Phase 1: Explore, Define, and Initiate

The content presented here is a simplified version of the Adaptation Planning Guide. For the detailed full text, download the Phase 1 chapter.

Phase 1 Chapter

Explore resources in Adaptation Clearinghouse Database

Phase 1 Resources

Phase 1 outlines steps for exploring, defining, and initiating the adaptation planning process. The steps in this phase are numbered, although they do not always need to be completed in order.

For example, conducting outreach and engagement for residents and community stakeholders (Step 1.4) can occur much earlier in the process to involve interested community members from the very beginning of the planning process.

In some instances, it may be helpful to work on multiple steps at the same time.

Figure 5 Steps in Phase 1
Figure 5. Steps in Phase 1

Step 1.1: Motivation and Scope

Clarify reasons for adaptation planning

Why is the Community conducting an adaptation planning process?

Communities embark on an adaptation planning process for different reasons, and it is helpful to identify what motivated the process as well as what the process will address and how it will be done. This information is helpful to all participants and stakeholders and provides transparency to the process. Some of the more common motivators are:

    The community has recently experienced a climate-related disaster or has concerns about a specific future disaster.

There may be multiple reasons for an adaptation planning effort. Identifying the motivator(s) early in the process helps to identify potential stakeholders, how the community will view the adaptation planning process and its outcomes, how to implement outcomes, and how to measure success.

Identify desired outcomes of process

What is the plan or project resulting from the adaptation planning process?

Scoping the planning process includes determining how to publish, adopt, and implement the results. Adaptation work typically becomes part of one of three main categories of planning mechanisms (Figure 6):

    The comprehensive plans establish a framework and overarching guidelines for adaptation planning and implementation.

Though adaptation planning can usually be worked into existing planning mechanisms, sometimes communities may want to develop a new mechanism (such as a dedicated climate adaptation plan) in response to the adaptation planning effort. Either way, it is important to ensure consistency across plans and programs.

The adaptation planning process presented in Phases 1 through 4 of the APG can result in one or more of the above plans or outcomes. The APG focuses on three outcomes of a local adaptation planning process:

  1. Safety element and/or other elements of a general plan
  2. Stand-alone climate action or adaptation plan
  3. Local hazard mitigation plan

Communities are not limited to integrating adaptation planning work into these three mechanisms, and the California Government Code § 65302(g)(4) allows for any plan or document containing this information to meet the state’s requirements. However, in practice, the general plan, climate action or adaptation plan, or local hazard mitigation plan are the most commonly used options to ensure that climate adaptation is addressed in a holistic and fully integrated way. The Introduction of this guide provides more information about these local planning efforts.

Figure 6 Types of Plans and Programs
Figure 6. Types of Plans and Programs

Define resilience

What does adaptation and resilience mean to the community?

The goal of adaptation planning is to improve community resilience in the face of a changing climate. A resilient community is one that is prepared for current and future hazard conditions and experiences less harm when disasters happen. Resilient communities can also recover more quickly and thoroughly. They rebuild in a way that accounts for continuing climate changes, rather than rebuilding the same way as before. Adjusting adaptation planning in response to new information and opportunities through ongoing learning and monitoring is important to resiliency.

Resilience is a process or ideal that a community works toward. There will not be a moment when resiliency is fully achieved and the community can stop working on adaptation. However, a vision of what resilience means for the community can act as a guidepost for adaptation planning. If the community does not have an established vision for climate change adaptation and resilience, it may help to engage all stakeholders to define resiliency, including agency staff (see Step 1.2), any advisory group or groups (see Step 1.2), external stakeholders (see Step 1.4), and decision-makers. Consider these factors when contemplating what resiliency looks like for the community:

    A resilient community is one in which all members of a community are able to effectively prepare for and recover from acute and chronic climate impacts. Ideally, all community members are equally resilient regardless of income, health, identity, education, and other socioeconomic factors. Removing all disparities is an aspirational goal and may be beyond what an individual community can achieve, but a resilient community should strive for confidence that all members of the community are prepared for and able to recover from climate change impacts.

