Environmental Defense Fund, Regional Plan Association Release Report that Identifies Ways to Measure Climate Resilience

February 29, 2024
Jenny Tolep, 248-410-2666, jtolep@edf.org

(February 29, 2024) - Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Regional Plan Association (RPA), in collaboration with other stakeholders and partners, released a new report, Measuring Resilience, that identifies ways to quantify climate resilience. This work drew from both stakeholder and academic knowledge and addresses a gap of effective and reliable tools that measure how well communities, ecosystems and infrastructure withstand acute or avoid chronic climate impacts, such as flooding or storm damage.  

Within the report, EDF and RPA provide a set of indicators and metrics that can be used to measure a community’s resilience across a specific geography, paving the way for more user-friendly ways to answer the question: “How resilient are we?” at the level of a neighborhood, city or state. The report describes the importance of using resilience indicators in combination with available resources that measure vulnerability and climate hazards, as well as utilizing both science and community knowledge.  

According to EDF and RPA, reliable indicators will empower advocates, community organizations, government agencies and elected officials to make more informed and effective decisions about resilience planning and investments, as well as track and assess progress over time. 

"We are already experiencing the impacts of climate change in New York City and across the world. Just a few months ago, and more and more regularly, we dealt with extreme rainfall and flooding affecting lives, property and how we get to work and school," said Kate Boicourt, director for EDF’s Climate Resilient Coasts and Watersheds program in New York and New Jersey. "Leaders have effective ways to measure how devastating those impacts are and identify who is most vulnerable. But until now, there haven't been many established methods to measure how resilient a community is to those impacts. In Measuring Resilience, we identify evidence-based and community-informed metrics that will now allow decision makers to measure resilience effectiveness, track progress and improve management and policies over time."

“Many of our region’s communities are facing significant and worsening risks from the impacts of climate change, including coastal and heavy rainfall flooding,” said Robert Freudenberg, vice president for Energy & Environment at Regional Plan Association. “As neighborhoods, cities and states mobilize to plan for and implement adaptation programs and projects in response, the metrics presented in Measuring Resilience offer a variety of factors to quantify success and improve outcomes. Investments in resilience will be some of the largest we’ll make in the next generation. Measuring the success of those investments through improved levels of resilience will help to ensure that we are making the right decisions in the right places.”    

"New Yorkers need to understand if NYC is ready for climate change," said Amy Chester, managing director for Rebuild by Design. "Having indicators to measure our success will help communities understand our progress, highlight places that need improvements, and give tools that we can all use to hold our policy makers accountable." 

"The complexity of climate resilience and adaptation calls for strong metrics and yet adaptation solutions depend on geography, community perspectives, environmental considerations, range of climate risks and more. For this reason, developing climate adaptation metrics is a major challenge. The Waterfront Alliance was pleased to contribute to this effort to develop more clear indicators for climate adaptation and proud to have been a partner in the Measuring Resilience report.  We are eager to use metrics for better and clearer advocacy for a more livable future," said Cortney Koenig Worrall, president and CEO of Waterfront Alliance.

“Establishing clear and measurable goals is an opportunity to establish direction for policy, investments and collaborations, and this report is an important step in providing good guidance on how to set and measure climate resiliency targets. We are pleased to see trees and the urban forest included as a part of how New York City and beyond can measure and build their resiliency to flooding, extreme heat, and other climate impacts,” said Tami Lin-Moges, interim director of the Cities Program for The Nature Conservancy in New York. “The urban forest and green spaces are vital to helping New York City become more adaptive and resilient to the effects of climate change, and ensuring a healthier and safer future for all.”

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One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund