Supporting local climate change adaptation: Where we are and where we need to go

John Nordgren, Missy Stults, Sara Meerow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Local governments are on the front line of efforts to address climate-related impacts. Recognizing this, there is a growing movement to develop and deliver tools, resources, and services to support local communities’ climate adaptation initiatives. There is, however, limited understanding of what specific types of resources exist and how well these resources match the needs of local practitioners. To bring clarity to these questions, we: 1) assessed the current landscape of climate-adaptation resources and services; 2) surveyed community practitioners to learn how well these resources align with their needs; and 3) convened leading service providers and local practitioners to identify strategic opportunities for moving the adaptation field forward. Findings demonstrate that existing services and resources are meeting the early phases of local adaptation efforts such as conducting vulnerability assessments and creating adaptation plans, but are failing to meet the needs associated with implementing, monitoring, and evaluating adaptation activities. Additionally, a lack of funding and staff time to support adaptation, as well as inaccessible resource formats are barriers impeding local climate adaptation efforts. The mismatch between the types and formats of services being provided and the needs of local governments means that more work is needed to ensure that climate adaptation resources are responsive to the existing and future needs of local governments. Moreover, our research finds that there is a strong and growing need to organize and streamline the climate adaptation resource and service landscape so that practitioners can easily, effectively, and efficiently access the resources they need to build more resilient local communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-352
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptation resources
  • Climate adaptation
  • Climate services
  • Local community
  • Local government

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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