Adaptation and the Emergency Management Cycle

Traditionally, when planning for disasters or other negative effects, planners think of a process of harmful events and recovery known as the emergency management cycle, which has four phases. Different planning mechanisms often exist to support these phases:

    Efforts that take place between disasters to reduce or eliminate the potential for harm caused by the negative event, with an emphasis on ensuring long-term resiliency.

Adaptation planning efforts can address all four phases of the emergency management cycle depending on community needs and characteristics, although for many communities the largest number of strategies will likely fall into the hazard mitigation phase. The types of strategies will also depend in part on the plans and programs that will result from the adaptation planning process. Some strategies may fall into multiple phases. Adaptation planners do not need to use this process as a framework for adaptation planning efforts, but it can be helpful to think about the full spectrum of topics that these efforts can address.

Community vision for adaptation and resilience

A vision statement captures what community members most value about their community and what they want their community to become. When drafting a vision statement, it is helpful to think about how the community will be similar or different in the future (e.g., in 10, 20, 30, or 50 years or more)—how it will function, what it will be known for, who will be served by the community and its services, what it will look like, what resources will be needed, and more.

Set the geographic and time frame boundaries

What is the geographic area?

The participating jurisdictions usually define the geographic area of the plan or project. For example, a city conducting adaptation planning efforts will focus on building resiliency within its city limits or sphere of influence. Similarly, a county’s efforts usually support adaptation in unincorporated areas within its boundaries. Regional governments may also conduct adaptation work for all jurisdictions in their area, and multiple jurisdictions may collaborate on regional adaptation work, creating a geographic area that spans multiple jurisdictions.

However, sometimes the planning area is not as clear cut as political boundaries. Adaptation planning for a natural resource or ecosystem—a watershed, for example—may need to cover a broad area that does not follow political boundaries. Even if the planning effort is limited to a specific area with defined boundaries (such as a state park), natural areas outside of these boundaries may need to be included to the extent possible to help ensure resiliency. Specific areas within a community, such as neighborhoods or defined frontline communities, may also be the focus of an adaptation planning effort. Frontline communities are populations that experience the impacts of issues such as environmental pollution, climate change, and the economic crisis first and most severely. They are most often communities of color and/or low-income.4

What is the time frame for the planning process?

Like all other planning efforts, adaptation planning requires time and effort. Considerations that can affect the time frame of the process are:

    Availability of local agency staff and other stakeholders who will lead and/or participate in the planning process.

What is the time frame for the plan or Project?

Figure 6 shows the different types of plans or programs that could incorporate the adaptation planning process. Each type has a time horizon. Adaptation planning efforts should look far enough ahead to evaluate the climate change effects that may affect systems and assets over the course of their lifetimes and contain policies that can adequately protect them. The adaptation planning process’s horizon should be long enough to ensure that the effort can build meaningful resiliency. For example, consider that many infrastructure systems and buildings are in use for at least 50 years, often longer.

The plan or program into which the adaptation planning will be integrated determines the time horizon though it does not need to limit or constrain consideration of long-term projections.

    General plan.
    20 to 40 years. Projections used to inform policies can go out to 2100.
    Climate action/adaptation plan.
    Varies, but usually at least to 2050, and often to 2100.
    Local hazard mitigation plan.
    5-year minimum, but often includes longer-term strategies.
    Specific plan.
    Varies depending on the project, but often 15 to 30 years.
    Capital improvement plan.
    1 to 5 years.

Projects created under a plan will most likely exceed the lifetime of the plan itself. For example, imagine a general plan adopted in 2015 that expires in 2040. A subdivision constructed in 2038 will likely still be around in 2070, long after the general plan expired and possibly even longer after the standards, codes, guidelines, and policies governing its construction were written. Adaptation planning efforts should consider the lifespan of projects that will be built or implemented under that plan when deciding on a time horizon.

Step 1.2: Teams and Resources

Assess capacity and needs

Consider the available resources for the planning process, including financing, technical resources, knowledge, and time, and what can be reasonably accomplished with them. This helps set realistic expectations for the planning effort and identifies any critical gaps that need to be filled.

