Building strong, more resilient communities that can adapt to a changing climate
Climate resilience and adaptation
Because we are already experiencing the effects of climate change, we not only need to cut our greenhouse gas emissions but also adapt to a changing climate.
Climate adaptation is about developing and implementing strategies to help human and natural systems cope with and become more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
Resilience is the capacity of a community, individual, business, or natural environment to prevent, withstand, respond, and recover from acute shocks and stressors.
Inequitable climate impacts
Climate change is likely to bring more abrupt and challenging situations, such as flash floods or severe weather, that worsen existing disparities. A climate hazard, such as water in the basement, could be an inconvenience for some, a manageable problem for others, or a catastrophic event for those without the means to respond.&
To illustrate this point, as winters have been warming, Hennepin County has seen an increase in winter rains. Rainwater flowing toward snow-covered stormwater intakes cannot infiltrate frozen soils and pools in the lowest spots.
When winter rainwater flows into residential and commercial basements, the owner’s or renter’s financial ability to respond determines whether the damage is inconvenient, manageable, or catastrophic. The property of those without the financial means to repair the water damage may end up in tax forfeiture.
Strengthening our community
Building a more resilient community ensures we are better prepared for more abrupt and challenging situations. This can happen at both the individual and community level.
For example when it comes to water damage in buildings, building stronger communities could include providing financial assistance to individuals to help residents prevent or repair water damage and increasing stormwater holding capacity in areas most prone to flooding to protect communities.
Strategies in the Climate Action Plan to strengthen individual and community resilience include:
- Monitoring and communicating climate risks.
- Fostering relationships with communities to listen and respond with people-centered solutions
- Promoting best practices in the areas of preventing pest-borne diseases, like Lyme’s disease, and managing indoor air quality, wet basements, and mold.
- Being better prepared for extreme heat or cold and severe storms, to help prevent overheating, frost bite, or even drowning.
- Plan for population growth due to people relocating from areas facing more severe climate impacts and exploring lessons learned from previous climate shocks to prepare for climate refugees.
Aligning with disparity reduction
Hennepin County is committed to reducing disparities. The county defines disparities as differences in areas of life that result in one group having a disproportionate burden of negative life outcomes.
To show how climate resilience aligns with disparity reduction, the county modified a climate resiliency framework used by many organizations to show how it overlaps with the county's disparity reduction domains.
The climate resilience framework are show in the blue circles in the diagram below, while the county’s the disparity reduction domains are shown in the green inner circle.