Geos Institute helps communities build resilience in the face of climate change

Advising FEMA on what communities need to build climate resilience

Last week, I participated in my second meeting of the Climate Resilience Subcommittee of FEMA’s National Advisory Committee. While advising a massive bureaucracy like FEMA may seem like pure drudgery, I left the meeting energized.

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FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) oversees disaster preparation and response in all US states and territories. It’s a big job – one where they must continuously balance dealing with emergencies in real time with helping states and communities reduce future disasters.

I am joined on the National Advisory Committee (NAC) by 35 other people from across the nation who represent local, state, and for-profit and non-profit organizations and have some connection to FEMA’s mission. We are each assigned to one of three subcommittees that align with the pillars of FEMA’s strategic plan: Workforce, Readiness, and Climate Resilience. Some members are also assigned to a cross-issue Equity Working Group.

It’s our job to help FEMA implement its strategic plan and for the first time, climate resilience is a primary focus of their work. We are on the ground floor of helping FEMA take a much larger leadership role in helping build a climate resilient nation. And that’s a very good thing because FEMA is a massive institution with established relationships at all levels of government.

Because the Climate Resilience Subcommittee is new, Administrator Deanne Criswell and Deputy Administrator Erik Hooks joined the meeting to talk through the specifics of what they need from us. They are inspired to build a climate resilient nation – one that doesn’t leave poorer and smaller communities behind – and it shows. They recognize the areas that need strengthening and are open to our ideas. It is a wonderfully refreshing change from the previous administration. I can’t wait to dig in.

Our Climate Resilience Subcommittee will meet every two weeks between now and June when the entire NAC meets in Oklahoma to share initial insights. Then we will return home and keep working until we reconvene in November in DC with our full recommendations to Administrator Criswell.

I look forward to reporting back later this year, but in the meantime, I’m honored to have been chosen to serve with such an incredible group of advisors.

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