Leadership & Organizational Culture
Fostering support for agency adaptation efforts through leadership and organizational culture ensures that adaptation is advanced throughout all levels of the agency. Leadership from agency executives and local elected officials is essential in driving adaptation, establishing adaptation as an agency priority can codify this leadership, and garnering the public and political support necessary to fund and pursue adaptation strategies. Targeted approaches must be taken in order to effectively motivate and mobilize leaders in different roles to work in collaboration towards shared adaptation goals. Cultivating adaptation leaders and building a culture that values adaptation are long-term investments that are needed to effectively respond to future climate variabilities, the cascading and compounding nature of climate impacts, and the quickly evolving adaptation space in California. Creating a culture that values internal coordination and empowers staff at all levels can enable an organization to more smoothly and effectively advance adaptation efforts throughout communities.
Review climate adaptation plans of other government agencies to identify policies, begin to coordinate between departments on adaptation, and prepare overview briefing for executive leadership on adaptation.
|Identify and informally reach out to executives about climate change risks.|
|Identify executives (e.g. agency leaders and department heads) that would recognize the importance of addressing climate change risks and adaptation concerns. Consider starting with department heads of climate-sensitive sectors (e.g. Emergency Management, Planning, Public Health, and Public Works).
Provide justification for work on climate adaptation. Prepare overview briefing and speaking points for executive leadership on incorporating adaptation in agency activities. Broadly articulate local and regional climate change risks (e.g. extreme heat, displacement, depleted water resources) and the value proposition of investing in adaptation activities by drawing on existing resources. Highlight policies and mandates such as SB-379 that require local governments to consider climate impacts and develop adaptation strategies in their General Plan. Draw from recent impacts from extreme weather events to demonstrate potential consequences of future changes in climate.
Review leadership programs and principles from other communities to identify potential leadership peers to share with executives. Demonstrate how other jurisdictions are taking action to adapt to climate change (e.g. share existing resources or news updates from other jurisdictions).
|Identify priorities and interests of elected officials and connect to climate change.|
|Demonstrate how climate change is connected to local elected officials’ priorities by:
|Identify models of strategic plans and goals related to adaptation.|
|Review strategic plans and goals from other local governments that have incorporated adaptation to identify replicable strategic policies. Review adaptation principles and approaches that have already been developed/are being utilized by other jurisdictions and prepare a summary. Prioritize reviewing plans and goals from municipalities that share similar climate risks or community characteristics and are located in the same region if possible.|
|Internal adaptation champions undertake informal efforts on coordination and collaboration.|
|Engage across departments on adaptation-related efforts on an ad hoc, project-by-project basis by:
Create a list of departments whose work may be sensitive to climate change risks and/or might be involved in adaptation-related initiatives (e.g. Emergency Management, Planning, Public Health, and Public Works). Conduct a stocktaking of departments’ adaptation-related activities to date, share among departments, and identify opportunities for efficiencies and collaboration.
Identify climate change risks (e.g. extreme heat) that require or can benefit from coordination across multiple departments (e.g. public health, emergency management, and transportation). Begin to engage departments around these priority risks.
|Identify ad hoc opportunities to build internal awareness about climate change and resilience.|
|Review existing programs and organizational activities to find connections to climate change (e.g., leverage transit employee benefit programs and employee wellness programs to encourage walking and biking instead of driving).
Identify existing internal climate change mitigation efforts (e.g., energy conservation) or related efforts that can be leveraged to provide an entry point to raise awareness about climate impacts and adaptation.
Provide regular updates to agency leadership, begin to identify agency goals into which adaptation could be incorporated, and establish semi-regular meetings for departments to discuss adaptation status and upcoming opportunities.
|Deepen agency executives’ understanding of climate change adaptation.|
|Adaptation champions begin to develop relationships and lines of communication with agency executives to gain support for adaptation program. Ask for input and feedback when developing, refining, and implementing adaptation initiatives, to generate buy-in throughout the process.
Educate executives on the value of conducting a vulnerability assessment and addressing climate vulnerabilities (e.g. provide a summary of how climate risks could impact agency priorities and community well-being). Consider opportunities to coordinate with neighboring jurisdictions, academic institutions, or regional agencies to conduct a regional vulnerability assessment.
Provide more detailed briefings on why climate adaptation is important for the agency and the community (e.g. bottom line, service levels, public safety, inequality, public health, housing, transportation, risk management), particularly as it relates to their department and key responsibilities and interests.
Through standing reporting mechanisms, share existing programs and outcomes that are helping to make the community more resilient to show what implementation looks like and how it’s already a part of the community.
Provide opportunities for leaders to participate in existing climate programs to give them visibility and ownership over existing actions and activities. Identify high publicity events (e.g. social media, radio, blog posts) where leadership can get engaged.
|Deepen elected officials’ understanding of climate change adaptation.|
|Educate elected officials and their staff on the value of addressing climate vulnerabilities (e.g. provide a summary of climate change concerns from constituents). Provide a high-level map of risks by district or neighborhood to connect leadership constituency with vulnerability.
