Topic: News

Norfolk Special Service District Policy for Flood Protection

In June 2019, the Norfolk City Council adopted a policy authorizing the creation of Special Service Districts (SSD) to support implementation of local flood risk reduction and water quality improvement projects in the City of Norfolk, Virginia. SSDs enable a group of residents to agree to pay a tax to finance additional services in a particular neighborhood. The Norfolk policy allows SSD funding to be used to pay for flood mitigation, dredging, water quality improvements, and coastal protection projects.

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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Maine Act to Help Municipalities Prepare for Sea Level Rise (LD 563)

Maine Governor Janet Mills signed into law LD 563, “An Act to Help Municipalities Prepare for Sea Level Rise” in May 2019. The law amends the State’s growth management and local land-use planning requirements (at Title 30-A, Chapter 187 of the Maine Code) to address the effects of sea-level rise. It allows coastal municipalities and “multimunicipal” regions including coastal municipalities to consider sea level rise projections and potential effects on buildings, transportation infrastructure, sewage treatment facilities, and other municipal or private facilities.

Southeast Sustainable Communities Fund

The Southeast Sustainable Communities Fund (SSCF) supports local communities in the southeastern United States to advance climate adaptation and social equity in local government policy, plans or programs. Grants have been awarded to City and County governments and local partnerships to create socially equitable sustainable energy and/or water initiatives. The fund invested $1.5 million in 2017 for six projects, and has allocated nearly $1.8 million in 2018 in support of six more sustainability projects in the Southeast that are addressing climate change impacts. The SSCF 2019 funding opportunity is open – offering five to seven grants of approximately $75,000 to $150,000 per year for two years. Letters of Intent are due by June 24, 2019.

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Maycroft Apartments “Resiliency Room” in Affordable Housing Complex in Washington, DC

A non-profit affordable housing developer, Jubilee Housing, is working to incorporate a “resiliency room” and increase affordable housing by renovating the historic Maycroft Apartments in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D. C.  – an area of the District that has been experiencing rapid gentrification. The project will provide affordable housing and will renovate the complex’s basement into a resiliency room to provide both emergency and everyday services for residents.

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The Sanctuary of Nature

Contributed by Lily Swanbrow Becker, ASAP Network Manager

Last September, brought face-to-face with the ephemeral beauty of a ghost orchid while waist-deep in the cold, inky waters of a swamp inside Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, I experienced deep connection to nature.  But even as a natural resource-focused adaptation professional and proud Floridian, the state known for its prehistoric reptiles and wild places, those moments are few and far between. This week in the UN biodiversity report, we read that humans have significantly altered three quarters of the landscape and 66 percent of the seascape, threatening 1,000,000 species with extinction in the coming decades.  The report is sobering in its scale, scope and certainty, but sadly its conclusions are not unexpected.  The collective understanding that humans have altered Earth’s natural systems in profound ways began to sink in well before the concept of the Anthropocene was introduced almost 20 years ago.  We knew it then and we see it now, every time we step outside.

For adaptation professionals, the deepest significance of the report may not be its comprehensiveness on the state of biodiversity on Earth, but rather that it nails down “how closely human well-being is intertwined with the fate of other species.”  This is a fact that scientists have struggled to meaningfully communicate to the broader adaptation field over the past decade.  The UN biodiversity report represents a strong step in this direction, following a trend of increased efforts to translate and quantify the value of ecosystem services in more human-centric terms.

These ecosystem services comprise  some of the best adaptation strategies we can bring to bear on climate change.  Coral reefs provide the United States with $1.8 billion in annual flood protection benefits.  Mangroves sequester carbon, thrive in brackish waters and provide suburb shoreline stabilization as sea levels rise.  As adaptation professionals always striving for innovation, we have to be humbled by the solutions nature offers up.  Reflecting on 18 ways nature helps humans (including food, medicine, energy generation, inspiration etc) as plainly laid out in the report may have been the tipping point we needed to finally and truly get it: humans and nature are inextricably connected.

Of course at ASAP, we already get it.  As with nature, the strength of our network is deeply rooted in connection.  Still, as we struggle together towards adapting to a future threatened by climate change, it is easy to feel we must prioritize threats based on urgency.  While making difficult choices about where to direct our limited capacity is necessary at times, we must not forget our charge to be systems thinkers and strive to increase connections, as elaborated on in the Living Guide.  In this case, it is not a matter of choosing whether to prioritize human health over ecological health but of reaching the understanding that the choice has never really existed in the first place – we are one system.

