Before You Begin - Foundations of the Practitioner's Guide
This guidebook offers a set of procedures to accompany each phase of the Climate Resilience Toolkit's Steps to Resilience.

Before You Begin (Foundations)

This section provides foundational information to consider before beginning your resilience journey. Watch the whole video, or browse the content by section below. Click any section title to jump directly to that content in the video. 

Mark Wilbert & Matt Hutchins
45 minutes
What is the Practitioner's Guide?
(10 minutes)

Implementing the Steps to Resilience: A Practitioner's Guide is a user-friendly report containing a set of procedures to accompany each phase of the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit’s Steps to Resilience (StR). This document aims to support climate adaptation practitioners develop and implement equity-centered climate resilience plans in their communities.

An Overview of the Steps to Resilience
(3 minutes)

The Steps to Resilience framework describes an iterative process to identify and address one's most pressing climate-related vulnerabilities and risk. 

Following the Steps, groups compile a list of the things they care about (e.g., people, ecosystems, and economies) and evaluate which climate-related impacts could harm them. They assess which of their assets are vulnerable and at risk, investigate possible solutions, and make plans to address their greatest concerns. The framework also helps people recognize potential opportunities presented by changing climate conditions.

What is Climate Resilience?
(2.5 minutes)

Resilience is the capacity of a community, business, or natural environment to prevent, withstand, respond to, and recover from a disruption. Climate resilience refers to situations where the disruptions are related to climate. These include events such as extreme weather, drought, and flooding. Efforts to build climate resilience are increasingly seen as opportunities to prepare for changing climate conditions, reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, and address issues of social equity. Building resilience means improving conditions so that the system can accommodate future disruptions.

Graphs showing functional capacity over time for two levels of resilience

These graphs illustrate two levels of resilience. On the left, a community asset or service operates at a steady state (business as usual) until an acute hazard occurs. If the level of service drops below a tipping point, the system attempts to recover, but experiences a permanent loss. On the right, actions taken to improve overall conditions prior to an acute hazard increase the system's functional level. From this higher baseline, the same acute hazard still requires a period of recovery, but no irreversible damage occurs. Building resilience means improving conditions so that the system can accommodate future disruptions.

What is climate adaptation practitioner?
(7 minutes)

Climate service provision must greatly accelerate in order for resilience to keep pace with climate challenges. This guide targets a narrow audience, namely climate adaptation practitioners who are working with local governments, non-profits, and communities that are ready and willing to use climate information to support decision making and that aim to create greater social equity in the process. Practitioners may come from the private and public sectors, academia, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit businesses. To be effective using this guide, practitioners must draw on a variety of skills and educational backgrounds.

Community and Government Capacity
(1 minute)

To successfully implement a resilience plan, communities need capacity over the long term. Project implementation, monitoring and evaluation, community engagement about hazards and opportunities, ensuring that all relevant government operations incorporate up-to-date information about climate-related impacts, and sharing lessons learned with other practitioners all require staff with expertise and time to follow through. 

Equity in Climate Resilience Planning
(1.5 minutes)

Equity in climate resilience implies race, class, ability or other social characteristics do not determine preparedness for the impacts of climate variability and change. 

A practitioner may employ the following five principles in efforts toward meaningfully incorporating equity in all phases of planning and implementation of climate resilience:

  • Focus on root causes and community strengths
  • Balance power dynamics
  • Foster a sense of belonging
  • Apply a place-based approach
  • Evolve with the process


The Practitioner's Guide is formatted to follow the Steps to Resilience framework, with each chapter corresponding to a specific “step.” Each step is introduced with objectives, a list of resources (such as worksheets and other guidance), opportunities for community participation, and questions for assessing success. The bulk of this material is presented as “in practice” guidance. Context and guidance are provided for each objective of each step. Each step will include an implementation example.

Implementing the Steps to Resilience | A Practitioner's Guide

Implementing the Steps to Resilience | A Practitioner's Guide
Mark Wilbert & Matt Hutchins
6 Sections
45 minutes
Foundational information to consider before you begin your resilience journey.
Matt Hutchins (Fernleaf)
6 Sections
25 minutes
Coordinate with the community champions to assemble a planning team and establish goals for the project.
Jim Fox, Aashka Patel, Kim Rhodes (Fernleaf)
5 Sections
1 hour
Evaluate community assets and their exposure to climate-related hazards.
Matt Hutchins (Fernleaf)
6 Sections
35 minutes
Evaluate the vulnerability of community assets by enumerating qualities of sensitivity and adaptive capacity.
Jim Fox (Fernleaf), Karin Rogers (NEMAC)
6 Sections
78 minutes
List options to reduce the greatest climate-related vulnerabilities and risks to vulnerable populations and community assets.
Jim Fox (Fernleaf)
5 Sections
81 minutes
Design an implementation plan for the strategies that are mostly likely to reduce vulnerability and risk.
Jim Fox and Mark Wilbert (Fernleaf)
4 Sections
66 minutes
Implement and communicate the plan. Identify funding sources. Monitor. Iterate.