Resilient Communities Projects Launch Across the Nation

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TEX and the National League of Cities collaborate to help seven cities elevate climate resilience goals

TEX is proud to partner with the National League of Cities’ Sustainable Cities Institute (SCI), which recently announced seven cities selected to join this year’s Resilient Communities cohort. In this program, each city will set its own climate sustainability goals and work with TEX and SCI to map out a path to achieve them. The selected cities are Durango, Colo.; Indianapolis, Ind.; San Leandro, Calif.; Birmingham, Ala.; Bozeman, Mont.; Kingston, N.Y., and Nashua, N.H.

TEX and SCI leaders met recently and agreed on a plan that will capitalize on each organization’s strengths in order to advance the cities’ sustainability goals. TEX is thrilled to tap into the National League of Cities’ strong history of working to address the needs of city leaders and residents, and SCI is especially excited to take advantage of TEX’s climate data expertise.

As Shafaq Choudry, former Senior Associate of SCI, explains, cities need detailed data to prove the existence of problems and advocate for a budget to solve them, but their capacity to collect, access, and analyze such data is often limited.

“This is such a natural fit, and a tremendous opportunity for our cities,” said Choudry. “TEX has created an amazing framework to help cities establish their sustainability goals down to the specificities, looking carefully at data and using it to help inform decisions.”

The selected cities aren’t global metropolises with climate data specialists on staff, nor do they garner media attention from extreme weather events that highlight climate problems. Rather, they are small to mid-sized cities that want to help their residents adapt to a changing climate but don’t necessarily have the right tools to do so.

Instead of imposing resilience goals on the cities, TEX and SCI are sharing resources, offering advice, and measuring the capacity of each city to meet its goals. Thus far, each city has been partnered with a TEX scientist with specialized expertise relevant to the city’s goals. SCI, meanwhile, is determining where these cities are in their resilience planning and identifying what tools they lack.

The cities are struggling with different climate challenges, but one area of overlap is the existence of social inequities. In each city, the most vulnerable populations are living in neighborhoods that have the poorest infrastructure and are the most susceptible to floods, drought, or extreme heat.

“Climate has a way of highlighting the social challenges that exist in urban areas, making them so much more visible,” Choudry says. “We need to be more intentional about how we talk about race and equity challenges within our cities, and how we reach out to these communities as weather crises continue to occur.”

“Resilience” might be a hot new buzzword, but SCI counsels cities to be introspective and learn from their own past initiatives, both successful and not. Quantitative data is important, especially because it can influence city budgets, but qualitative data tells the daily stories of the residents of a city, and can’t be discounted.

“It’s great that Resilient Communities has sparked such a high level of interest,” says Choudry. “When resources and funding are being cut back on a federal level, especially toward low-income urban populations, we have to start thinking more creatively about how these types of partnerships can have multiple benefits. This co-benefits approach is core to our thinking on resilience.”

Sarah Wilkins editor