News of the biodiversity report greeted me on Monday morning, just as I was beginning my first full week as Network Manager at ASAP.  The grim and frightening warnings aside, I’ve found a thread of hope this week in some of what the report offers and in my choice to embark on this new role.  For example, I am grateful for the emphasis the report places on the need to learn from “the knowledge, innovations and practices, institutions and values of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities,” acknowledging that global trends of ecosystem decline are generally less severe or absent on lands managed by Indigenous Peoples.  The report concludes that “transformative change” is needed to slow or reverse the trajectory biodiversity is on. Seeking to learn from Indigenous Peoples, as Jem Bendell describes with the concept of “radical hope,” may be one way to strive for this transformative change.

The report also ranks the driving forces of human influence on nature in descending order as land use change, direct exploitation of species, climate change, pollution and invasive species.  This type of comparison is a highly relevant policy tool and a conversation I engaged in often during my time working on adaptation for fish and wildlife for Florida state government. Asking for example, is increased sea level rise or the projection of 15 million new residents by 2070 a more urgent threat to state conservation lands?   But I would argue that this type of question cannot really be answered.  

We must explore ways of finding connection wherever possible, acknowledging, for example, that land use change and climate change will interact in compounding ways on a future landscape.  Working in a realm where climate change interacts with and magnifies other threats in a complex web touching all facets of society is one of the greatest challenges adaptation professionals must rise to.  But it is a challenge I see us stepping up to meet with increased vigor and a challenge ASAP is perfectly positioned to support. While my personal motivation for a career in climate adaptation is deep reverence for nature, I am thrilled to have the honor of supporting a network built from the strength of its connections across the broad span of the adaptation field.  I look forward to continuing to weave these connections with all of you.

Based in Tallahassee, Florida, Lily Swanbrow Becker joins the ASAP team as our new Network Manager. Lily will facilitate member connectivity and value creation across the ASAP network through support of peer-learning opportunities including the ASAP Member-Led Interest Groups, Regional Hubs and more. Lily brings many years of experience in climate adaptation, natural resources conservation, facilitation and professional development. You can contact Lily at [email protected].

Resilient DC – A Strategy to Thrive in the Face of Change

In April 2019, Washington D. C. released its Resilient DC Plan as part of its participation in the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) initiative. The Resilient DC plan presents strategies to help the District address three-main drivers of change: economic and population growth, climate change, and technological transformations.  It is designed to help the District manage threats from extreme natural and manmade disasters (including extreme heat, flooding, infrastructure failure, and terrorist or cyber attacks) and reduce chronic stressors that challenge the city on an everyday basis (including lack of affordable housing, economic inequality, educational opportunity gaps, and aging infrastructure).

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NAACP’s Our Communities, Out Power: Advancing Resistance and Resilience in Climate Change Adaptation – Action Toolkit

From the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), this comprehensive Toolkit provides a series of modules to help NAACP chapters and other advocates mediate climate adaptation planning processes and ensure that adaptation plans and policies meet local needs, with a focus on frontline communities, environmental and climate justice, and equity. The Toolkit provides guidance to help community groups and advocates develop an Environmental and Climate Justice (ECJ) Committee to inform adaptation planning and policy through 19 different Modules.

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NAACP – Our Communities, Our Power: Advancing Resistance and Resilience in Climate Change Adaptation – Action Toolkit

From the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), this comprehensive Toolkit provides a series of modules to help NAACP chapters and other advocates mediate climate adaptation planning processes and ensure that adaptation plans and policies meet local needs, while focusing on frontline communities, environmental and climate justice, and equity. The Toolkit provides guidance to help community groups and advocates develop an Environmental and Climate Justice (ECJ) Committee to inform adaptation planning and policy through 19 different Modules.

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Managing Risks to Conservation Investments Through Climate Adaptation

The Wildlife Conservation Society partnered with the Climate Resilience Fund to offer this guidance for investors funding conservation projects – such as private foundations, public agencies and local governments – on how to consider climate change risks inherent in their investments. Climate change is causing dramatic and unpredictable effects on ecosystems and natural resources – creating uncertainties for conservation funding decision making and the future outcome of investments. This guidance for conservation investors supports intentionality in anticipating and assessing climate change risks, which in turn safeguards these investments to advance conservation goals.

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