The Climate Adaptation Gap: How to Create a Climate Adaptation Plan

by Joyce Coffee on June 14, 2014

This article originally appeared in Triple Pundit: The Climate Adaptation Gap: How to Create a Climate Adaptation Plan

Editor’s note: This is the third post in a series on the climate adaptation gap. Stay tuned for future installments here on TriplePundit! In case you missed it, you can read the first post here and the second post here.

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 10.35.51 PMBy Joyce Coffee

In a previous post, I explained how to determine climate-related risks in your supply chains, capital assets and community engagements. With that knowledge, how do we determine strategies to prepare your most vulnerable assets? It’s likely that a storm will prod corporate risk managers and business-continuity planning managers to take stock and begin instituting telecommuting policies, diversifying their supplier chain to other geographies and advising the small businesses they rely on how to develop a resiliency or adaptation plan.

Here is what it takes to do so:

  1. Start with adaptive actions already in place. Shift your thinking to resiliency from greenhouse gas mitigation, and revel in a new set of actions you can feature and enhance as part of a growing global corporate strategy.
  2. Review local climate-change impact projections.
  3. Identify vulnerabilities relevant to your supply chain, capital assets and community engagements.(extreme heat, extreme precipitation, ecosystem changes, fire, floods, inundation, sea-level rise)
  4. Prepare an economic risk analysis that adds these risks to your financial modeling for risks avoided.

Finally, they must create a short- and medium-term plan that:

  • Sets priorities for adaptations with collateral benefits; e.g., mitigating greenhouse gas emissions (onsite stormwater management), improving employee morale (work-from-home options) or buoying your reputation (shoring up public health systems in one of your supplier hubs).
  • Establishes as priorities adaptations with a collateral improvement to your bottom line and your employees’ quality of life.
  • Includes financials for avoided risks to explain and promote any additional costs not covered by collateral benefits.

Here is a window into how this sort of evaluation works: Perry Yeatman, Principal of Mission Measurement, the global leader in measuring social outcomes, notes that based on her prior work at Kraft Foods, the key to resiliency in the cocoa supply chain involves examining all the vectors impacting farmers. These include demographic shifts, community engagements, diversity of crops and agrarian livelihoods. She contends that it matters to our ample supply of chocolate bars that cocoa farmers are aging, their children are migrating to cities and farmers need to raise chickens to diversify their nutrition among other personal and community pressures that contribute to crop viability.

Businesses new to climate adaptation need only look to peers with their own plans for invaluable resources. They also may find helpful tools from government-backed organizations that understand what climate adaptation looks like and, importantly, how to create an institutional commitment to climate adaptation.

Two that I especially like are: Private Sector Engagement in Adaptation to Climate Change, a report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and Making Cities Resilient:  My City is Getting Ready.

Based on the latter, here is a 10-point quick-guide checklist I developed for making companies resilient:

1. Include climate adaptation in a member of the C-suite’s job description. Establish a cross-function climate-adaptation working group as well as connections with local and regional governments in key geographies in your enterprise, especially operations and supply chain.  Consider collaborating with key members of your supply chain, industry peers and neighboring businesses on climate-adaptation planning and execution. Ensure that all departments understand their role regarding disaster-risk reduction and preparedness.

2. Include budget lines for both proactive adaptation measures and recouping from extreme events.  Include climate adaptation in performance reviews for C-suite members, lieutenants and managers.

3. Incorporate climate adaptation in your initial emergency-preparedness and continuity plans with annual updates.  Ensure that this information and the plans for your corporation’s resilience are readily available to your leadership team and fully discussed with them.

4. Invest in and maintain critical infrastructure that reduces risk, such as flood drainage, snow removal, vector-borne disease prevention and heat mitigation for workers and machinery, adjusted where needed to cope with climate change. Consider supply-chain and building decisions with these risks in mind.

5. Assess the safety of all facilities, especially those in locations vulnerable to extreme weather events (coastal, arid) and upgrade or move.

6. Engage with local governments to ensure that climate-adaptation regulations protect residents and economic growth. Identify your most vulnerable employees (age, income, tasks, geography) and plan especially for their safety.

7. Establish education programs and training on disaster-risk reduction throughout your enterprise, not just for disaster preparedness but also for heat exhaustion, vector-borne disease and the like.

8. Protect and enhance ecosystems and natural buffers in and near your holdings to mitigate floods, storm surges, extreme heat and other hazards.

9. Install early-warning systems and emergency-management capacities in your enterprise and hold regular preparedness drills.

10. After any disaster, ensure the needs of survivors are placed at the center of reconstruction.  Click here for communications guidelines.

Image credit: Making Cities Resilient:  My City is Getting Ready

Read more in the Climate Adaptation Gap series:

  1. Bridging the Climate Adaptation Gap: From Recognition to Action
  2. Bridging the Climate Adaptation Gap: Relative Risks of Geographies in Supply Chains
  3. The Climate Adaptation Gap: How to Create a Climate Adaptation Plan

Joyce Coffee is managing director of the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN). Coffee, who is based in Chicago, serves as the executive lead for related resiliency research, outreach and execution. Stay tuned for the next post in “The Climate Adaptation Gap” series on Tuesday, June 17. The series is taking a deep-dive into the complicated look at supply chain risk assessment.

 

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