Posts By: Rachel Jacobson

Mentorship Spotlight: The Power of Long-Term Planning

Mentee Nathan Stinnette is a sustainability consultant and project manager with Reynolds, Smith & Hills Inc., based in Jacksonville, Florida. Within the RS&H environmental and sustainability group, he consults on  projects related to sustainability planning, climate change and adaptation, resource efficiencies, waste minimization, environmental management systems, NEPA, and environmental compliance. Nathan joined ASAP and the mentorship program to develop adaptation planning skills that will help him better serve clients.

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Mentorship Spotlight: The Value of Social Strategies

Mentee Lindsay Ross is a Senior Analyst on the client services team at Four Twenty Seven, where she helps clients, including multilateral development banks, real estate investment trusts, asset managers, and asset owners, understand the economic and financial impacts of physical climate change. Previously she worked for the U.S. International Trade Commission, assisting with macroeconomic research on the impacts of international trade on the U.S. economy. Lindsay studied at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, focusing on energy, resources, and the environment, as well as international finance and economics.

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Mentorship Spotlight: Community-Driven Adaptation

Mentee Sierra Gladfelter recently began working as a Project Manager at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Engagement & Negotiation (IEN), coordinating the Resilience Adaptation Feasibility Tool, a one-year community-driven resilience planning process for seven localities on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Prior to this, as the recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and a Fulbright-Nehru Student Research Fellowship, Sierra spent five years doing applied research on climate change impacts on vulnerable communities in Nepal, Zambia, and India. She specifically examined the extent to which development interventions are able to assist these communities in coping with climate-exacerbated floods and droughts. Sierra holds a Master’s Degree in Geography and a Certificate in Development Studies from the University of Colorado Boulder, and lives in Charlottesville, VA.

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The Future of Climate Migration: Evolving Cultural Norms Through Relationship-Building

This past weekend, neither widespread ICE raids nor one-time hurricane (now tropical storm) Barry wreaked the level of havoc newscasters predicted they would. However, these specific threats still exist, as do the conditions that have enabled them, displaying the complex, interconnected experiences of human migration and environmental change.

Mentorship Spotlight: Building Resilience Locally

Mentee Libby Szuflita is a Master’s student in City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializing in transportation planning with a Natural Hazards Resilience Certificate. Her research focus is on growth projections in long-range transportation planning, particularly how large transportation infrastructure projects impact land use decisions and how resilience can be prioritized in these decisions. Prior to graduate school, she worked for a sustainable transportation advocacy non-profit in New York City. She has a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Sociology from Bowdoin College.

Mentor Michael Dexter is a climate risk and resilience expert and Certified Floodplain Manager. He works as the Finance and Grants Manager for the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, where he supports local, state, and federal efforts to protect and restore the water quality and ecological integrity for one of the 28 estuaries of national significance. Previously, he worked in the EPA Administrators Office, coordinating climate adaptation planning and environmental financing efforts that support federal, state, tribal, and local efforts to adapt to climate change. He has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Columbia University and currently resides in Sarasota, Florida.

Through her mentorship with Michael, Libby has learned about the important role that local government plays in building resilience on the ground. “Michael has shared how local transportation and public works departments oftentimes have the most direct experience managing the consequences of poor planning for hazards, and play an important role in advocating for adaptation,” she said. “I can bring lessons of adaptation to any future role I have, whether it has ‘resilience’ in the title or not.” Libby has appreciated learning about adaptation career opportunities across the US, as Michael has worked in Washington, D.C., New York, Seattle, and Sarasota.

Michael and Libby have also taken a closer look at the process behind EPA grant funding for resilience work. Specifically, they have discussed how block grants have unique potential to be utilized for environmental programs that incorporate climate change adaptation. Tribal governments have been notably innovative in leveraging EPA grants for adaptation. In their next meeting, Michael and Libby will investigate how the word “adaptation” is applied in varying contexts, and how to take action in the name of adaptation in the most productive way.

Michael has enjoyed learning about Libby’s interests in transportation and adaptation, and how these interests were fostered through her coursework and education. “Hearing how climate adaptation is being covered in undergrad and graduate programs gives hope for the continued mainstreaming of adaptation as a defined field of research within multiple disciplines,” he said.

Thanks to both for sharing what they’ve learned!

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Review Announcement: Knowledge and Competencies Framework for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Professionals

The ASAP Member Advisory Group on Professional Education is pleased to request your feedback on a Draft Knowledge and Competencies Framework for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Professionals. Please review the framework carefully and navigate to this form to submit your feedback. Deadline to submit feedback is June 30 at 11:59PM Pacific Time.

Please email Rachel Jacobson with any questions or problems.


Framework Purpose and Applications: The purpose of this framework is to articulate a standard set of foundational knowledge concepts and core competencies that are relevant, and necessary, for all climate change adaptation professionals. The intended users for this framework are climate change adaptation and resilience education providers, climate change adaptation and resilience professionals and students, and other professionals whose role requires they address climate challenges. This framework provides a complete view of the knowledge and competencies needed to ensure that existing professionals, students, and learners of all types are prepared to effectively address climate change adaptation and resilience in the context of their work. In the near term, ASAP intends to use this framework to chart pathways through existing professional education resources so that climate adaptation and resilience professionals seeking to gain knowledge or competencies can easily identify relevant resources. In the longer term, ideally within the next 1-3 years, ASAP intends to use this framework, in conjunction with the ASAP Code of Ethics and the ASAP Living Guide to the Principles of Climate Change Adaptation, as the foundation for offering accreditation to climate change adaptation and resilience education courses and programs.

