FEMA Announces Initial Initiatives to Advance Climate Change Resilience

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October 28, 2021

WASHINGTON -- Today, FEMA announced two key initiatives to advance climate change adaptation and promote disaster risk reduction and community resilience nationwide. The two initiatives are a Climate Adaptation Enterprise Steering Group and the stakeholder engagement process established to help develop the agency’s 2022-2026 Strategic Plan. These actions are the critical first steps in FEMA’s efforts to address the climate crisis. 

“Climate change is the crisis of this generation. Combating it, requires mitigating future risks and reducing impacts,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. “In partnership with federal science agencies, we are analyzing how climate change will increase the frequency and severity across all hazards, and what next steps are necessary to protect communities nationwide. FEMA is also advancing sustainability through our facilities, operations, and programs, including lowering emissions and promoting nature-based solutions.”

Communities across the country continue to witness the devastating and increasing impacts of hurricanes, floods, wildfires, droughts and other weather events. The increase and severity of disasters burden on our emergency management partners and disproportionately impact historically undeserved communities.  FEMA is working across the agency and with partners to identify a path forward.

The Climate Adaption Enterprise Steering Group is focused on developing a unified agency approach to address the impacts of climate change across all agency programs and operations. The steering group is co-chaired by leadership from FEMA’s Office of Response and Recovery, Office of Resilience and FEMA Regions.

FEMA is developing its 2022-2026 Strategic Plan through input from internal and external stakeholders. Following the recent Biden Administration Executive Orders on climate change, equity and environmental justice, FEMA will work with partners to increase climate literacy among emergency managers, build climate resilient communities and empower risk-informed decision making, all with a whole-of-community approach.

“As our nation confronts the impacts of climate change, the challenge is clear. It is imperative that we invest in building a more resilient nation. Our programs and policies must protect communities and the economy from the worst impacts of climate-related disasters before they occur,” Administrator Criswell added.

Increasing Additional Resilience Measures

FEMA continues to develop bold new initiatives to respond to the nation’s climate crisis through its existing authorities and responsibilities, including:

  • Developing FEMA’s National Risk Index, which utilizes sea level rise data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to provide an easy-to-use tool for identifying locations most at risk for 18 natural hazards. 
  • Funding opportunities to prepare communities for climate-related extreme weather events 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.
  • Expanding funding to advance mitigation. In total, more than $5 billion in is available to states and communities as FEMA also announced $3.46 billion in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds were authorized for all 59 Coronavirus 2019 major disaster declarations to invest in mitigation planning and projects that reduce risks from natural disasters.
  • Implementing the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard for all federal investments to improve the resilience of communities. FEMA issued an interim policy for requirements involving structures, partially implementing the standard.
  • Funding mitigation through FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program. This program is designed to assist homeowners to help them rebuild their disaster damaged homes and make them stronger and more resilience for the next disaster.   
  • Fixing inequities in flood insurance pricing and prepare for climate-related flooding, by updating the National Flood Insurance Program's pricing methodology through an initiative called Risk Rating 2.0 – Equity in Action.
  • Soliciting public comments through a Request for Information from communities, organizations and individuals about their concerns and recommendations to address environmental justice concerns. The period for comment closed on July 21 and the agency is processing the input received to provide responses, as well as consider the comments as part of developing the Strategic Plan.  
  • Advancing efforts to encourage the adoption of building codes through a tool kit and a Building Codes Executive Committee and Working Group. The new group aims to develop and implement an agency-wide strategy to integrate hazard resistant standards within nationwide building codes in conjunction with the American Society of Civil Engineers.
  • Hosting the sixth annual forum on climate action throughout the month of October in partnership with the Resilient Nation Partnership Network Forum and NASA. Attendees heard from a variety of speakers, including FEMA Administrator Criswell and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson as well as the White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, on strategies to build cross-sector, cross-government Alliances for Climate Action.
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