The U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit: evidence of progress

Edward P. Gardiner, David D. Herring, James F. Fox
2018 Climatic Change  
The U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit (toolkit.climate.gov) is a federal website, launched in 2014, designed for state and local decision makers to bolster capacity for resilience to climate-related hazards. We document the development, conceptual foundation, and evolution of this toolkit to illustrate how to put data and tools into context for decision makers, namely by framing climate resilience within risk management, focusing on end users' stories, and engaging directly with users. As this is
more » ... the first effort to bring together multiple federal agencies' tools, data, and case studies into a decision support platform, most attention has been given to framing climate adaptation and resilience. To that end, we introduce the Steps to Resilience, which incorporate risk management and decision making for climaterelated hazards. The site structure and content support that framework. We introduce a fivepart BQuality of Relationship^metric that helps our team define and measure success via the website and via engagement with end-users. Our results provide avenues for developers of similar toolkits to meaningfully present climate science to adaptation professionals and the decision makers they serve. Climatic Change (2019) 153:477-490 https://doi.recommended that U.S. Federal agencies provide climate adaptation decision support (2009). They further suggested focusing first and foremost on end-user needs and investing in processes and relationships between those users and information providers. According to many adaptation specialists and scientists, the best way to prepare for potential future impacts of climate change is to build resilience to present-day climate-related hazards (Mimura et al. 2014) . Often, this preparation can pay for itself in saved future costs of recovery after a disaster. Municipal planning that prevents climate-related disasters can bring a benefit-to-cost ratio between 4 and 15 (Healy and Malhotra 2009; Seiger et al. 2017) . Despite continued work to understand impacts from climate-related hazards, less effort has focused on translating scientific assessments into actionable information for the individuals, businesses, and communities who have resources or responsibility to respond to shifting probabilities and impacts of climate-related hazards. Many adaptation professionals in the USA are seeking better coordination among federal partners and interoperability among the tools and data they provide. In November 2014, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration launched the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit (CRT; toolkit.climate.gov) and its companion geobrowser, the Climate Explorer, on behalf of the U.S. Global Change Research Program in order to provide that coordination, address the broadening awareness of climate impacts, and translate scientific resources for decision makers bearing the responsibility for those impacts. The website integrates and translates federal resources so end-users of climate information may access and understand the diversity of federal information about climaterelated hazards. The CRT targets decision makers such as municipal planners, utility and resource managers, policy leaders, and business owners who want to make their assets (including human populations, natural resources, and infrastructure) resilient to those types of hazards. The goal of the CRT is to improve people's ability to understand and manage climate-related risks and opportunities and to help them make their communities and businesses more resilient to extreme events. No effort by the U.S. Federal Government on behalf of diverse departments and agencies has previously sought to integrate science assessments, adaptation tools, and practical guidance about adaptation to climate-related hazards. This paper synthesizes the design, implementation, and application of the CRT in order to establish a baseline from which future assessments of this and other toolkits might be measured. First, we outline the planning framework used within the site and engagements that employ the toolkit. Second, we describe the structure and contents of the site itself. Third, we describe efforts to engage with our audience and account for our efficacy through a five-part quality of relationship. The CRT team evolved its content and design based upon evidence gathered from engagement with the site's audience (see Gardiner et al., this volume). Citing those interactions, here we present evidence of progress toward helping decision makers adapt to climate variability and change in the U.S.A. By framing climate resilience, focusing on end users' stories, and engaging directly with new users, we have developed lessons and opportunities for developers of similar toolkits in other nations or regions.
doi:10.1007/s10584-018-2216-0 fatcat:fg7puyf5v5bdraux23lik26o4a