What knowledge and technical resources are available?

In addition to obtaining the technical resources, it is also necessary that planners and other participants have the knowledge to understand and use these resources. For example, planners will need to know how to analyze the a dataset on local climate related hazards and interpret the results for it to be useful. Similarly, a scientific paper may provide detailed information about a relevant topic but may be written using technical jargon and academic language that is not easily understood by everyone. Determine if those conducting adaptation planning activities have the knowledge to work with the technical resources and prepare a useful end-product. If not, look at expanding the participants to include members with the necessary expertise or consider training opportunities to fill in knowledge gaps.

It can be helpful for communities to use a simple matrix to identify their capacity for adaptation planning. The Adaptation Capability Advancement Toolkit (ADAPT-CA) is one approach.5 Matrixes such as ADAPT-CA can also help with goal setting for adaptation planning efforts. After communities identify their current capacity for adaptation planning, they can figure out their deficits and draft goals to help them approach or achieve optimal conditions.

What is the budget for the planning process?

The budget should consider the needs of each phase, inclusive of the financial resources to support stakeholder engagement.

After estimating the budget, determine if existing general funds or other dedicated internal funds are available; if not, identify options for grants or external funding sources or partnerships. Communities may also be able to receive low-cost or free assistance from experts working pro bono or from a local university.

Assemble project team

Who will be on the project team?

The climate adaptation planning team provides institutional and technical knowledge and often supports stakeholder outreach and engagement.

As with any project, the team should include a mix of people from relevant agencies and organizations with a range of skills and responsibilities, but it should not be so big that management and coordination become difficult. The project team should have a primary point of contact or team leader who coordinates the process and team meetings. The team leader should be empowered to make recommendations and/or have direct access to decision-makers. If resources allow, the project team can be supported by an advisory group with a larger membership to include representatives of partner agencies and community organizations that provide subject matter expertise and credibility to the process. If a consultant team is hired to support the process, it should be involved in the project team as well.

A project team often includes members of other departments under the same organization. For example, if the planning department of a city government conducts the adaptation planning effort, consider including members of the public works, parks and recreation, police, public health, and building departments. If special districts within the project boundaries play important roles, such as a fire protection district, school district, or water district, consider including a representative from these districts on the project team. Given the scale, pace, complexity, and uncertainty of climate change impacts, adaptation planning necessitates inclusive, collaborative planning. Significant coordination across departments, particularly for larger jurisdictions, should occur when assessing vulnerabilities and developing, vetting, and prioritizing adaptation strategies. Such coordination will not only result in a more meaningful and comprehensive adaptation plan but can also help build staff capacity and buy-in for adaptation initiatives.

Community-based organizations and institutions, such as hospitals and colleges, may be part of a core project team. The core project team should also include organizations representing or departments serving vulnerable populations in the community. It should also be selective to reflect the community and include at least one or more trusted community representatives. In some cases, it can make sense to include representatives from applicable for-profit companies, such as utility companies or major employers.

Remember that the core project team is not everyone who will be involved in the process. A larger group will be involved in other ways, perhaps participating in broad and focused community and stakeholder engagement, such as public meetings, or being on an advisory or focus group. Outreach and engagement are discussed in Step 1.4 of this phase.

When deciding who to include in a core project team, consider these questions:

  • Does this person bring important information or skills, especially a person identified as a useful technical or knowledge resource?
  • Does this person represent a population group that will be included in the vulnerability assessment or an agency with some responsibility or control over an included asset?
  • Can this person be involved over the length of the planning process?
  • Is this person empowered to make decisions in support of the process?

Teams integrating adaptation planning into local hazard mitigation planning should include a comprehensive set of stakeholders from government departments, decision-making bodies, and regional or special districts. The following stakeholders should have an opportunity to be part of the process:6

  • Local and regional agencies involved in hazard mitigation activities.
  • Agencies that have the authority to regulation development.
  • Neighboring jurisdictions.
  • Businesses, academia, and other private and nonprofit interests.

If possible, adaptation planning processes should not be conducted by a single person. Even communities with a dedicated resilience expert should assemble a team to conduct integrated adaptation planning activities.

