The City of Flagstaff recently completed a comprehensive Resiliency and Preparedness Study
that will help them prioritize their municipal service delivery investments for climate adaptation and resiliency in the future. A diverse City team conducted a thorough analysis and developed key recommendations for the City’s emergency services, energy systems, forest health, public health, stormwater, transportation, and water systems that were identified to be vulnerable and at risk from climate variability. The City’s approach included focusing specifically on resilience in areas, infrastructure and services that are impacted by local government. In addition, Flagstaff decided to forgo the development of a separate, stand alone, climate action or adaptation plan. This approach makes Flagstaff’s resiliency and preparedness efforts longer lasting, better integrated, and an efficient initiative to begin implementing.
Wanting to reduce vulnerability and risk while also building local resistance from climate variability and weather related impacts, a Resiliency and Preparedness Study was conducted to understand how the impacts of local climate changes will directly affect City operations. The Study assessed potential impacts of 115 areas of the City’s operations that are exposed to local climate variability.
After completion of the Study and Assessment the City of Flagstaff decided to incorporate future climate changes planning into all City functions, and adopted policy at the City Council level-which mandates integration of resiliency and preparedness principles into city operations and decision making processes while giving the City flexibility to identify opportunities and develop solutions. The City is now working so that all future City plans and projects now include and address direct and indirect impacts of weather and climate.
The consensus-based process Flagstaff implemented created buy-in from a diverse array of internal and external stakeholders on the team. This approach produced a real sense of ownership over the process and eventually the policy and its implementation. By not creating a separate plan Flagstaff will be able to get to work with implementation much faster while also considering ways of integrating resiliency into existing City processes. Choosing to focus this effort on city operations allowed the City to quickly build capacity and competency in uncharted territory with City staff from multiple departments. It was important for Flagstaff to adapt their planning process, including the vulnerability and risk assessments, to meet their organization’s needs while also maintaining a focus on implementation.
City of Flagstaff Resiliency and Preparedness Study Website