Climate Resilience Portal


  • Even as we work to avert the worst potential impacts of climate change, we must become more resilient to those impacts that are now unavoidable. These impacts often disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color, reinforcing the need for equitable and proactive resilience planning and resource allocation.
  • Businesses prepare for risks every day and can factor climate risks into existing risk management frameworks to become more climate resilient.
  • Governments have an important role to play in updating infrastructure and helping communities cope with extreme weather, sea-level rise and other climate impacts.

As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, climate change will continue to accelerate. Even if emissions were to stop today, the climate would continue to change for some time as the Earth’s system responds to the warming already underway. It makes sense to anticipate changes and act now to minimize future economic and social risks.

Climate resilience is often associated with acute events – like heat waves, heavy downpours, hurricanes, or wildfires – that will become more frequent or intense as the climate changes. However, good resilience planning also accounts for chronic events, like rising sea levels, worsening air quality, and population migration.

Cities and local communities are responding by investing in infrastructure updates and climate-smart planning to mitigate the impacts of acute and chronic events. For example, a combination of nature-based solutions and building improvements, like planting street trees and installing green roofs, can help mitigate extreme heat. Actions like these are especially important in historically marginalized communities, where climate impacts can exacerbate existing inequalities. Baltimore and Minneapolis are among cities that have implemented Resilience Hubs, housed in trusted community facilities that provide day-to-day services and operate as resource centers during and after hazard events like floods or extreme heat.

Governments and businesses alike are planning now for the environment and economy they will face in the future. Recent research found that each dollar of federal grant assistance spent on risk mitigation returned $6 in value. The federal government has responded by implementing new pre-disaster mitigation grants to help communities build resilience to climate impacts. And, recognizing that climate impacts pose uncertain risks to the U.S. financial system, the Securities and Exchange Commission is considering how best to support climate risk disclosure among publicly traded U.S. companies. For their part, businesses increasingly recognize how supporting local governments and building their own climate resilience helps create competitive economies they can thrive in.

While there is still much work to be done, there are many inspiring cases of resilience planning that can serve as models for future initiatives.

Examples of Resilience Planning

  • The city of Phoenix has developed a heat action plan that prioritizes natural cooling solutions and community engagement to fight rising heat.
  • Southern California Edison is implementing a multi-year infrastructure resilience plan to mitigate the risk of wildfires and reduce the need for public safety power shut-offs.
  • Following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, the community of Edgemere in Queens, New York, launched an 18-month community engagement process for building flood resilience, resulting in the Resilient Edgemere Community Plan.

Overview of Resilience Solutions

Creating climate resilient communities calls for action from businesses, states, cities, and the federal government. Each is poised to approach resilience with varied strategies.

Business Resilience Solutions: Businesses take a variety of approaches in addressing risks, and often view climate change as a “threat multiplier” that makes existing risks worse. Business initiatives to build resilience include developing disaster recovery plans, adding onsite energy resources like combined heat and power systems or rooftop solar, and identifying backup supply and distribution chains. Small businesses may deploy different strategies like installing green roofs for water retention and communicating preparedness information to employees.

C2ES examines how companies are preparing for climate risks, the strategies they are using to build resilience, and what more they can do in Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change and Weathering the Next Storm: A Closer Look at Business Resilience. We also explore best practices for climate risk disclosure in a series of reports focused on the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures. More information is available on our Business Action on Resilience page.

Federal Resilience Solutions: The federal government provides support for state and local climate resilience in a number of ways, the most visible of which is significant grant and loan funding for state and local resilience-related projects. Federal agencies are also a primary provider of climate data, models, planning tools, and technical assistance that help planners and policymakers assess risks and opportunities for action. While federal agencies and programs have successfully sponsored many local resilience-building projects, these resources must be scaled up significantly to meet the needs of communities already preparing for and recovering from climate-related extreme weather events. Increasing these resources is particularly critical for low-income and marginalized communities, who are disproportionately impacted by climate-related extreme weather events and often face challenges in accessing support to prepare for and recover from these events.

State Resilience Solutions: State governments are crucial in convening local and private interests related to climate change and pooling the resources and expertise of the many departments or agencies that can be affected by or help address climate change. Nineteen states currently have climate adaptation or resilience plans, (with six more states currently developing them). States can be influential by adopting resilience practices in state-owned assets and operations and by adopting policies that mandate or incentivize climate resilience in insurance, transportation, and building codes. For example, Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council includes changing sea levels in its special area management plan for communities on the shoreline.

C2ES explores what states are doing on our State Action on Resilience page and explores how they can engage with businesses in Framework for Engaging Small- and Medium-sized Businesses in Maryland on Climate Resilience.

City Resilience Solutions: Cities and smaller communities face a variety of challenges including sea level rise, flooding, heat, and drought. In response, cities are developing standalone resilience plans, like the Greater Miami area’s Resilient305 strategy, while others incorporate resilience strategies into master plans (e.g. Keene, New Hampshire) and hazard mitigation plans (e.g.  San Diego County, California, and Providence, Rhode Island).  New Orleans developed a resilience strategy to implement throughout city operations, resulting in new, resilient design standards for public works, an updated zoning ordinance, and embedding resilience outcomes within the city’s budgeting process.

C2ES breaks down what cities are doing on our City Action on Resilience page, and explores how they are engaging businesses in our Guide to Public-Private Collaboration on City Climate Resilience Planning. We also explore how investing in climate resilience helps cities create the competitive local economies that attract new residents and businesses in The Resilience Factor: A Competitive Edge for Climate-Ready Cities and Factoring in Resilience for City Competitiveness, a scrolling story.

Financing Resilience: The upfront cost of building resilience is a challenge, as is the need to set aside funds often needed for short-term projects. However, governments and businesses are obtaining capital to invest in resilience projects through innovative finance mechanisms like green bonds and climate funds. States that participate in emissions-trading systems also allocate proceeds to resilience projects. In addition, many federal and state insurance offices and private insurers offer lower rates for taking steps to reduce climate risks, providing additional savings later.

C2ES explores a National Green Bank as an emerging opportunity to leverage private capital for resilience investment. We look at innovative ways to finance infrastructure resilience on our Financing Resilience page.


C2ES thanks the Bank of America for its support, which allowed us to develop our Climate Resilience Portal. As a fully independent organization, C2ES is solely responsible for its positions, programs, and publications.