This post was written by William Roper, principle of Slow Communities, who has been helping build and support the Resilient VT Network since 2014
I’m pleased to be posting the first blog on the newly refreshed Resilient Vermont website. This new site is intended to better support the work that is now underway to create the Resilient Vermont Network. This Network will support and serve the organizations and agencies advancing climate resilience in Vermont. We hope that you’ll take some time to explore the new site including the section on “what we’re doing” which summarizes some of the great work underway, check out the list of useful resources, and get involved!
The need to proactively build our resilience around climate change and the many impacts it will bring has never been more apparent. The recent flooding in Barre is yet another reminder of the risks Vermont communities face. Nearly every day while skimming the news, I come across a new story related to climate change and associated challenges at home and abroad. Pope Francis’s recent directive on climate change has brought this issue into even greater focus. In his recent encyclical, he states, “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”
That message came on the heels of a new report forecasting significant health impacts from climate change, issued by the well-respected British medical journal The Lancet. In a commentary on Vermont Digger a week later, Barrie Dunsmore examined the politics of money behind the increasingly common climate change battles in state and national governments. “We have reached the point where ‘storms of the century’ are happening all the time,” he wrote. And indeed they are: here in Vermont, our soaking month of June brought floods that could qualify as federal disasters, extending our streak of at least one federal disaster every year since 2000.
It is clear that climate change deserves serious attention – and it’s getting more. Many Vermont agencies, non-profits, foundations and municipalities are taking steps to proactively prepare for and respond to what will surely come: more extreme weather events, more water, warmer temperatures, migration of new plant and animal species, new diseases, and other patterns only starting to become apparent. We believe that by working together in a collaborative and cooperative way, we can more effectively and efficiently achieve our resilience goals.
In 2014, the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) issued a Roadmap to Resilience following an 18-month stakeholder engagement process. The Network recently released a Progress Report assessing Vermont’s progress on the Roadmap’s recommendations. While we found significant progress has been made in many areas, there is still an enormous need to take action, to better educate ourselves about climate change and its impacts, to better prepare our communities, to invest in our infrastructure, and to strengthen our economy.
To meet these needs, in the coming months, the Network will launch a new set of collaborative projects to advance four priorities that participants have identified as critical gaps: supporting buyouts of flood-prone properties and conservation of floodplain; implementing recommendations from the Vermont Economic Resilience Initiative; exploring strategies to limit development in river corridors; and reducing impacts on vulnerable populations. If you are interested in collaborating on any of those topics or otherwise building Vermont’s resilience to climate change, we’d love to hear from you.
Climate change is very real, and it’s upon us already. It is only through collective action that we can shift the momentum and reduce our vulnerability. Please join us.