Advancing Best Practices: Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience

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EcoAdapt for providing valuable support, training and assistance to local adaptation practitioners in the public and private sectors. EcoAdapt manages the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE) and was the primary sponsor of the May 2015 National Adaptation Forum attended by about 800 people.

EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation initiative produces case studies and synthesizes lessons learned through interviews with and surveys of adaptation practitioners. In 2015, these surveys included assessing adaptation efforts in the Southeast and U.S. Caribbean water resources and U.S. marine fisheries management. Studies and reports developed from these projects will be released in 2016 after undergoing external peer review.

Also in 2015, EcoAdapt worked with SeaPlan, the City of Boston and The Boston Harbor Association to develop an adaptation indicators framework to track and evaluate climate-related progress within the city. Finally, EcoAdapt's Available Science Assessment Project aims to apply scientific knowledge to increase the effectiveness of adaptation actions, with its first test case examining the role of fire treatments in Northwest national forests and communities.

Nonprofit EcoAdapt has a staff of 10 and is funded primarily by grants and sponsorships. Its support and revenue in 2014 was $2 million.

Environmental Sciences Associates for its work and research on using nature-based approaches-sometimes known as "green infrastructure"-to stabilize shorelines and mitigate erosion of vulnerable coastal communities and ecosystems. The firm has worked with Monterey Bay groups to evaluate and model how "soft" engineering solutions would perform vs. hard engineered structures like revetments. And for San Francisco Bay communities facing sea level rise and requirements to upgrade wastewater treatment facilities, ESA developed green infrastructure approaches that use marshes to address contaminant issues and provide defenses against sea level rise.

ESA is one of three environmental consulting and engineering firms to collaborate with The Nature Conservancy on green infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico, also partners with the State of California and TNC's Coastal Resilience Program to map future coastal hazards.

Wetland carbon, also known as blue carbon, for GHG mitigation and adaptation to sea level rise is a particular strength of ESA's. In a report for Restore America's Estuaries, ESA quantified carbon sequestration and coastal protection benefits of wetlands restoration activities, using Washington's Snohomish River estuary in Puget Sound as a case study.

In August 2015, ESA, its clients and partners celebrated the culmination of many years of work on the Qwuloolt Estuary near the mouth of the Snohomish River as tidal waters flowed into 350 acres of restored, formerly diked wetlands. In October 2015, ESA and partners Research Planning Inc. and Industrial Economics were selected by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to perform scientific and technical reviews of Gulf Coast Restoration projects.

Environmental science and planning firm ESA has more than 350 people working in 13 offices across the West and in Florida.

Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact for advancing the understanding of climate change impacts and supporting cooperative solutions in a region of the United States that is highly vulnerable to rising sea levels and higher storm surges.

A coalition of Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties, the Compact set out in 2009 to create "a new form of regional climate governance" and to support their mutual efforts-and those of the jurisdictions within their borders-to plan for and adapt to climate change. The Compact produced a Regional Climate Action Plan in 2012, followed by a series of implementation guidelines and workshops such as the 2014 guidance for stormwater management.

To ensure that major infrastructure projects and planning efforts throughout the region incorporate a consistent regional sea level rise projection in design and develop risk-informed adaptation strategies for the region, the Compact issued its first Unified Sea Level Rise Projection in 2011.

In October 2015, its Sea Level Rise Work Group-17 scientists and engineers from governments and universities in the region- updated the projections to reflect the latest scientific research; to follow federal guidance using 1992 as a base year; and to extend projections from 2060 to 2100. The work group also added an upper boundary curve (based on NOAA projections) for high risk critical infrastructure projects expected to be in use after 2060 (for more, see bit.ly/1VezFK5).

While the report highlights the extraordinary long-term risks for Southeast Florida-where high tides already push sea water up into stormwater systems, even on rain-free sunny days-at least with the Compact, governments, property owners and residents have the benefit of robust information and a cooperative framework in which to plan for adaptation.

Swiss RE for quantifying the economic value of adaptation and resilience measures. Long active in climate change, the global reinsurance company was a founder of the ClimateWise Alliance and an early supporter of the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative which is selling crop insurance for climate resilience and adaptation in Ethiopia, Senegal, Malawi and Zambia.

Swiss Re made climate change a "priority issue 20 years ago," according to its 2014 financial report. It created a climate change strategy focused on: advancing understanding of climate risks in order to quantify and integrate them into underwriting; developing products and services to migitate GHGs and adapt to climate change; raising awareness and public advocacy; and tackling its own carbon footprint.

Through the Economics of Climate Adaptation (ECA) studies, Swiss Re and its collaborators have estimated the total climate risks facing more than 20 vulnerable regions and cities and identify the most cost-effective measures to address the risks.

In a December 2015 presentation at COP21, Swiss Re's David Bresch discussed ECA studies for Bangladesh's Barisal province and for San Salvador's Acelhuate River region. The analyses estimated the long-term cost-benefit ratios of more than a dozen adaptation measures appropriate for each geography, ranging from deepening drainage canals to resettling slum dwellers. For each measure, the upfront costs are weighed against the likely avoided damages by 2040, allowing local governments and aid agencies to invest in the measures with the best ROI. Swiss Re's partners in the ECA work group include the Global Environment Facility, McKinsey, the Rockefeller and ClimateWorks foundations, the European Commission and Standard Chartered Bank.

Swiss Re is the world's second largest reinsurance firm (after Munich Re) with $3.5 billion in 2014 revenues.