FEMA Associate Administrator of Resilience Victoria Salinas shares how the agency is working to make the nation more resilient in a changing world.
Across the country – and around the world – our communities are already experiencing the devastating effects of climate change in events like intensified wildfires, drought and extreme heat, flooding, and coastal erosion.
In many ways, climate change will be the greatest challenge of this century and will require new ways of thinking, working, and partnering together to improve the outlook for future generations. Building resilience to the effects of climate change and, indeed all hazards, is an undertaking that involves every community, family, and individual. To meet this challenge, we’re creating new ways to unify FEMA’s many programs, operations, and resources.
Here are a few of those actions:
Critically Assessing Where We are Today, and What’s Needed
FEMA worked with federal partners and released two reports that outline the ways the federal government will improve access to tools and services that increase climate literacy.
The “Opportunities for Expanding and Improving Climate Information and Services for the Public,” report was developed by the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, NOAA, and FEMA and discusses opportunities for expanding and improving climate information and services for the public
The other report, “Advancing the Nation’s Geospatial Capabilities To Promote Federal, State, Local, and Tribal Climate Planning and Resilience,” created by the Federal Geographic Data Committee focuses on the role the federal government plays in providing geospatial data and mapping tools, and the potential for a collaborative mapping service to make climate data more accessible.
Together, these two reports provide a roadmap for how the federal government delivers useful and actionable climate information to those who need it, particularly disadvantaged communities where the impacts of climate change tend to be far greater.
Unifying efforts across FEMA
FEMA established a Climate Adaption Enterprise Steering Group to develop a unified agency approach to addressing climate change across all agency programs and operations. This group conducted assessment of barriers and opportunities, drawn input from contributors to the agency’s request for information on climate and equity, and held forums with experts to help shape FEMA’s strategic direction.
Making it easier to understand and address risk
FEMA’s National Risk Index is an online mapping tool that identifies communities most at risk to 18 natural hazards. This application includes data, that enable community planners to know where social and economic vulnerability intersect with disaster risk.
Updates to the “Building Codes Toolkit For Building Owners and Occupants” offer guidance and tools that teach about the process of making a building stronger. Enter your zip code into the Building Code Adoption Portal to check whether your jurisdiction has adopted the most recent codes.
Increasing investments in resilient infrastructure
Funding opportunities to prepare communities for climate-related extreme weather events are available through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant programs. Those grants include $1 billion for the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program, as well as $160 million for the Flood Mitigation Assistance grant program.
To ensure that the BRIC program is reaching the nation’s most disadvantaged communities, updates have been made in FY 2021 to the grant process, including a new priority to enhance climate resilience and adaptation and doubling the number of communities FEMA is offering technical assistance.
Increasing natural based solutions
Nature based solutions will also be key to reducing the impact of climate change. FEMA recently launched its first nature-based solutions website, with information on funding opportunities and resources to help communities implement nature-based solutions to build resilience to natural hazards, which may be exacerbated by climate change.
For more information on FEMA’s efforts to prepare communities for climate change, follow the above initiatives and visit Climate Change | FEMA.gov.