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Planning Tools for Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience: Lessons from Natural Hazard Mitigation Planning. Erica Hetzel & Erica Largen UAP 4364: Environmental Planning Seminar. CONTENTS. Rationale: Climate Adaptation from Natural Hazard Mitigation The Climate Imperative

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Erica Hetzel & Erica Largen UAP 4364: Environmental Planning Seminar

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Erica hetzel erica largen uap 4364 environmental planning seminar

Planning Tools for Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience: Lessons from Natural Hazard Mitigation Planning

Erica Hetzel & Erica Largen

UAP 4364: Environmental Planning Seminar

Erica hetzel erica largen uap 4364 environmental planning seminar


  • Rationale: Climate Adaptation from Natural Hazard Mitigation

  • The Climate Imperative

  • Key Terms

  • Natural Hazard Mitigation Planning

  • Specific Lessons

  • Critical Issues

  • Emerging Trends

  • Community-Based Preparedness

  • Summary

Erica hetzel erica largen uap 4364 environmental planning seminar



  • environmental, political, social and economic circumstances: product of our culture - multidimensional problems

  • enhanced our ability to make collective best land use and management techniques & how to adapt to the environment

Key terms adaptation

Key Terms “Adaptation”

Adjustment in natural or human systems to a new or changing environment that exploits beneficial opportunities or moderates negative effects.

Key terms adaptive capacity

Key Terms “Adaptive Capacity”

The potential of a system to adjust to climate change, to moderate potential damages, to take advantage of opportunities, and to cope with the consequences. A society’s ability is a function of its adaptive capacity.

Key terms resilience

Key Terms “Resilience”

A capability to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover fromsignificant multi-hazard threats with minimum damage to social

well-being, the economy, and the environment.

Key terms mitigation

Key Terms “Mitigation”

Intercepting the impacts of a hazard or climate change. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions (climate change);weakening the effects (natural hazards)

Key terms vulnerability

Key Terms “Vulnerability”

The degree to which a system is susceptible to, or unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes.

  • Lessons from natural hazards and poverty

Key terms risk

Key Terms “Risk”

A combination of the magnitude of potential consequences of climate change impacts and the likelihood that these consequences will occur.

Risk = hazard + exposure + vulnerability

Hazard mitigation planning


  • Adapting to a changing climate may be new, but planning for and mitigating the effects of natural disasters is not.

  • Traditional natural hazard mitigation planning employs a top-down, techno-economic planning approach, with minor public participation.

Hazard mitigation planning1


  • Disaster: Government and humanitarian orgs provide Relief.

  • Rebuild: often in same place

    • potential for increased damages & greater need for relief in future.

  • The actual hazard, exposure to the hazard, vulnerability and risk are not adequately addressed

Erica hetzel erica largen uap 4364 environmental planning seminar

  • FEMA: rebuilding controls - to learn from experience.

  • Require plan to qualify for federal relief.

  • Promotes hazard-resilient communities

Federal history of hazard mitigation planning


  • Before 1950: state & local gov’ts & humanitarian orgs

  • Federal Disaster Relief Act in 1950

  • 1968: National Flood Insurance Act (NFIP)

  • Disaster Relief Act of 1974

  • 1979: FEMA created to coordinate disaster response that overwhelms state and local authorities.

  • 1988: Stafford Act gave FEMA responsibility to coordinate governmental relief efforts

  • Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000

Federal history of hazard mitigation planning1


  • We are more dependent on federal disaster relief than ever.

  • federal governmentfailing to provide more assistance allow rebuilding elsewhere

  • the root problem: communities exist in the way of natural hazards.

Lesson flood hazard mitigation


  • Hurricane Sandy: “environmental and public health disaster”

  • Millions of gallons of sewageinto NY and NJ waterways from crippled sewage treatment plants

  • $1.1 billion needed for repair

  • waterproof motors and electrical equipment above new flood levels + levees to keep from re-damaging costly improvements.

[The inadequacy of our infrastructure for increasingly stronger storm surges]

Lesson flood hazard mitigation1


  • Nonstructural controls: floodplain management, land acquisition, structure relocation [avoid future damages.]

  • Floodplain management: concentrating on new & existing development. New development is exposed to flooding & can result in flood level surcharge.

  • Structural controls: floodwalls & channel enlargement have prevented significant damage.

  • Total damage due has increased over time: increased property values and human occupancy of floodplains.

  • Structural solutions can never give complete damage protection but simply make disaster events less frequent  

Lesson flood hazard mitigation2


  • The costly repairs, equipment upgrades, and structural mitigation measures do not give complete disaster protection.

  • Must ensure effects of flooding are not further exasperated by new development in flood prone areas.

Lesson coastal barrier islands


  • Coastal barriers reduce vulnerability by defending against storm surges and hurricane-force winds. Foundations of a strong economy & healthy environment

Lesson coastal barrier islands1


  • The Coastal Barrier Resources Act of 1982 free market discouraging development for coastal resource conservation

  • Does not regulate how, but transfers the full cost of developing from federal taxpayers to those who choose to build.

