And So Does Resiliency
CML, individual cities and towns, and allied organizations continue working to bring about new collaborative efforts between the state and local governments to make our communities more resilient to climate-change-related risks.
Two years ago, the state government commissioned an overview study by experts from the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, and other institutions on Colorado’s vulnerabilities to increases in wildfires, floods, heat waves, and other climate change impacts.
The Colorado Local Resilience Project brought together 78 representatives of 30 local governments, who produced a broad, consensus report outlining a path forward in how local governments can improve their resilience to climate-related risks.
This call for action asks more local governments to take action in their own communities to improve their local resilience, and for local governments to work together and in partnership with the state and federal governments. Climate-related risks do not respect governmental boundaries, and coordinated actions among all levels of government will be necessary.
In the past few months, delegations of local officials and staff have had meetings with the governor’s staff and top officials at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade to push collaborative state-local action on several priority recommendations.
The central message in these meetings has been that local governments are demonstrating leadership in preparing for the potential risks of climate change, but that to be fully effective those efforts need to rest on a strong foundation of state and local collaboration.
Out of the 36 recommendations from the Local Resilience Project, we have pushed for several practical, affordable priorities:
- That CDPHE collaborate with local public health officials and others to determine how climate-related risks can best be factored into state public health programs and regulatory decisions.
- That the state government lead a collaborative process, with input from local health departments and others, to assess the existing capacity of state and local health departments to address climate-related risks to public health, and as necessary to develop proposals to fill in the gaps in that capacity.
- That a detailed assessment of climate-related risks to natural resources and recreation in Colorado be prepared. This could be a comprehensive study, or it could begin with one or more individual topics. A scientific assessment of exactly how a hotter, drier climate could increase our wildfire risks would be a logical starting point.
- That CDPHE take the lead in convening an annual workshop for state and local health officials to learn from experts about the latest information on climate-related risks to public health, and how those risks can be tackled.
- That DNR convene similar annual workshops focused on risks to natural resources and outdoor recreation.
- That the state government pull together and make available information to help local governments with their preparedness actions, including through a single clearinghouse on climate change, climate impacts, and best practices.
In these and other ways, the state government and local governments can work together to be much more cost-effective than if everybody tries to tackle these issues alone.
Local governments, of course, have a unique and crucial role in addressing climate-related risks, just as with any other risks to the safety and prosperity of their communities and residents. The type of local risks posed by climate change may be new. But local government action to reduce local risks has been important for as long as we have had local government.
Contact me to learn how your city or town might become involved in these efforts or to share the story of what you are already doing.