Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Communities Coordinate Efforts to Avoid Worst Effects of Climate Change
July 30, 2022
Sometimes it’s hard for me to watch images of melting infrastructure across Europe, fatal flooding in Sudan, sinkholes from storms in New York, wildfires in California and excessive heat across the Midwest with anything but a sense of growing dread. Dread, anxiety and grief are all valid emotional responses to climate disruption. There are many strategies for building resiliency around these emotions, and often one effective antidote is engaging in coordinated frontline efforts to avoid climate change’s worst effects.
That’s why Green Umbrella is bringing together local governments and community-based organizations from across Greater Cincinnati to form the Regional Climate Collaborative, a 10-county initiative to collectively design and implement equitable climate solutions at the local level. Our cities, villages, townships and counties are often the first responders – they repair the damage from flooded streets, protect their most vulnerable citizens from dangerous heat, and endure the budgetary impacts of an uptick in climate-related disasters.
These challenges make them especially well-equipped to find solutions. Greater Cincinnati is joining regions across the country – more than 30 so far – that have come together to form Regional Climate Collaboratives. Local governments are uniquely motivated to find solutions in partnership with each other. They don’t have the luxury of arguing over the finer points of policy when floods and heat are upending their residents’ lives and harming the businesses that contribute to their tax base. And those floods, landslides, and heat don’t respect the borders between neighboring communities – a superstorm in Northern Kentucky is likely to damage cities in Hamilton, Clermont, Warren and Butler counties, too.
Regional Climate Collaboratives build on these networks to share best practices, align efforts, and pool resources in a way that amplifies results. Elected officials can learn from local/national technical experts and then explain policy decisions to constituents, while advocates can build grass-roots support and enlist supporters from neighboring communities. We all benefit when our local governments and associated organizations combine efforts on an issue as critical and existential as climate change.
Our July 21 launch event is bringing together over 150 participants and speakers from across the region who are working in different capacities to mitigate the effects of climate change. But our launch is just the beginning of an effort we hope will build resilience and environmental capacity across our region. For it to succeed, we need the help of residents, community-based organizations, business representatives and especially local governments across the region to participate in a wide range of opportunities:
A survey we’re launching will help the Collaborative understand how climate change is affecting communities, their residents and businesses. Please consider taking the survey and sharing it with others.
The Regional Climate Collaborative is forming working groups to address the most urgent challenges and opportunities that emerge from our survey and other initial efforts – including building local capacity, centering equity, community listening and engagement, and more. We’re also planning to develop a Regional Climate Action Playbook to document best practices and help cities, villages, townships and counties kickstart or advance their work.
We plan to launch a resilience fellowship program inspired by Indiana’s Resilience Cohort that will embed trained personnel in local governments where they can most effectively lend assistance, conduct community engagement and bring climate efforts to fruition.
Finally, we need individuals and organizations who value this work and understand the immense benefits it brings to support this Climate Policy work financially.
The Regional Climate Collaborative will equip those on the front lines of addressing climate change to learn from each other and form collective responses. It will direct help where it’s needed most and where it can have the greatest impact: in the cities, villages, townships and counties where we live and work. Join us to ensure this initiative has the greatest possible impact, both today and for future generations.
Savannah Sullivan is climate policy director for Green Umbrella.