Identify tools and resources

What are the available tools and resources?

Adaptation planning can seem overwhelming, especially for participants who have limited experience with the subject. Although it is a very broad and often complex topic, there are numerous resources to make adaptation planning easier to understand and carry out. These resources range from scientific datasets about future climate conditions and associated climate change effects, to example resiliency strategies and considerations for implementation.

When scoping an adaptation planning effort, consider if there are any technical resources that participants do not have access to. If there are missing technical resources, be sure to devote time in the project to locate them.

This guide is meant to be a “hub” between the different adaptation planning resources that are available. It is not meant to be comprehensive or replace these resources, but to inform about how best to use them and how they relate to each other.

Step 1.3: Climate Effects and Community Elements

Identify climate effects

What are the Potential Climate Change Effects in The Community?

In this phase, the goal is to compile a preliminary list of potential climate change effects to help support project scoping. The detailed vulnerability assessment is completed in Phase 2, which is when detailed climate data is accessed and analyzed. Not every community will be affected by all potential climate-related hazards and effects, and communities need to select which should be included in the adaptation planning process.

There is no comprehensive list of all climate-related hazards or other effects, but several existing resources provide lists that may be a good starting point (see Table 5). Communities should not be restricted to the lists from these and other resources.

Table 6 presents examples of how some communities and government agencies across California have organized the natural hazards in their climate adaptation efforts.

Table 6. Examples of Lists of Climate Hazards in Climate Adaptation Efforts
City of Santa Cruz Sacramento Municipal Utility District
Sea level rise
Severe storms and weather
Coastal erosion
Ocean acidification
Saltwater intrusion
Increased temperature
Food and fuel/energy availability
Coastal habitat loss
Altered ecosystems
Altered coastal access
Altered public trust resources
Ambient temperature rise
Wind patterns
Sea level rise and flooding
Storm events
Town of Mammoth Lakes San Diego County
Extreme heat
Forestry pests and diseases
Human health hazards
Landslides and mudflows
Severe weather
Severe winter weather
Smoke and ash
Increased temperatures
Precipitation pattern changes
Sea level rise

Select populations and assets

What are the populations and assets in the community?

Climate change does not have the same effects in all parts of a community. Some people and physical assets will be affected much more severely than others, and adaptation planning efforts need to evaluate the full range of potential effects. Communities should select the specific populations and assets to assess in order to clearly understand how susceptible different people, places, and systems of the community are to climate change–related hazards and other effects. This allows the community to develop adaptation policies that respond to specific climate vulnerabilities and build resiliency for the most susceptible people and assets in the community. Similar to identifying climate change effects themselves, the goal here is to compile a preliminary list of potential populations and assets to help support project scoping and the other steps of this phase. The detailed vulnerability assessment, including asset mapping, is completed in Phase 2.

Populations and assets are usually organized into a handful of categories or sectors. For consistency with Safeguarding California and the California Adaptation Clearinghouse, the APG organizes by 11 sectors.

Communities are free to use an organizing approach that better meets local needs. For example, Placer County used the following categories in its adaptation planning efforts for identifying populations and assets:7

  • Populations
  • Infrastructure
  • Buildings and Facilities
  • Economic Assets
  • Ecosystems
  • Services

Regardless of how they are organized, virtually all people and assets in a community will be affected by climate change in some way. However, it is not usually feasible to assess the vulnerability of every population group or every asset in the community. At the same time, adaptation planners should ensure that their assessment does not exclude populations and assets that face greater harm or are critical to the community’s well-being.


To help decide which groups of people to evaluate for climate-related susceptibility, focus on populations who are likely to face the most harm from climate change. These persons are sometimes said to be “socially vulnerable” or to have “social vulnerability.” This does not mean that they lack resilient qualities. A person may be vulnerable to climate-related consequences but have very strong social networks and community involvement, which improve individual resiliency. It also does not mean that they are responsible for their vulnerability or that they could have made different choices that would have improved their resiliency. Many socially vulnerable people have historically faced, and continue to face, systemic social, economic, and political marginalization and injustice. By identifying groups that are socially vulnerable, communities acknowledge the systemic discrimination that many such persons have faced and seek to correct these wrongs and build resiliency in a manner that is equitable and just.