Framework Design Features: This framework is meant to be customizable to any field, discipline, or professional role that intersects with climate change adaptation and resilience, at any career phase. Supplementary content features a glossary of terms and will eventually include graphics to illustrate connections between the concepts.

Framework Development Process: This framework was produced through review and synthesis of many training and certificate program concepts, higher education syllabi, and on-demand professional education course outlines for climate change adaptation and resilience and related fields. The source material synthesis was followed by intensive discussion, iteration, and further development by a dedicated subgroup of Member Advisory Group participants:

The framework also benefited from review by the rest of the Member Advisory Group participants:

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Mentorship Spotlight: Turning Momentum into Action

Mentee Amy Henry is a planner for Kimley-Horn, where she has worked for about four years, and has a multidisciplinary background, including consulting experience in environmental science and a Bachelor of Arts in English. She specializes in crafting narratives and telling the story, through maps, text, and graphics, to present complex technical ideas to non-technical audiences. As a Certified Floodplain Manager and soon-to-be AICP professional, she is particularly interested in the intersection of community planning and resilience to climate impacts such as flooding, extreme storm events, and acute and chronic stressors to infrastructure and vulnerable populations.

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Mentorship Spotlight: Starting a Career in Adaptation

Mentee Kimberly Duong is a Ph.D. candidate in Civil Engineering (water resources) at UC Irvine, working on urban drought management in southern California in collaboration with the Irvine Ranch Water District. She has a B.S. from UCLA in Atmospheric Sciences (meteorology). In past years, she has been involved with the Solar Decathlon, Carbon Neutrality Initiative, and the UCI Climate Action Training Program. She is also a co-founder and executive board member of Climatepedia, a climate communications nonprofit. In 2018, she was a Mirzayan science policy fellow at the National Academies in Washington DC, as well as a Subject Matter Expert for the Resilience Dialogues. From April 2018 to April 2019 she served as part of Voices for Science, a science advocacy program hosted by the American Geophysical Union. She will graduate with her Ph.D. in September 2019 and is seeking employment in water management/climate change policy.

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Mentorship Spotlight: The Frontlines of Resilience Storytelling

Alex Basaraba works at the interstice of environmental conservation, climate change, and human well-being using visual story-telling, research, and planning. Currently, he works as a climate resilience specialist with Adaptation International, a consulting firm focused on helping communities and organizations prepare for the impacts of climate change. Adaptation International specializes in bridging the gap between climate science and community action and invests in developing tools and strategies necessary to support climate change preparedness. In addition to pursuing his own climate and environmentally-focused storytelling projects, Alex works in Nepal as an educator with National Geographic Expeditions. He holds a Master’s in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and a Bachelor’s in Biology, both from Colorado State University.

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Can People Cultivate More Urgency Than Dollars?

Contributed by Rachel Jacobson, ASAP Senior Program Manager

In September, I was haunted for days by this New York Times story about Casey Dailey’s death during Hurricane Harvey. Today, as I mourn the losses of the 63 people killed so far in the Camp Fire, I brace for notifications of additional “direct” deaths and for information about the hundreds more whose deaths may be “indirectly” attributable to this disaster. I grapple with understanding these losses, especially the “indirect deaths”, in the context of my role as an adaptation professional: to be able to articulate why they happened, how climate change is to blame, and what I can do to decrease the number of losses projected for the years ahead.

Personally, my motivation as an adaptation professional is to reduce lives lost from climate change. It’s incumbent upon me, and all of us, to ask ourselves how each of the strategies we use in our work affects how we achieve that goal. ASAP’s Values and Beliefs, elaborated through the Code of Ethics and Living Guide, implore us to be systems thinkers and apply co-benefits. Twelve years ago, the Stern Report made a compelling economic case for action. Last month’s IPCC report put our failure to act, and perhaps with it the failure of the economic case, in sharp relief, giving us just twelve more years to leap forward. And yet we continue to refine our methodology for evaluating the economic benefits of climate action and the costs of inaction.  

But we must think beyond economic costs. As fires continue to ravage California and hurricane season comes to a close, we are approaching a reckoning with 2018’s climate change death toll. As a cross-sector community of practice, we are uniquely positioned to strengthen responsive professional capacity and reduce harm by sharing lessons learned and staying connected. Public health professionals turned the world’s attention back to the deaths caused by Hurricane Maria, using proven methodology for calculating excess mortality and outlining a research agenda for how to adapt those methodologies to the demands of climate-related disasters.

We must strive to build an accountability framework that significantly reduces loss of life. The field of public health consistently sounds the alarm about how climate change is impacting determinants of health such as clean air, water, food, and shelter. I ask those ASAP members who are part of both the climate adaptation and public health communities to step forward and help us integrate best practices for determining and communicating the human cost of climate change. We must bring the strengths from each of these communities of practice to bear and build capacity together.

Here are a few places to find public health and climate adaptation at the intersection:

The Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative has 5 Quick Guides on Climate Change & Public Health. For those at the American Public Health Association (APHA)  conference this week, here is a list of climate change related sessions. Read this article from the APHA newswire on Accessing environmental health services: ‘This is community engagement 101’ and learn more about an environment and public health collaboration with the American Planning Association called Plans4Health. You can also attend the Health and Environmental Funders Network 2018 Annual Meeting on Environmental Health and Justice Majority: Raising Voices, Building Power, taking place in Pittsburgh November 28-30, 2018.

Read our full newsletter from November 16, 2018

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