Building Adaptive Capacity for Resilience in U.S. Coastal Communities
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Research findings to date point to some of the factors that enhance adaptive capacity (social networks, open communication, reduced pollution, cultural diversity), but assessment of the governing structures and processes for building adaptive capacity for resilience is limited. This paper explores what good governance looks like with respect to building adaptive capacity and “social resilience” utilizing a survey of local leaders, including public officials, in three groups of communities: signatories to The Resilient Communities for America (RC4A) agreement, a joint initiative to develop federal policy on climate preparedness; non-signatories from “sustainable cities” identified in previous studies (Portney, 2001; Pierce et. al, 2014; Saavedra et al, 2012); and communities identified as being “at risk” (ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability USA, nd). We explore the degree to which cities’ commitments to resilience are driven from a position that is largely proactive (sustainability focused) or reactive (focused on disaster response). In addition, we explore capacities for adaptive learning (adjusting to changes in internal and external processes) along four paths of resilience identified by RC4A: climate preparedness, energy security, infrastructure renewal, and economic prosperity. Finally, we will study how the resilience indicators relate to indicators of both good governance (based on institutionalization of systems thinking) and capacity building (including networks for social learning and open communication with the community). This paper aims to contribute to an understanding of how communities are (or are not) operationalizing these concepts in practice, and their consequent progress toward resilience.