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Resilience Dialogues

United States

Featured image for the project, Resilience Dialogues


The Resilience Dialogues is a public-private collaboration that works to build climate-resilient communities through facilitated dialogues among scientists, practitioners, and community leaders.

Since 2016, 18 communities have participated in the Resilience Dialogues:


  • Coral Gables, FL
  • Dubuque, IA
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) / Kansas City Metro Area




Communities of all types – towns, cities, tribal nations, regional compacts, and more – face risks from climate variability and change, including changing patterns of extreme weather events, shifting growing seasons, more river and coastal flooding, less available water, and greater exposure to wildfires. They want and need to learn how to reduce these risks and build community resilience – to prepare for and recover from these stresses, minimize disruptions to daily life, and even reorganize to thrive in the face of changing conditions. A wealth of scientific information, data, and tools exists that could help manage these risks and integrate climate variability and change into a broad range of planning, engagement, and decision-making activities. However, many communities are often uncertain how to begin, what this information means for them, and where to turn for trustworthy advice. Smaller, isolated, or historically underserved communities especially want personalized technical assistance and to connect with experts who could help them understand their vulnerabilities and what future resilience might look like where they live.

To help meet this growing need, the Resilience Dialogues uses a professionally facilitated, online process to connect community leaders to a network of vetted national experts and helps them work together to understand risks and lay the groundwork for long-term resilience. These online discussions can clarify local risks and opportunities, share strategies that have worked in other communities, identify the most relevant and useful data, tools, and networks, and build shared commitment to future plans and actions.

The Resilience Dialogues is flexible enough to assist:

  • Local governments assessing vulnerability in their communities while promoting economic growth
  • Community organizations seeking to engage diverse voices in resilience planning
  • County managers looking for in-depth consultation on a focused topic
  • Urban planners seeking appropriate resources to plan for resilience
  • Private sector stakeholders working to safeguard long-term infrastructure investments
  • Public health professionals examining health risks from weather and climate extremes

Regardless of how the conversation starts, the Resilience Dialogues process ultimately aims to include the full fabric of the community.


Communities leave the Resilience Dialogues with a synthesis report that summarizes the key vulnerabilities, opportunities and resources for climate resilience planning identified. In addition, local governments develop:

  • A set of well-articulated questions about their community’s vulnerabilities and threats to address in assessment and planning effort
  • An expert-vetted, evidence-based, community-specific list of climate vulnerabilities and opportunities that can be used to anchor resilience and adaptation planning
  • Connections to a large and vetted network of climate science, adaptation, and resilience experts
  • A community-centered, expert-reviewed compilation of tools and resources that can facilitate next steps toward the development of holistic resilience plans (i.e. of all the tools, resources and datasets out there, which are most appropriate for addressing your community’s questions, opportunities, and vulnerabilities)
  • Strategies for to engaging more of the community in resilience planning
  • A set of next steps for resilience planning, along with a list of potential partners for each of those steps.


For More Information:

Communities and Experts Collaborate for Climate Resilience(AGU’s Eos) – 07/11/2017

Public-Private Partnerships Contribute to Resilience Dialogues’ Successful Beta Phase (AGU Blog) – 07/11/2017

Can Networked Knowledge Help Communities Thrive on a Turbulent Planet? (Dot Earth, New York Times) – 10/31/2016

Obama Administration Outlines Path For Climate Change Resiliency (Huffington Post) – 10/31/2016

The Resilience Dialogues: Connecting Communities with Scientists and Practitioners (White House Office of Science and Technology Blog Post) – 10/31/2016

Fact Sheet: Launching the Resilience Dialogues – 10/31/2016

Fact Sheet: Obama Administration Highlights Opportunities for Building Community Climate Resilience across the Nation – 10/31/2016

American Geophysical Union & Partners Launch Community Climate Resilience Program with the office of Science and Technology Policy (AGU Press Release) – 10/31/2016

AGU’s TEX Program to Lead Climate Effort Launched by White House (AGU’s Eos) – 10/31/2016


Resilience Dialogues participants get together at the 2017 National Adaptation Forum in St. Paul, MN.


Resilience Dialogues Mid-Year Review

By Melissa Goodwin

Communities across the United States – and globally – are negatively affected by climate change. As these impacts grow in the future, communities must make plans and decisions to reduce their vulnerability. If done well, this planning makes a community not only less vulnerable to climate impacts, but also more resilient. Across the federal government, NGO, private sector and climate services community at large, there is more than enough scientific information, data and tools to facilitate resilience. However, many local communities are uncertain how to begin, what available information means for them (and whether it’s even applicable to their situation), and where to turn for trustworthy advice.

Thriving Earth Exchange launched the Resilience Dialogues in 2016 in partnership with the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to address this need. In the time since, it has served 18 communities and engaged approximately 120 community leaders and more than 150 climate and resilience practitioners in facilitated, online conversations. Grounded in local priorities and climate impacts, these conversations are oriented toward identifying next steps and supporting resources to enhance community resilience.