There are many reasons why some groups of people are more susceptible to climate-related hazards—limited access to financial resources, health challenges or disabilities (physical, cognitive, behavioral, and all other forms), living or working conditions that result in greater exposure to hazard events, physical or social isolation, historical and current marginalization or deprivation of resources, and reduced agency or ability to make decisions. These are all factors that can lead to a greater potential for harm, and many people fall into more than one category.

When selecting populations for an adaptation planning effort, consider the underlying factors that contribute to a group being potentially susceptible. It may help to combine populations that have similar root issues, are likely to face similar levels of vulnerability and may benefit from similar adaptation solutions. For example, it might make more sense for a community to assess low-income households (<80 percent of area median income), very low-income households (<50 percent), and extremely low-income households (<30 percent) in one category. Other communities might benefit from evaluating these three groups separately. A group of potentially susceptible people should not be excluded simply because it represents a small percentage of the total population. However, it may not be possible to accurately assess the vulnerability of a very small number of people. If there are extremely small groups who should be included in the adaptation planning efforts, consider combining them with another group, as appropriate.

For more guidance on selecting populations for climate adaptation planning, and to foster equity in implementation, see the Vulnerable Populations and Equity Checklist appendices of Planning and Investing for a Resilient California and the ICARP guide, Defining Vulnerable Communities in the Context of Climate Adaptation.


There are many reasons to include built assets (buildings, infrastructure systems, developed land uses, important economic drivers, etc.) in an adaptation planning effort. Some built assets are used daily by a large percentage of the population and their damage or loss would significantly disrupt community members. Some built assets provide important services, such as delivering water or electricity. Some employ many people in the community or attract large numbers of visitors, and the community would face economic hardship if the asset had to limit its operations or close. Other built assets, such as local landmarks or historically/culturally significant locations, may not provide tangible benefits but are a source of community pride. Also, consider built assets not only for t ht6heir day-to-day performance, but for their value during or after a major emergency. For example, people may not think of their local community hall or recreation center as a critical asset, but during emergency events, these buildings can be assembly points, shelters, and bases of operations for response and recovery operations.

Considerations for Built Assets:

    When developing the individual categories of built assets, consider whether similar assets should be grouped together or evaluated separately. It may make sense to evaluate separately very important assets or those whose loss would be highly disruptive. For example, communities can generally group roadways into one category, but it may make sense to evaluate each major roadway or highway individually. If a handful of similar built assets face different potential harms (for example, multiple hospitals or wastewater treatment plants in different parts of the community that are exposed to different climate-related hazards), it might also be helpful to evaluate these separately.

    Consider whether it is helpful to evaluate the service a built asset provides separately from the buildings or infrastructure that provide the service. Although they seem related, the two could experience different degrees of vulnerability to natural hazards and require different adaptation solutions. For example, a drought can significantly affect water deliveries in the community, even if it causes no physical damage to the water infrastructure. A hospital might survive a severe storm event with no damage or loss of capacity, but emergency medical response service can be harmed by blocked or damaged roadways.


These assets include natural ecosystems as well as assets that seem natural but are closely controlled by humans, such as agricultural lands and managed timberlands. They can include the land or water itself, the plant and animal communities that live there, and less tangible benefits such as healthy biodiversity. Paleontological or geological resources could also be included in this category, including those that are extracted for economic benefits.

Reasons to Include Natural Assets:

    Many of these assets are defining characteristics of the community and the region and are considered invaluable to the people who live there. In a state with such diverse and prized natural systems, natural and managed resource assets can have tremendous symbolic value and be an enormous source of pride.

    In many communities, these assets directly or indirectly employ large numbers of people in recreation, tourist-serving activities, agriculture and food processing, and other economic sectors.

    Natural and managed resource assets can also provide critical ecosystem services, such as dunes and wetlands that help buffer coastal communities from storm surges and high tides.

