Supporting local climate change adaptation: Where we are and where we need to go

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Nordgren, John, Missy Stults, and Sara Meerow
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Local governments are on the front line of efforts to address climate-related impacts. Recognizing this, there is a growing movement to develop and deliver tools, resources, and services to support local communities’ climate adaptation initiatives. There is, however, limited understanding of what specific types of resources exist and how well these resources match the needs of local practitioners. To bring clarity to these questions, we: 1) assessed the current landscape of climate-adaptation resources and services; 2) surveyed community practitioners to learn how well these resources align with their needs; and 3) convened leading service providers and local practitioners to identify strategic opportunities for moving the adaptation field forward. Findings demonstrate that existing services and resources are meeting the early phases of local adaptation efforts such as conducting vulnerability assessments and creating adaptation plans, but are failing to meet the needs associated with implementing, monitoring, and evaluating adaptation activities. Additionally, a lack of funding and staff time to support adaptation, as well as inaccessible resource formats are barriers impeding local climate adaptation efforts. The mismatch between the types and formats of services being provided and the needs of local governments means that more work is needed to ensure that climate adaptation resources are responsive to the existing and future needs of local governments. Moreover, our research finds that there is a strong and growing need to organize and streamline the climate adaptation resource and service landscape so that practitioners can easily, effectively, and efficiently access the resources they need to build more resilient local communities.


Nordgren, John, Missy Stults, and Sara Meerow. 2016. “Supporting Local Climate Change Adaptation: Where We Are and Where We Need to Go.” Environmental Science & Policy 66 (December): 344–52. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2016.05.006.