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Adaptation Actions to Address Climate Vulnerabilities - Best Practices

There are many different types of actions a community can take to address a climate vulnerability or hazard. For example, a community vulnerable to flooding could make physical improvements to stormwater infrastructure, enhance wetlands or other natural features that manage stormwater, or make changes in the zoning code to prevent future development in areas susceptible to flooding. 
Types of Actions
In general, there are seven different categories of climate change adaptation actions: planning, community engagement, information gathering, ecosystem, regulatory, economic, and spending. The table below provides general definitions and example actions for each category. A more complete list of best practice examples can be found in our Natural Hazard and Climate Change Adaptation Toolkit for Delaware Communities [PDF].
Action Type Definition Best Practice Example
Planning Incorporating the impacts of climate change into a new or existing planning process. Create a comprehensive watershed management plan that accounts for projected increases in sea level and precipitation.
Community Engagement Implementing programs that educate or involve the public. Promote on-site water retention and management on residential and commercial properties.
Information Gathering Addressing knowledge gaps - typically through studies or monitoring programs - that currently hinder hazard mitigation or climate change adaptation planning efforts. Evaluate community infrastructure's vulnerability to direct and indirect flood impacts (for example, flooding of evacuation routes, critical facilities, etc.).
Ecosystem Enhancing, restoring, or protecting natural areas to help protect a community from the impacts of climate change and natural hazards. Restore the health of selected wetlands to provide additional natural flood control (for example, create buffer zones around wetlands or streams to allow for inland migration of natural resources.
Regulatory Using zoning codes, building codes, ordinances, land use regulations, and other local governance tools to increase the resilience of a community's built, social, or natural infrastructure. Create a floodplain setback - require that homes be built a minimum distance from floodplains, river channels, or shorelines.
Economic Providing incentives, rebates, or other monetary incentives to encourage residents and businesses to implement strategies that increase resilience.  Offer financial incentives to building owners who retrofit structures to meet certain floodproofing or elevation standards.
Spending Direct spending by the government on project that increase a community's resiliency.  Raise or elevate infrastructure, such as roads or buildings, to protect it from flooding. Structures not suitable for elvation should be floodproofed. Whenever cost-effective and feasible, consider acquisition and demolition of structures to permanently remove them from a flood zone.
There are many examples of state and local programs that have incorporated adaptation planning initiatives to prepare for climate change. The Georgetown Climate Center maintains a website that includes climate-related resources and detailed information on these state / local adaptation efforts.
Many examples of how communities are working to evaluate vulnerabilities and improve resilience are included on the NOAA Office for Coastal Management’s Digital Coast website

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Page Updated on March 7, 2016