4. Identify detailed needs of collaborative members


Each potential member of your regional adaptation collaborative has a unique mission that informs its needs, so doing a formal or informal needs assessment can help identify where these needs are sahred, and resources each group can each bring to the table. The focus of this assessment should be on identifying needs related to adaptation issues in regions that are best handled collaboratively, as opposed to needs that might be important, but are unique to the individual organization. For this reason, it is important to look at needs of members with respect to the goals and scope of the collaborative – this is one reason why it is useful to set boundaries for an effort before identifying needs. The process of defining these needs might include surveys of key stakeholders, analysis of regional activity, and an inventory of relevant ongoing work. This process should yield tasks and goals that can inform a detailed framework for a regional collaboration around adaptation.

You may want focus on what will help your regional adaptation collaborative members move forward in their respective efforts and by extension with the collaborative work. For example, there might be a need for sea level rise analysis or for risk assessment for public health.

Defining a narrow set of shared needs is hard work. If too broad a set of needs are included the collaborative is likely to be ineffective, but if the list of needs is too exclusive stakeholders will fall away. An effective regional adaptation collaborative will aim to strike a balance between the appetite for various efforts and the capacity of the collaborative to implement those efforts. In addition, since adaptation needs change, the process should be designed to allow for ongoing input on shared priorities.

It is also important to consider the sequencing of needs. At times it may be important to focus on the needs of one stakeholder group over another for opportunistic reasons (for example, if funding becomes available unexpectedly or if there is a specific event to act on). As the process of identifying needs proceeds it can be important to foster an understanding that a regional adaptation collaborative works on a long-term time scale – while the current focus might be on one set of needs that focus might change in the future.

It is useful to identify and assess the explicit information needs of local decision makers. These needs might be identified through a review of the plans that drive funding and staff time allocations for climate adaptation challenges related to emergency response, infrastructure, land use, transportation, and natural resources. Review of these needs will help you gain an understanding of the key planning processes in each sector and region. It is also useful to identify and prioritize key stakeholder needs for climate risks, future projections and data, and guidance and capacity.

Completing a needs assessment provides a roadmap for funding, conducting research, and updating priority planning processes and documents to directly incorporate adaptation. Identifying detailed needs will support the development of a regional adaptation collaborative governance structure.

Tools & Resources

Needs Assessment in the San Francisco Bay Area
Case Study: Greater LA Framework for Regional Climate Action and Sustainability
Case Study: San Diego Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation White Paper
California Adaptation Planning Guide
Needs Assessment in the San Francisco Bay Area

The Bay Area Climate and Energy Resilience Project (BACERP) has conducted two stakeholder needs assessments and inventories of key Bay Area climate projects. The first assessment in 2012-13 was conducted at the regional level and produced a series of five reports.
Stakeholder Interview Summary and Project Inventory
Mapping Our Future: A Work Plan for Public Engagement and Social Equity
Bay Area Integrated Win-Win Strategies
What’s Going to Happen and What Can We Do About It?
Effective Governance for Multi-Jurisdictional, Multi-Sector Climate Adaptation

The second assessment was done at the county-level in 2013-14. BACERP met with stakeholders in each county and researched “spotlight” projects for each area. This work was compiled in a report covering the 9-county region.

Case Study: Greater LA Framework for Regional Climate Action and Sustainability

The Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability (LARC) created a living document called “A Greater LA: The Framework for Regional Climate Action and Sustainability”, which outlines recommended climate action strategies. Research and working groups form the basis of the process. LARC is overseeing research in climate change impacts, greenhouse gas mitigation, and sustainable communities to build the knowledge base for this framework. LARC will convene groups of stakeholders and experts in each of the three goal areas to provide: assessment of regional issues and concerns; strategies and best practices that can work in LA; and prioritized recommendations for the framework.

Case Study: San Diego Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation White Paper

San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative is drawing on a wealth of needs assessment information gathered by members and partners. The San Diego Association of Governments created the “Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation White Paper” to inform the development of “San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan”. The white paper includes recommendations for a regional approach to address climate change and a summary of current efforts in the San Diego region.  San Diego Regional Climate Education Partners created another resource, a countywide survey of more than 1,200 residents of San Diego, in order to assess views on issues related to climate change and public policies designed to address it.

California Adaptation Planning Guide

The California Adaptation Planning Guide (APG) outlines a step by step process to developing a stakeholder engagement program. Although focused on individual local government action it includes considerations for incorporating the stakeholders engagement effort into local planning initiatives such as general plans, local hazard mitigation plans, and adaptation plans. The outreach and engagement process included in the APG can be modified for a variety of uses. The APG is the official reference document on the planning process for resilience in adaptation for the State of California.