The San Diego Center for Civic Engagement at The San Diego Foundation granted $75,000 to ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) to collaborate with the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services (OES) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) to update the region’s Hazard Mitigation Plan.
While climate change continues to polarize political debates across the U.S., the disaster planning and response community is increasingly coming together to best manage costly weather events.
National extreme weather impacts such as sea levels rise, prolonged droughts, polar vortexes and hurricanes are more extreme than ever. Last year, Hurricane Sandy and a devastating drought that affected over 70 percent of the country, cost every person in America more than $300—or more than $100 billion altogether according to a report by CERES – Inaction on Climate Change: The Cost to Taxpayers.
County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who also is a member of the California Air Resources Board, said public safety must be a top priority in addressing climate change impacts. “This collaboration of ICLEI with climate scientists, funded by The San Diego Foundation, will ensure we protect our residents while mitigating future costs to our region,” Roberts said.
Shaun Donovan, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported, “for every $1 we spent today on hazard mitigation saves us at least $4 in avoided costs if a disaster strikes again, saving billions in taxpayer dollars.” Therefore by updating the San Diego County Mitigation Plan and investing today in implementation, we could potentially cut future severe weather response costs by 75%.
“We live in an area of the world known for its ideal climate that has become a world-renowned climate research mecca. By working with climate scientists, planners on the ground along with philanthropy, we have created a national model for dealing with the challenge of climate change preparedness,” said Dr. Emily Young, vice president of the Environment Program at The San Diego Foundation.
Starting in January 2014, ICLEI will work with OES, the Unified Disaster Council, several fire and water districts, as well as the region’s 18 local governments and the County to assess how best to incorporate scientific-based climate change projections into existing hazard plans (e.g. increasingly intense and frequent wildfires, droughts, coastal flooding and extreme heat events).
The funding will provide the resources to survey the Unified Disaster Council and emergency managers to determine planning needs, work with scientists at SIO to determine the County’s local climate science needs, and develop guidance for city hazard mitigation strategies through expert workshops. The regional plan must be approved by FEMA every five years and is scheduled for review in 2015.
“With this grant from The Foundation, we are excited to work with the County’s Office of Emergency Services and scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to incorporate projections of regional climate change into the County’s Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan,” proclaimed Brian Holland, ICLEI national climate programs director. “Thanks to the County’s leadership, this plan will be one of the few plans in the country that are forward looking,” he continued.
The San Diego Center for Civic Engagement’s Climate Initiative supports efforts to raise community awareness about the projected impacts of climate change in the San Diego region and catalyze comprehensive local action to address them. This grant was made possible through a two-year grant from the Kresge Foundation to The Center, to underwrite some initial work to help our region prepare for change.
In addition to partnerships with government and nonprofits, businesses such as QUALCOMM, Bank of America and Kaiser Permanente have provided critical funding to augment The Foundation’s collaborative efforts. The region’s innovation has also attracted investments from national funders such as the Kresge Foundation and the National Science Foundation, in anticipation that what happens in San Diego will serve as powerful examples for other areas of the country.