Thursday, October 16, 2014

Creating a Resilience Index for ecosystems and communities

This week the Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience issued a major report entitled Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources.  There is much worth dipping into.  Among the ideas I found most interesting was an effort to create a "Resilience Index."  The concept appears in several places throughout the report.  I like the idea, broadly conceived, and it will be interesting to see what emerges.  Here are the parts of the report that mention a Resilience Index:

Page 5:

Key Themes and Commitments Moving Forward:

This Agenda identifies four priority strategies to make the Nation’s natural resources more
resilient to a changing climate. For each strategy, the Agenda documents significant progress
and provides a roadmap for action moving forward. Highlights of the key actions agencies will
undertake in the near term to implement each of the four strategies are described below and in
Table 1.

1. Foster climate-resilient lands and waters – Protect important landscapes and develop the science, planning, tools, and practices to sustain and enhance the resilience of the Nation’s natural resources.

Key actions include the development of a Resilience Index to measure the progress of restoration and conservation actions and other new or expanded resilience tools to support climate-smart natural resource management. Agencies will identify and prioritize landscape-scale conservation opportunities for building resilience; fight the introduction and spread of invasive species; and partner internationally to promote resilience within the Arctic. Throughout, agencies will evaluate resilience efforts to inform future actions.


Page 19:

Design an Ecosystem Resilience Index: In 2015, Federal agencies, to include DOI, NOAA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the Department of Transportation (DOT), will design a framework for a decision-support tool that will provide baseline resilience data and measure the progress of restoration, conservation, and other resilience-enhancing management approaches. Experts will work toward developing common metrics, monitoring protocols, modeling approaches, and valuation methodologies to establish baseline conditions and provide measures of increased ecosystem resilience from cost-effective restoration. This work will be coordinated with other Federal projects, including the Community Resilience Index under development by FEMA, NOAA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Disaster Resilience Framework under development by NIST (see Chapter IV), the efforts of the Data and Tools Working Group described in Chapter I, the Climate Resilience Toolkit, and emerging efforts to develop indicators through the National Climate Assessment conducted by the U.S. Global Change Research Program.


Page 20:

Evaluate and Learn from Ongoing Resilience Efforts to Inform Future Actions: Within six months of the release of this agenda, agencies to include DOI, USDA, NOAA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Department of Defense (DOD), and EPA will identify programs for resilience evaluation. Such evaluations will include a) developing resilience metrics and b) evaluating whether investments produce resilience benefits for the resources and surrounding communities. An example is the third-party evaluation of DOI’s $300 million Sandy Supplemental resilience investments, initiated in September 2014. These efforts will be used to inform the Resilience Index over time.


Page 45:

Develop a Community Resilience Index: In 2014, FEMA will begin work in coordination with NOAA, NIST, and insurers to identify or develop a community resilience index that considers environmental, economic, and social resilience. This work will focus on economic and social components, in particular infrastructure, and will incorporate data and ecosystem information developed through DOI and NOAA efforts to measure progress on resilience through restoration. By 2015, this work will produce a set of key indicators and an initial index methodology for implementation. Products of this effort will be incorporated into the Climate Resilience Toolkit as appropriate in the future.

Hat tip to Patty Salkin over at Law of the Land for bringing the report's publication to our attention.

Stephen R. Miller

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