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Kresge recommits to helping cities build resilience in the face of climate change

Environment, General Foundation News

The Kresge Foundation’s Environment Program will continue its focus on helping U.S. cities build resilience in the face of climate change after the Kresge Board of Trustees affirmed the program’s goal and direction following a strategy review.

Trustees approved minor modifications to the program’s strategy that represent a clarification of desired outcomes as opposed to a significant shift in direction.

An image of the Kresge Board of Trustees in Miami during an Environment Program refresh
Members of Kresge’s Board of Trustees and staff tour the Miami area to get a first-hand look at the effects of climate change in south Florida. The board affirmed the Environment Program’s revised goal and strategy while meeting there.

The program’s revised goal is to help cities implement comprehensive climate-resilience approaches grounded in equity.  The program will support work in three focus areas:

  • Building the capacity and commitment of urban leaders across sectors to advance equitable climate resilience.
  • Strengthening the evidence base for acting on climate change and developing tools for urban leaders to drive widespread adoption of equitable climate resilience strategies.
  • Transforming key urban infrastructure critical to climate resilience, focusing on energy and water systems.

A comprehensive approach to climate resilience includes reducing a community’s contribution to heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation); preparing for the impacts of climate change that can no longer be avoided, such as flooding, intense storms and high heat (adaptation); and strengthening the connections between people and institutions within a community (social cohesion).

Information on the Environment Program’s strategies is available on the program’s web page.

Lois DeBacker, managing director of the Environment Program, said seismic changes in the federal policy landscape make the climate-resilience work supported by Kresge even more important. “While the political context is now more challenging, the urgency to act on climate change remains, as does the imperative to ensure that low-income people and communities of color are meaningfully engaged in decision-making processes relevant to climate resilience.”

“We’re heartened by the fact that strong city leadership, private sector momentum and investment and community-level work on climate resilience continue to move forward,” DeBacker said.

DeBacker said the program will put renewed effort into the capture and dissemination of promising practices, use of multiple forms of capital to leverage change, and explicit consideration of racial equity in climate-resilience efforts.