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

From a climate services bureau to a Climate Ready America

As COP 26 unfolded, we were reminded how important climate work is at ALL levels of government. From international treaties to local government policies, there is much to be done and precious little time to do it.

While it’s clear that all U.S. communities need to be doing their climate work, too many can’t get the help they need because they are too small, too poor, or blocked by a state government that doesn’t support climate action. This needs to change so that all communities, no matter their location, size, or affluence, can get the help they need to take effective climate action. Local action is necessary if we are to meet our national climate targets.

We have been working at the Geos Institute to develop a nationwide system of climate support services to serve these communities since 2015. From 2015-2018, we co-led an effort to create a “climate adaptation service bureau” to help local leaders identify climate vulnerabilities and implement solutions. That effort spawned several important tools and concepts in the field, which are now coming to fruition.

Since last fall, we have been focused on building the partnerships needed to create a system of climate resilience services. This system would help communities address both the causes and impacts of the climate crisis, an expansion of the earlier service bureau idea to include reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Earlier this year I shared a concept paper with you outlining a concept we call “Climate Ready America”, developed with the help of other leaders in the climate resilience field. After releasing that concept paper, we convened climate resilience leaders and developed ten principles for such a system, which we released in September. Taking advantage of this moment in time, we and our partners have been sharing that statement with the federal government, along with an offer of assistance to help build it.

The conversation about climate services and how to support local government doing their climate work is heating up in Washington D.C. and what we’re hearing sounds very much like what we have been advocating for all these years.

At the same time, we have researched all fifty states and are reaching out to those who are uniquely positioned to be pilot states in the Climate Ready America program. The Geos Institute may not be a very large organization, but our size makes us nimble and we are finding much larger organizations ready to partner and get behind the idea of Climate Ready America.

While local government action alone is not sufficient to address the climate crisis, it is absolutely necessary if we are to meet the challenge of the climate crisis successfully. Climate Ready America is a concept whose time has come, and I am so thrilled to see the pieces coming together after all these years.

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