For guidance on engaging the community in identifying assets and participatory mapping exercises, see Phase 2, Step 2.5, Outreach and Engagement.

Step 1.4: Prepare an Equitable Outreach and Engagement Approach

Outreach and Engagement

The APG recommends integrating community outreach and engagement into all phases of the adaptation planning process. This will build trust between the core planning team and community stakeholders and develop a plan that has collective support. Outreach and engagement should be considered carefully and budgeted appropriately. The approach should include stakeholders within the organization or agency leading the adaptation planning process, and those external to the organization or agency.

Many resources are available to support preparation of an outreach and engagement approach.

    • The Regional Resilience Toolkit provides guidance on principles for successful engagement and tactical tools that are applicable to the APG’s adaptation planning process.
    • California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment Summary Report from Tribal and Indigenous Communities details how to better partnership with tribal communities, provides case studies, and recognizes traditional ecological knowledge. All local agencies should conduct intentional outreach to engage or partner with tribal communities. The Governor’s Tribal Advisor Office has links to numerous state agencies’ policies or procedures and some additional helpful resources.
    • The Government Alliance on Race and Equity has resources available to local governments to help staff to address race, equity, and justice.10
    • The Urban Sustainability Directors Network has also developed guidance related specifically to climate risk and vulnerable populations. See Figure 7 for an example.11
    • The Local Government Commission’s guidebook Participation Tools for Better Community Planning provides an overview of public participation tools that can help communities plan for health-promoting land use and transportation, with a focus on lower-income, underserved communities, along with an examination of the value of resident involvement and the key principles for successful community planning.12
    • The Institute for Local Government offers an Inclusive Public Engagement toolkit that includes tipsheets and resources to effectively plan and implement inclusive engagement strategies.
    • The California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) and PlaceWorks’ SB 1000 Implementation Toolkit provides best practices for promoting meaningful community engagement throughout environmental justice planning processes, and guidance on how to develop environmental justice objectives and policies in general plans. Many of the practices presented are applicable to engaging communities on climate adaptation.
    • From Community Engagement to Ownership, a project of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, offers case studies and best practices for collaborative governance, including an expanded spectrum of community engagement to ownership prepared by the Facilitating Power and Movement Strategy Center.

As mentioned in Step 1.2, Assemble Project Team(s) and Resources, it can be beneficial to assemble a core project team with a mix of representatives from various government departments, community-based organizations, public institutions, hospitals, colleges, utility companies, and/or major employers. Team members play a critical role in the process, providing institutional and technical knowledge and supporting external stakeholder outreach and engagement.

Additionally, it is helpful if all members of the core planning team are trained in outreach before engaging stakeholders. Topics such as cultural humility, racism, and systems of injustice are issues that some may not be used to addressing in relation to climate risk, but it is critical to understand those power dynamics when working with vulnerable populations. For example, Figure 7 shows how populations deal with underlying structural root causes, social factors, and biological factors that could contribute to increased sensitivity to climate change. Understanding these causes and factors before the outreach process helps create avenues of communication and builds trust between the project team and the community.

The Government Alliance on Race and Equity is one organization that has resources available to local governments to help staff understand race, equity, and justice and to integrate it into their work.13

Figure 7 Root Causes and Factors
Figure 7. Root Causes and Factors Affecting Sensitivity to Climate Change Source: Tina Yuen, Eric Yurkovich, Lauren Grabowski, and Beth Altshuler, Guide to Equitable Community-Driven Climate Preparedness Planning, prepared for Urban Sustainability Directors Network, May 2017, page 12, accessed November 2019.

After assembling the core planning team, it is essential to enlist residents, businesses, students, and other community groups because they have knowledge, information, and ideas that local governments may not know or anticipate. Community members most affected by climate issues can collaborate on solutions, which can result in more effective implementation. It is key to empower community member that they have a sense of co-ownership in the planning process.

The project team and/or consultant should prepare an approach or plan for community and stakeholder engagement, with support from the advisory group if one is assembled. The plan can be simple, brief, and flexible to adapt over time.

