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A Critical Assessment of Community-based Adaptation in the United States

Since 2013, Abt Associates has been supporting the Kresge Foundation in its efforts to promote climate adaptation in U.S. cities. In particular, Abt is assisting the foundation by conducting a critical assessment of community-based adaptation in 17 U.S. cities. This assessment – which will be completed in late 2015 – will contribute to understanding of what cities are doing to adapt to climate change, what adaptation strategies have proven to be effective, and what the implications of these findings are for the field of climate adaptation.

Community-based adaptation case studies: Abt interviewed more than 50 thought leaders on adaptation and conducted on-the-ground research – including site visits and interviews with community stakeholders – in 17 communities. This research helped reveal what communities are doing to address their vulnerability to climate impacts, why they take action, who is involved, how they are getting things done, and what they have accomplished.

These case studies represent a diverse spectrum of communities that vary in terms of size, politics, socioeconomics, geography, and the types of climate impacts they face. Each case study highlights a specific action taken by the community that has reduced its vulnerability to climate variability and change. The case studies describe the factors that shaped these adaptation actions and their outcomes.

Empirical analysis of community-based adaptation activities: Based on empirical information collected for the community case studies, Abt has engaged in systematic and multi-method analysis. The analysis is designed to distill lessons learned about motivations, enabling conditions, stakeholder dynamics, and other factors that shape community-based adaptation efforts.

Engaging adaptation thought leaders: Abt established a Project Advisory Committee (PAC) of respected leaders in the fields of climate adaptation, natural hazards management, planning, sustainability, and other related fields. The PAC supports the project by providing feedback and guidance, and by reviewing work products and findings. Abt has organized and facilitated several PAC meetings over the course of the project.

Read more about the project:

Community-Based Adaptation in the United States – A Critical Assessment

North America