By Sarah Brylinsky, Director of Climate Resilience & Educational Programs
Join Second Nature at the 14th National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) Conference "Building Climate Solutions", in Washington D.C., January 28th-30th.
Visit the conference website to register or find out more about this unique and action-oriented event, and be sure to join us for a symposium and breakout workshop to develop an action-plan for supporting resilience efforts in higher education.
Preparing Campuses and Communities for a Changing Climate
2014 NCSE Workshop, Second Nature
Higher education has already taken a successful leadership role in climate mitigation through the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), with nearly 700 campus committed to achieving climate neutrality (not net carbon emissions).
Campuses must now take the lead in climate adaptation —preparing for and responding to the current and future impacts of climate change, working specifically to identify vulnerabilities and opportunities in tandem with their surrounding communities.
This session will explore how institutions committed to accelerating risk-assessment and resilience implementation can collaborate through the Higher Education Alliance for Climate Resilience. The Alliance will assist campuses in sharing best practices for the incorporation of long-term community-based adaptation and resilience research, hands-on living laboratory experiences for students to help implement adaptation within campus infrastructure, and provide all campus and community members with participatory learning opportunities for adaptation planning and implementation.
Participants in the session will assist in review and prioritization of efforts needed to broadly implement the Alliance concept including development of a vulnerability assessment framework, reporting and best-practice strategies, regional hub development, and strategies for adaptable information design and sharing.
Particular emphasis will be paid to forging community partnerships with existing adaptation initiatives and relevant stakeholders, and assessing and preparing for the needs of vulnerable and under-resourced communities and institutions. While city-adaptation planning efforts are underway in a number of communities across the United States, little has been done to link these existing commitments to the local educational institutions.
Higher education institutions can play a critical role in fostering an intellectual and action-focused leadership resource for their communities. The leadership challenge for these institutions will be to ensure the viability and resilience of their own communities, and prepare tomorrow’s leaders to implement adaptation solutions across the nation.
- Identify core potential for higher education to provide comprehensive climate impact (and climate response) education to both students and the campus community.
- Identify and prioritize components for a flexible vulnerability assessment framework, including financial, socio-economic, infrastructure, educational, human safety & productivity, staff capacity, and ecological vulnerabilities.
- Identify necessary partnerships across academic disciplines and administrative departments, and within the campus’s regional communities, with a particular emphasis on engaging senior leadership in support and decision-making processes.
- Identify and strengthen city and community adaptation initiatives, organizations, tools, and resources which can be incorporated, modeled, or adapted for the higher education alliance.
- Build meaningful support for (and program attunement to the needs of) vulnerable communities and under-resourced institutions, including tribal communities and colleges, minority-serving institutions, and institutions located in low-income / geographically high-risk communities.
- Define the parameters of success and long-term implementation of resilience efforts, balancing indicators for risk, disaster, and vulnerability-reduction with social resiliency, regional economies, and creative solutions generation.
Create clear linkages between resilient practices on campus and an educational foundation for students that include adaptation and resilience as core components of a sustainability and/or Earth science curriculum.
Products and follow up activities:
Active program growth-plan aligned with “regional hubs” which has identified:
- key action areas for refinement or inclusion in the alliance,
- new partnerships and alliances for community/campus success, and
- a strategy for continued engagement for participants in the alliance and related projects.
- Launch of the proposed adaptation alliance, including regional hubs, the national network, and individual campus-community allegiances - will be strengthened and expanded during the formative growth of the program