USA: 100 Resilient Cities, in partnership with Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, chooses 3 innovative projects to participate in Southern California resilience initiative

100 Resilient Cities

Southern California Resilience Initiative (SCRI) – Led by 100 Resilient Cities with Support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation – Is Building a Global Practice on Regional Wildfire and Heat Management

Representing Innovative Solutions to Fire and Urban Heat in the Los Angeles Region, the 3 Projects Selected Will Receive Pro Bono Technical Support from SCRI that Primes them for Funding Opportunities and Implementation

LOS ANGELES – 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation (100RC), in partnership with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, today announced the selection of three projects to join the Southern California Resilience Initiative (SCRI), following a competitive selection process. As Southern California rebuilds in the wake of the tragic Woolsey Fire, SCRI is working with the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, Ventura County, and nonprofit organizations Climate Resolve and TreePeople to strengthen the region’s preparedness for the reality of wildfire and extreme heat, as well as related climate threats. Today’s announcement represents a tactical step forward in this effort.

With support from the Hilton Foundation and led by 100 Resilient Cities, SCRI has commenced a year of activity to surface and pilot the world’s most innovative solutions to fire and urban heat in the Los Angeles region. The projects selected by SCRI will help to minimize the impact of severe weather events – which are projected to become more extreme, frequent, and costly in the years to come – and ensure that the region can “bounce back” more quickly when threatened by future events. Because the impacts of wildfires and other climate events are not confined to municipal boundaries, SCRI has focused on advancing projects that foster greater resilience to heat and wildfire events through coordinated efforts at the regional scale.

“The uncertainties of our future climate leave one thing clear: the communities of Southern California must be ready for an extended season of extreme heat and an environment even more vulnerable to wildfire,” said Samuel Carter, Director of 100 Resilient Cities’ Resilience Accelerator. “SCRI represents a forward-looking vision for preparing for this future, and we are thrilled to work with the three projects and partners in the months ahead.”

The Woolsey Fire, among the most destructive events in Southern California’s history, engulfed nearly 96,949 acres across Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, destroyed or damaged over 1,800 structures, took the lives of at least three people, and caused billions of dollars in damages and economic impact. The response and relief effort to manage events like these is complicated and costly. Completely containing the Woolsey Fire required dedicated resources from 16 coordinating agencies and millions of dollars in special expenses. Community recovery from this event will take years if not decades, and will demand an additional reserve of resources.

“We are proud to support the work of SCRI. It has been encouraging to see the excitement around these three selected projects, and how they will contribute to building greater climate resilience throughout the region,” shared Robert Miyashiro, program officer for the Hilton Foundation. “We look forward to our continued partnership in this innovative collaboration.”

“Climate Resolve is honored to participate in the Southern California Resilience Initiative,” said Jonathan Parfrey, executive director of Climate Resolve. “Although climate change is global phenomenon, the Southland is now acutely experiencing these climate effects. We’re seeing higher temperatures, bigger wildfires, deeper droughts and higher tides. Climate Resolve wants to help communities prepare for these impacts, and further help evacuees fleeing these emergencies. We are proud to partner on today’s launch event and honored to be selected as a core SCRI project.”

A key component of the Southern California Resilience Initiative involves building off resilience efforts undertaken in the City of Los Angeles, where 100RC partnered to develop and release the city’s first Resilience Strategy in March 2018, and using it to bolster capacity for regional collaboration. SCRI is already working to leverage global best practices from 100RC network cities across the globe, while supporting existing frameworks and identifying new opportunities for collaborative response to and preparation for fire and extreme heat events. Likewise, the selected projects hold potential to serve as models for best practices on fire management worldwide. Throughout the rest of 2019, SCRI will hold a sequence of convenings, tactical workshops, and design sprints that will prime the three selected projects for state and federal funding opportunities and successful implementation.

The three selected projects are:

Southern California Receiving Communities Project (SCRC)

In Southern California, the Woolsey Fire prompted the evacuation of 295,000 people – their destinations, and their current whereabouts, are largely unknown. Climate Resolve will work with local municipalities and partners in the region to design a project that will bring to California global best practices and innovations around refugees and internally displaced persons. Using the SCRI design process, this project will produce a strategy to examine the most likely climate impacts facing Southern California and the paths local “refugees” may take, and then prepare possible “receiving communities” – neighboring cities and towns that may absorb local populations displaced by wildfires and climate change, who are often caught unawares and do not have resources to adequately welcome displaced people.

Climate Emergency Planning and Preparedness Operations Center and Integrated Data Hub 

Agencies that manage natural resources, infrastructure, community engagement, emergency operations, and communications must be connected to collaboratively plan, fund, and implement adaptations long before disastrous events to ensure the safety, survival, and resilience of Southern Californians, especially as climate-influenced events intensify and overwhelm public infrastructure. Historically these entities have operated separately, resulting in disconnected, single-purpose solutions that ignore the connectivity needed to build resilience. Using TreePeople’s expertise in leading and supporting efforts that break down silos as well as best practices from 100RC cities across the globe, this project will develop a multi-purpose, multi-benefit Climate Emergency Planning and Preparedness Operations Center to produce and guide implementation of coordinated plans aimed at diminishing damage from climate-driven disasters, meeting the safety needs of Southern Californians and providing a transferable model from which others may learn. As part of this effort, to improve data sharing across agencies and municipalities in the region, Ventura County will lead efforts to create a centralized Data Hub. The Hub will leverage data sharing and collaboration to decrease redundant efforts in data gathering and increase availability of updated data for use in preparation, response and recovery from natural disasters.

Visualizing vulnerability across boundaries: LA County climate vulnerability assessment, codes, and land use tools

Building upon OurCounty, the first regional sustainability plan for the County of Los Angeles, this project will develop a climate vulnerability assessment (CVA) for the County, with a best-in-class focus on heat impacts. Analyzing climate vulnerabilities of both social and physical infrastructure, the assessment tool will guide priorities for investments in public health preparedness and response planning, community resiliency, building upgrades, infrastructure improvements, and building and zoning code changes. The project will also explore policy tools to reduce exposure to major risks by shifting development from high hazard to lower hazard areas. Through a key partnership with the City of Los Angeles, the CVA will identify vulnerabilities on social and physical infrastructure systems that cross city boundary lines, and presents a unique opportunity to foster new partnerships and collaborations among all 88 cities within the County.

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