What’s New in 2018?

The program has grown and evolved through every iteration of Community Dialogues (cohorts of 3-6 communities who go through the Resilience Dialogues simultaneously), and 2018 has been no exception. The 2018 evolution of the Resilience Dialogue has seen changes in leadership, technology and the way we engage with communities:

  • Leadership. In December 2017, we announced new leadership for the Resilience Dialogues: the American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP) joined USGCRP as co-lead of the program. As a nationally-recognized networking, curating and convening power, ASAP brings deep experience with the adaptation field of practice and the potential for new, innovative partnerships. Despite stepping back from a formal leadership role, Thriving Earth Exchange has continued to play a key role in the strategic development and implementation of the Resilience Dialogues.
  • Technology. In 2018, Community dialogues took place on AGU Connect for the first time. User experience and feedback resulting from the previous platform had indicated a need for a more streamlined and reliable discussion space. The new platform made engagement simpler (for example, it allowed mobile access and the ability to tag users and reply directly from email), enabling participants to maximize time spent engaging substantively in their respective dialogues.
  • “Bridge Support” for Communities after the Resilience Dialogues. In 2018, Resilience Dialogues launched Bridge Support opportunities for alumni communities. Bridge Support is a stepping stone from dialogue to action. Alumni communities are encouraged to take advantage of Bridge Support after they have engaged their broader community on the recommendations outlined in their dialogues synthesis report (for example, via a community meeting) and feel ready to prepare for or act on one or more of those recommendations. Bridge Support currently consists of two options:
    • Capacity building brainstorm: A two-hour facilitated conference call with a Community Leader and 2-3 subject matter experts. Participants discuss capacity-related challenges for implementing the priorities identified in their Community Dialogue.
    • Thriving Earth Exchange Project: A 6-18-month collaboration between a volunteer scientist and the community to jumpstart a community resilience priority identified within their Community Dialogue.

What Communities Has Resilience Dialogues Served in 2018 So Far?

Three communities participated in the most recent round of dialogues in June 2018: Anchorage, Alaska; Carlisle, Penn.; and Nashua, N.H.

  • Community leaders from Anchorage discussed how to improve engagement with different departments in the municipal government, as well as how to access climate information and data that is relevant to local decision making. Priority next steps identified include improving resilience metrics, highlighting co-benefits of resilience planning to incentivize implementation across city-departments, cross-training employees, developing and tracking local climate indicators, and organizing a workshop for scenario development.
  • Community leaders from Carlisle considered the need for a plan to address extreme rainfall and flooding, incorporating public health impacts of climate change into the city’s hazard mitigation plan, and a communication system for emergencies. Priority next steps identified include incorporating projected climate change into stormwater infrastructure planning, pursuing improvements to emergency planning, and implementing a public education campaign to raise awareness of climate risks and promote actions to increase resilience.
  • Community leaders from Nashua explored enhancing cross-departmental planning and coordination on resilience, locally-relevant and actionable climate information, and multi-stakeholder engagement. Priority next steps identified include a city staff educational/visioning workshop, a directive to prioritize resilience, and engaging with residents to crowdsource information on flood events in the community.

What’s Next for Resilience Dialogues?

  • The Resilience Dialogues is currently recruiting network and service partners to engage with staff to develop and implement the Resilience Dialogues and use it to support communities within their networks. The insights, priorities and reach of partner organizations will support the Resilience Dialogues’ efforts to grow and support more communities as they begin their resilience journey.
  • A new cohort of three communities will participate in the Resilience Dialogues this fall (October-November). Climate scientists and resilience practitioners interested in volunteering with the program are invited to learn more about Resilience Dialogues by visiting our website and reading about the subject matter expert (SME) role Apply to volunteer by filling out this google form and email Rachel Jacobson at [email protected] with any questions.
  • The first Resilience Dialogues Community Meeting will take place on Wednesday, August 29 at the California Adaptation Forum. This will be an opportunity for past and prospective Resilience Dialogues participants to connect and learn from one another. Alumni communities will share how they’re building on their Resilience Dialogues experience and meeting participants will engage in a facilitated, outcome-oriented conversation about enhancing local community capacity for building climate resilience. Anyone interested in attending in-person or online can contact [email protected] for more information.


Communities and Experts Collaborate for Climate Resilience

Resilience Dialogues Update: 2017 Beta

All updates for this project

Collaborating Organization(s)

The Resilience Dialogues is a public-private collaboration that works to build climate-resilient communities through facilitated dialogues among scientists, practitioners, and community leaders. The American Society of Adaptation Professionals and the U.S. Global Change Research Program work in close coordination on the design, development, and implementation of this effort, along with support from the American Geophysical Union’s Thriving Earth Exchange, the Meridian Institute, and other public and private entities.