressing this issue. In conducting the interviews with city staff and reviewing the information gathered, several themes emerged. These are summarized here starting with the driver of these initiatives. Drivers of climate planning activities •

Understanding of the threat and risks – While experiencing extreme events creates a strong sense of urgency to address climate change, city leaders who understand the threats of climate change are the primary drivers of action.

Funding availability – Grants have played a significant role to date in supporting resilience and adaptation work and will continue to do so because of the need for innovation, additional capacity, steep learning curve that cities face. Along with grants, cities are looking more internally for funding trying to take advantage of capital improvement funds where possible.

Understanding the impacts of investment – clearly demonstrating the value or the return on the investment in these types of projects makes it easier to build support and receive funding.

Common practices for managing climate planning activities and projects •

Use of steering committees, advisory boards, and task forces – These are used to overcome coordination and communications challenges. The importance of holding in-person meetings was also stressed by several people. In addition, building support for these efforts as early as possible is also important is also helpful for overcoming possible resistance and advancing forward.

Budgeting - Overall it seems that adaptation projects are better candidates for capital improvements, while planning and mitigation projects come from the operating budget. As noted in the interviews, unless it is mandated or considered a priority by city leaders, it can be difficult to get mitigation-type projects funded because of the competition for operating funds.

Leveraging other city processes to advance climate initiatives – There are opportunities to leverage the work of other city departments to advance climate initiatives. The FEMA All Hazard Mitigation Planning Process was the most frequently mentioned plan to incorporate resilience and adaptation work into along with the Comprehensive or General Plans.

Key challenges that sustainability and resilience managers face in meeting their goals •

Communications – Cities need to be able scale up and scale down messaging to get everyone on the same page. Messaging needs to connect with the constituents. Emphasizing economic resilience amongst other co-benefits such as jobs or monetary savings helps. 20

Capacity building – Assessing the potential impacts of climate change on projects or services needs to become institutionalized as a regular step in a project planning process for any department (water, transportation, parks, economic development, etc.). Everyone, including utilities and industries that serve communities, also needs to have a common understanding and approach for addressing this issue.

Uncertainty about pathways to achieve climate commitments or goals – Mayoral commitments are aggressive and information is needed to understand technically feasible pathways as well as methods to achieve those goals. How to pay for them is also a question for many cities.

The city managers responsible for overseeing these efforts are very good facilitators and relationship builders. They understand the workings of their city as well as anyone, but they need access to information both internally from other department and from their peers in other cities working on similar issues or projects. Additionally, innovation is necessary to succeed, but it’s only useful when it fits within the local context. Considering this, some potential solutions for overcoming the challenges include: •

Climate action dialogues platform – One or a partnership of industry organizations are best to lead this. This could be modelled after the Obama Administration’s Resilience Dialogues Portal, but providing a managed information sharing platform is needed to tackle both financing and technical challenges.

Annual surveys of cities – An annual survey of cities and their progress towards meeting their climate goals will provide valuable information on the types of activities cities are planning as well as an understanding of what their needs and challenges are. In turn, disseminating the information back to cities so that they understand what others are doing will be valuable to the cities as well. CDP currently conducts a global survey as part of annual emissions reporting. This could be a strong basis for this type of information sharing.

Assessing and communicating project impacts – A standardized method of measuring impacts from climate change related projects will help in determining the effects projects are having and their value. The impacts can then be communicated through case studies or other reports and will make it easier to justify spending. Impact assessments should include community co-benefits as well as any monetary value (avoided losses or savings).




Action on Climate Today. (2015, December). Mitigation, adaptation, and resileince: climate terminology explained. Retrieved from Broward County Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division. (2017). Climate Resilience Update. Broward County. CDP. (2017). CDP Open Data Portal. Retrieved from Climate Mayors. (2017). Retrieved from Paris Climate Agreement: Innovation Network for Communities. (2017). Essential Capacities for Urban Adaptation and The Summit Foundation. Boston. NOAA. (2018). Sea Level Rise Viewer. Retrieved from Office of Coastal Management - Digital Coast: NOAA, N. C.-D. (2018). Retrieved from Nordgren, J., Stults, M., & Meerow, S. (2016). Supporting local climate change adaptation: Where we are and where. Environmental Science and Policy, 1 Resilient by Design. (2018). Resilient by Design. Retrieved from University, G. (2017). Adaptation Clearinghouse. Retrieved from


Pathways for Improving Climate Action  

An assessment of the common practices and needs in Eastern U.S. cities - white paper

Pathways for Improving Climate Action  

An assessment of the common practices and needs in Eastern U.S. cities - white paper