UREx SRN Inspires Greylit Research into City and State Resilience Finance

The UREx SRN recently supported a pinnacle webinar that profiled two UREx-derived research projects focused on building practitioner resilience. 500 participants attended the day-of event and at least as many will watch the webinar in the archive. UREx SRN member Joyce Coffee partnered with the Innovation Network for Communities on both research projects (Total project amount for the entire team and both reports: $50,000 funded by the Summit Foundation).

Playbook 1.0: How Cities are Paying for Climate Resilience

The 2019 report Playbook 1.0: How Cities Are Paying for Climate Resilience identifies eight distinct strategies cities are using to pay for large-scale climate-resilience projects, mostly to address sea level rise and flooding.

These strategies amount to an initial approach for deciding who will pay what and how city governments will generate the needed revenue. Our analysis is based on a close look at how eight US cities in seven states have been organizing the funding needed to implement their ambitious climate-resilience plans. They are among a small number of cities that have gotten this far.

Each of these cities has had to find its own way to public and private financial resources, because there is no system in place for solving the problem of how to pay for climate resilience—no cost-sharing arrangements, for instance, for resilience infrastructure across local, state, and federal levels of government. The cities are involuntary pioneers faced with growing climate hazards and exposure that require more money for resilience. Examining these cities’ pathways revealed common strategies that, while only reflecting the leading-edge of urban climate-resilience financing practices, quite likely foreshadow what other cities already or may do.

But the pathways also suggest the limits of what cities are able to do. The acknowledgement that state governments can help local governments invest in climate resilience led to a 2020 report How State Governments can Help Local Communities Invest in Climate Resilience.

How State Governments can Help Local Communities Invest in Climate Resilience

This report presents recommendations for how state governments can develop climate-resilience financial systems that help local communities invest in protecting residents, businesses, public infrastructure, private property, and natural resources from climate-driven stresses and shocks. To help states consider and act on the recommendations, we developed a State Climate Resilience Action Checklist that identifies the essential actions that states need to take to build a comprehensive approach to resilience, including a financial system. By “financial system” for states we mean a set of aligned state actions that fund and finance climate-resilience investment, revenue-generating mechanisms for shifting existing revenue or generating new revenue for resilience building, provision of basic state services related to climate resilience, and the administration of federal funding flows that can be used for resilience purposes. Taken together, these support local communities in developing the capacities and actions they need to strengthen their climate resilience in the short- and long-term.