Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Planning: Agency Roles and Workforce Development Needs

Climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of many extreme weather events, thus climate adaptation and resiliency planning are increasingly important tasks for transportation agencies at all levels of government. While specific climate threats and adaptation needs varies by location throughout the United States, all agencies face challenges in terms of resource availability (including staffing levels and staffing expertise) and the quality of the technical tools for adaptation planning. In 2015, the University of Vermont Transportation Research Center conducted a survey of planning organizations in the U.S. concerning climate adaptation planning intended to assess the adaptation planning capacity, workforce development needs, and current preparation levels of local and state agencies as well as the adequacy of currently available technical tools. The survey garnered 154 respondents, including representatives from planning organizations, state transportation agencies and others involved in transportation planning. The study results point to preparation gaps for agencies at all levels. A preparation gap is any instance when an agency is aware of its exposure to a particular climate threat but is not yet preparing for that threat. The survey identified that only 20% to 80% (depending on the threat) of agencies at risk from a given threat are actively preparing for that threat.

This report is one of two NCST Research Reports produced as part of a project to evaluate the state of practice and adequacy of technical tools for resiliency and adaptation planning. A companion report, Transportation Network Data Requirements for Assessing Criticality for Resiliency and Adaptation Planning (see below), focuses specifically on the technical challenges of conducting criticality assessment for climate adaptation and resiliency planning.

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Associated Publications

Dowds, Jonathon, Karen Sentoff, James Sullivan, and Lisa Aultman-Hall. “Transportation Network Data Requirements for Assessing Criticality for Resiliency and Adaptation Planning“. Technical Report by the National Center for Sustainable Transportation. November 2017.