    • Identify stakeholders (stakeholder mapping is one method).
    • Determine culturally specific outreach needs and strategies.
    • Link planning and outreach messages to community values and needs.
    • Develop outreach goals for each stakeholder group and the broader community.
    • Establish how to engage individuals and groups best and specify objectives and roles.
    • Define the specific methods to most effectively engage each group: in a meeting, via digital communications, one-on-one, or through partners or other groups.
    • Detail how these activities will integrate with other planning efforts.
    • Determine need, objectives, and composition for an advisory group.
    • Determine the focus and purpose of each event, meeting, and input opportunity.
    • Provide a schedule with objectives and roles for each activity.14

The Regional Resilience Toolkit includes a sample outline in Appendix B for an outreach and engagement plan and tools and worksheets to support outreach tools, materials, activities, and meetings.

Public-Private Partnerships

Local agencies can engage with the business community to support adaptation planning and implementation. Protecting a healthy local economy is a critical part of maintaining a community’s long-term resilience, and many businesses recognize the threat that climate change may pose to their activities and financial health. Businesses also can provide increased investments and other resources that may not always be available to individual communities. This creates opportunities for businesses and local governments to join or create public-private partnership to address resilience issues. Opportunities for public-private partnerships include creating an economic working group or advisory body, establishing training and capacity-building opportunities such as resilience or continuity planning workshops, and setting adaptation standards for permitting new private developments. Communities can join with local businesses as well as larger companies that may be able to meaningfully contribute to local efforts. Local governments should consider how best to use public-private partnerships to support comprehensive community adaptation efforts, because businesses may be able to bolster resilience for other stakeholders and members of the community. Local governments can consider how best to weigh the needs of businesses along with the requirements of other community members.

Stakeholder Mapping

The engagement process should be inclusive and multidisciplinary. It should include people at varying levels of authority, including those empowered to make recommendations and decisions and representatives of governmental and nongovernmental organizations. Stakeholder identification and mapping supports an equitable outreach and engagement approach. Stakeholder mapping is the process of visualizing relationships and prioritizing engagement efforts through understanding perspectives and interests in the community. The Regional Resilience Toolkit includes template worksheets to do this.16 For each stakeholder, the project team should decide who should be involved; what their role will be in the process and the plan implementation; and how, when, and how often they should be engaged (see Figure 8).

Furthermore, stakeholder mapping should list vulnerable populations to assess how they will be involved. As mentioned in Step 1.3, vulnerable populations can include chronically ill persons, foster children, incarcerated persons, linguistically isolated persons, low-income persons, persons experiencing homelessness, persons in designated disadvantaged communities, persons in overcrowded households, persons with disabilities, persons without access to lifelines, renters, senior citizens, single female heads of households, students, tribal communities, undocumented persons, visitors and seasonal residents, and young children.

Creating Outreach Activities

Keeping stakeholder mapping in mind is important for each outreach and engagement activity. Moreover, the core planning team should determine what they are trying to achieve and help manage what the public should expect. It is helpful to think of each outreach and engagement activity as part of a spectrum. See Table 7 for the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) Spectrum.17, 18

The IAP2 spectrum is a theoretical model for varying levels of participation and engagement and is not a specific recommendation for any one set of activities or goals. Local agencies and communities need to decide what level of engagement is appropriate to facilitate community participation in decision-making.

Core activities and characteristics necessary to building a diligent and robust public engagement process include:

  • Providing educational opportunities.
  • Soliciting community input.
  • Maintaining a direct method of communication with the community specifically for the climate adaptation planning effort.

Outreach can include, but is not limited to, meetings for specific topics or geographic areas, online engagement, roundtables, forums, community festivals, workshops, or pop-up events.

Phase 1 Wrap-Up

This initial phase of the adaptation planning effort helps establish what the adaptation work involves and why communities are conducting it. This phase also includes figuring out who will be part of the work, the tools and resources available, and the types of analyses that the community will conduct. Making these decisions at the beginning of the process helps make the rest of the work more efficient and puts all participants on the same page. With the scoping work out of the way, communities can move on to the next phase of adaptation planning, which is assessing vulnerability, as discussed in the following chapter.