Provide more detailed briefings on why adaptation is needed to achieve community goals (e.g. public safety, public health, inequity, housing, transportation, education, homelessness, etc.).
Demonstrate the urgency of investing in resiliency by highlighting near-term climate risks (e.g. extreme heat, reduced water supplies, and increased risk of wildfires) and state laws and mandates (e.g. SB-379).
Regularly engage with elected officials and their staff to share updates on adaptation activities and opportunities for engagement in public-facing adaptation activities (e.g. by establishing consistent meetings and communication channel with elected officials’ staff).
|Identify areas within existing agency priorities and strategic goals where adaptation should be incorporated.|
|Compare local climate change projections with existing agency strategic goals to determine which goals may be harder to achieve under a changing climate. Prepare a summary of the identified climate risks and impacts for existing strategic goals/plans across departments, as well as the importance of building resilience and addressing climate risks to achieve the agency’s strategic goals.
Conduct an initial review of existing agency goals, policies, and plans across departments to highlight areas of misalignment with adaptation principles or where the connection to anticipated climate impacts, risks and vulnerabilities, and resiliency strategies can be strengthened.
Add climate adaptation as a standing agenda item in strategic meetings.
|Adaptation point person meets semi-regularly with champions and collaborators in other departments to discuss adaptation status and upcoming relevant initiatives.|
|Work with collaborators across departments to define roles in and approach to adaptation program.
Work with collaborators across departments to identify adaptation needs and opportunities for each department. Where appropriate, establish interdepartmental initiatives (e.g. recycled paper, green office stationary campaign, and energy saving campaign).
Frame discussions around efficiencies that may be gained from internal collaboration to avoid unnecessary duplication and leverage limited resources (e.g. maximize existing funding and streamline implementation).
Add adaptation coordination check-ins as an agenda item to standing interdepartmental meetings.
Have adaptation point person hold a round of briefings on adaptation with other departments.
|Work with leadership to implement opportunities to build internal awareness about climate change and resilience.|
|Develop or refine agency’s internal policies to incorporate climate change risks and impacts and use them to raise internal awareness about existing/emerging impacts and adaptation. For example, ask staff to unplug electrical equipment and pull down window shades during high heat days, and consider allowing staff to telecommute during extreme events (e.g. high heat days, high wind days, extreme precipitation events, etc.).
Identify opportunities through existing internal adaptation efforts to raise staff’s awareness on concepts of climate impacts, adaptation, and resilience (e.g. signage to communicate adaptation strategies on municipal property such as green infrastructure, drought-tolerant landscaping, and permeable paving).
If agency has a green team or committee, consider regularly working with members to identify opportunities to encourage individuals to take action in the office and at home to mitigate climate change (e.g. provide reusable water bottles, encourage electronic communication/file sharing, or provide fact sheet on day-to-day energy/water saving actions).
Consider implementing employee benefit programs that promote climate change mitigation and resilience such as shared solar purchase programs
Engage with agency leadership and elected officials to garner support on adaptation activities, develop a high-level set of adaptation goals or principles, formalize interdepartmental coordination efforts on adaptation, and empower staff to undertake adaptation efforts.
|Help executives become adaptation champions who provide strong leadership and institutional support for climate resilience.|
|Establish a standing multi-department committee on adaptation with agency staff, including executives.
Maintain discussions with executives to embed executive support for adaptation programs. Ensure that executives are consistently engaged in agency adaptation efforts (e.g. by establishing consistent meetings with executives to discuss and coordinate ongoing adaptation strategies).
Elicit executives’ immediate adaptation priorities and long-term goals.
Start to tie adaptation into departmental reporting to executives.
Integrate language on resiliency into scope of responsibilities of senior executive (e.g. City Manager) or senior department executive (e.g. Chief Resiliency Officer).
|Encourage elected officials to actively participate in adaptation-related activities.|
|Invite elected officials to participate in high-level strategic discussions regarding adaptation work.
Provide talking points to elected officials to navigate contentious adaptation strategies (e.g. managed retreats).
Provide talking points on adaptation co-benefits (e.g. improved local air quality) to help elected officials obtain constituency buy-in.
Identify opportunities to recognize elected officials’ participation in adaptation activities through public speaking engagements, sustainability award ceremonies, and news outlets.
Coordinate with external engagement activities (e.g. those conducted by local NGOs or community groups) to get the public more engaged in adaptation priorities, and to make the case to elected officials to work on adaptation.
Consider submitting op-eds that are co-authored with elected officials to news publications. This increases the likelihood of the article being published and can increase visibility around climate risks and resiliency strategies.
|Develop a high-level set of adaptation goals or principles for consideration and adoption.|
|Develop a strong, well-defined vision with a set of goals and measures that establish adaptation as core to local government operations. Incorporate community adaptation priorities into goals. Ensure there is executive buy-in on goals and measures, and seek to integrate the goals into agency projects and programs where possible as a starting place for longer term integration across major policy goals.
