Resilience refers to the ability of a system to recover from or adjust to misfortune or change. More formally, 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 or extreme weather.
Community efforts to build climate resilience are increasingly seen as opportunities to prepare for new climate conditions, reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, and address issues of social equity.
Success stories in using the Steps to Resilience Framework
The Steps to Resilience framework has been applied at scales as small as community neighborhoods and as large as entire states. These reports illustrate how the framework was used at various scales:
Several other cities follow the Steps to Resilience framework to produce and update their Climate Action Plans. For examples, see Case Studies featuring Asheville, North Carolina and Blacksburg, Virginia, or explore the Toolkit's full collection of case studies that describe how businesses, communities, and regional groups across the nation are using the framework to build resilience.
The Steps Are Iterative
Though the steps are numbered from 1 through 5, communities are never really done building resilience to a changing climate. Groups may need to return to previous steps repeatedly to consider new hazards and changing vulnerabilities, even as they take steps to build resilience and reduce risk.
Who is the Primary Audience for the Steps to Resilience framework?
Community champions—committed leaders who know how to get things done through their local government—can use the steps to guide their process. With their detailed local knowledge, champions can use the steps as an outline to decide on a project's scope, develop lists of the people and groups who need to be involved, and decide what outcomes to drive toward at different points in the process.
Adaptation practitioners—those who are working to identify and enact actions that help us adapt to new climate conditions—can also use the framework. They will want to focus on the finer points of building resilience through actions that can increase adaptive capacity or reduce exposure and sensitivity.
Community members can also read and consider the framework to develop a sense of how a resilience-building process might work in their own community.
What's your starting point?
Groups begin considering climate resilience for several different reasons:
Are you confronting a weather or climate-related problem?
Most communities across the United States have some awareness of the extreme weather or climate-related hazards they could experience. If you're already aware of a hazard that could result in damages or loss in your community, you'll make a list of the people, places, and services that are exposed to that hazard. Later, you'll explore additional hazards that could affect those assets.
Are you trying to protect something you care about?
People often form communities around an asset they want to protect. For example, dozens of business owners might join a "Downtown Association" to promote and protect their shops. Outdoor recreation enthusiasts, wildlife conservationists, and sportsmen might join together to form a "Friends of the River" group. Asset-centered groups can further their common goals by exploring the weather and climate-related hazards that could impact the asset they care about.
Are you creating or updating an official planning document?
In order to be eligible for federal and state programs, municipalities, counties, and states are required to prepare and submit regular updates to official planning documents such as Hazard Mitigation Plans. Leveraging community engagements required for these updates to add climate considerations to planning documents is an efficient way to move plans forward and integrate climate resilience into future plans.