    The CBRA’s Flaws:

  • Only applied to those islands yet to be developed.

  • Did not prevent developers from using their own money to build

    Holding the line on federal support? Virtually nothing to contain development. A deregulation serving private interests

  • There is urgency for proper policy formation.

Lesson wildfires


  • King County in 2007 Climate Plan provided resources to small-forest landowners to promote forest health and reduce forest fire risk.

  • UWA & WSU: partnership engages public through education in community training programs.

  • Providing useful resources to landowners -first step in protecting vegetative areas from natural hazards

  • U.S. Forest Service established National Wildland/Urban Interface Fire Program to mitigate wildfire hazards by education and technical assistance to community firefighters, urban planners, landscape architects, building designers, and contractors.

Lesson wildfires1


  • Economic incentives to private landowners to employ management practices that protect ecological health.

  • Implement smart growth policies and infill development in urban areas - transfer or purchase of development rights or use value assessment.

    To protect critical environmental areas is to reduce the vulnerability of populations, property, and resources to natural hazards and increase the resilience of the community to climate change.

Lesson resistance resilience and restoration


  • Oysters, once with populations in the trillions, used to provide protection to New Yorkers from storm surges and helped to stabilize the shoreline.

  • Broke up waves before they could reach the shore

  • Mined natural oyster beds for lime

    “But what is fairly certain is that storms like Sandy are going to grow stronger and more frequent, and our shorelines will become more vulnerable. For the present storm, all we could do was stock up on canned goods and fill our bathtubs. But for storms to come, we’d better start planting a lot more oysters”

Lesson resistance resilience and restoration1


  • Disturbances are the determining force for ecological components – populations, communities, and ecosystems.

  • Ecological restoration processes: restoring oysters to NY Harbor or protecting wetlands strengthen community resilience.

    • Wetlands mitigate flood damage, control shoreline erosion, improve water quality, & recharge groundwater

Lesson resistance resilience and restoration2


  • Strength increasing & endpoints are uncertain: resilience difficult to estimate.

  • Effective restoration takes time. Begin without the lengthy investigation for thresholds, a limit of techno-economic approach. Projects should be an adaptive management framework - effectively monitored though a long-term commitment

Critical issues


  • Political pressure to return communities to their pre-disaster impact state: adverse to adaptation in general.

  • Counter desire to make money

  • Top-down techo-economic intervention.

  • Resilience is more than a technical concept. Disasters are social in nature.

Emerging trends


  • Disaster planning to reduce vulnerability is evolving to include social dimensions and public participation.

  • Resilient Communities Should: plan for long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability, and by strengthening neighborhood and organizational capacity”

    Hurricane Katrina illustrated the need for a strong social fabric and resilient economy, including the most vulnerable groups and can rebound from impacts for public services.

  • Requires: sound infrastructure, coordinated private risk management plans, and first-rate disaster planning, training, and awareness programs.

Policy changes


  • Power relations, structures, and access to resources exacerbate pressures

  • Policy change is needed to employ adaptive hazard mitigation

    (1) policy advocacy coalitions?

    (2) policy streams and windows ?

    (3) punctuated equilibrium?

  • Exposure to a hazard can influence learning. The social or economic crisis can make the issue important politically, thereby motivating policy change.

  • Persuasion by respected actors and collective action were key to national response

Poverty reduction


  • Socio-political and physical processes at different spatial and temporal scales produce vulnerability though causal factors (exposure, sensitivity, and resilience or ability to respond).

Who is most vulnerable to the impacts? How interactions between society and nature create degrees of vulnerability?

Community based disaster preparedness and climate adaptation


Community-based and preemptive approaches:

  • focus on the root causes of vulnerability rather than isolated disaster events build to local capacity for resilience.

  • Participant empowerment and the transmission of ideas from the bottom up

  • Cost effectiveness.

  • Social capital is considered

  • Applied to multiple objectives for disaster prevention, sustainable development, and institution-building

  • To shape cultural institutions and contributions to policy.



  • What are the most important lessons we can learn from natural hazard mitigation planning to plan for climate change adaptation?

  • Is there still a role for top-down policy approaches when encouraging communities to become resilient?

  • Do we, as students graduating from Virginia Tech, have a role in planning for climate adaptation?



  • Planning for climate change resilience must address physical, economic, social, and political vulnerability to build social capital.

  • There is much to learn from Natural Hazard Mitigation Planning

  • The coordination and adaptive capacity (the ability to learn) among supporting agencies, groups, and citizens as well as through a multi-community dialogue will create more resilient communities.

Erica hetzel erica largen uap 4364 environmental planning seminar

The natural hazard planning can no longer take the reactive planning approach.

The global effects of climate change will produce frequent and more severe hazards and weather patterns.

“The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.”- Winston Churchill

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