Work with executives to begin incorporating resilience into agency goals, such as by issuing an order or document stating agency support for climate resilience.
Develop agency or department-specific guidance on how to carry out these goals in agency processes and for specific sectors and departments. For smaller agencies with limited staff capacity, work with local NGOs engaged in the adaptation space to develop guidance.
|Formalize interdepartmental coordination efforts on adaptation.|
|Develop guidance and expectations for internal coordination on adaptation that includes key departments’ roles, meeting frequency, goals and objectives, and best practices. Ensure that collaboration goals align with overall adaptation roadmap goals. Document collaborator roles and responsibilities in the adaptation roadmap.
Continuously provide updates on adaptation initiatives within and across departments (e.g. through regular check-ins or listserv) to allow for the identification of potential interdepartmental collaborations.
|Highlight voluntary climate change measures that staff can take in the office and at home.|
|Connect staff with community-based organizations for volunteer opportunities on climate change education and mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Encourage staff to lead by example by implementing energy and water efficiency measures in their homes (e.g. create a friendly office competition to track efficiency measures taken by staff and provide toolbox of affordable energy/water saving measures).
Encourage staff to share climate change information with their personal networks, including their neighbors. Staff could work with their neighborhood associations to identify neighborhood-level vulnerabilities and adaptation strategies (e.g. identifying nearby cooling centers).
Provide talking points for staff to discuss climate risks and adaptation needs with their personal networks and include appropriate responses to pushback on climate change.
Integrate adaptation strategies and goals into agency’s community-wide vision and plan, establish a robust system to foster adaptation learning and collaboration, and empower leadership and staff to champion climate resilience.
|Establish mechanisms to ensure continuity of strong executive support as elected officials and executive staff change.|
|Embed adaptation initiatives within local government policies and existing processes, which can ensure continuity of initiatives despite staff change. Seek buy-in from all executives (e.g. have executives sign a commitment statement on pursuing climate adaptation as an agency) and incorporate adaptation into department-level goals to build momentum and withstand changes in staff and leadership.
Work with standing resilience committee that involves executives to conduct annual evaluation of adaptation priorities and outcomes.
|Help elected officials become adaptation champions who provide strong leadership for climate resilience.|
|Encourage elected officials to advocate for state resources or legislation for adaptation.
Encourage elected officials to become champions for adaptation and to work with other elected officials from neighboring jurisdictions to demonstrate leadership. Work with neighboring jurisdictions to connect elected officials on aligned adaptation priorities in the communities. Work with elected officials to engage local political candidates to discuss strategies to address climate change (e.g. through candidate forums).
Demonstrate how leadership on community resilience-building activities can become a core pillar in their re-election campaigns.
Work with executives to continually onboard new elected officials on the agency’s adaptation processes and develop knowledge transfer reports for new elected officials on adaptation priorities and strategies in the community.
|Comprehensively integrate adaptation policies and strategy as core elements of the agency’s general plan.|
|Extend the planning horizon in the general plan from 10-20 years to 30+ years to account for long-term impacts of climate change. Key elements for climate resilience integration include safety, conservation, and land use. Incorporate climate risks and projections (e.g. flood maps) as well as technological advancements that impact land use (e.g. evolving infrastructure needs with shared mobility and rollout of autonomous vehicles).
Create a high-level policy directive and a comprehensive community vision that highlights the role of various planning documents. Consider developing a summary of all goals, strategies, and timelines identified in planning documents (e.g. climate action plan, sustainable communities strategy, local hazard mitigation plan, etc.) to streamline tracking and reporting efforts.
Develop an implementation plan that includes a funding strategy, concurrently or immediately after updating the general plan, to identify paths to achieving the vision. Incorporate agency capacity building and coordination mechanisms as part of the implementation plan.
|Establish and implement a robust system for coordination and information sharing on adaptation.|
|Integrate coordination and information sharing on adaptation across key departments into the agency’s operations plan.
Define and adopt shared reporting and tracking mechanisms on adaptation initiatives to utilize across departments.
Include reporting/tracking mechanisms on adaptation in staff onboarding process.
Reward adaptation collaboration through shared savings, revolving funds, and other incentives.
|Build climate change into overall employee empowerment and recognition efforts.|
|Identify informal or formal opportunities to recognize staff who are taking voluntary measures to reduce their footprint and build resilience within the agency and their own communities. Consider recognizing their efforts during staff meetings, in newsletters, on the agency website, or other creative channels.
Provide opportunities for staff to share their climate change adaptation efforts during staff meetings or in more casual settings (e.g. brief presentation during lunch or over an internal listserv).
Build metrics on voluntary climate change actions (e.g. supporting local food systems, engaging in alternative transportation) into employee benefits programs that help to bridge personal actions and community engagement with climate change goals.