Expert Team Issues Report on Regional Responses to Climate Change

Coordination needed to build resilience

A team of experts representing the American Planning Association (APA) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego recommends increased effort, coordination and engagement by San Diego agencies and researchers to build climate resilience with attention to disadvantage communities that are particularly susceptible to climate change impacts.

The findings are part of a new report, titled “Collaborative Planning for Climate Resilience,” that analyzed the planning that is needed to address climate change impacts in the San Diego region. Report authors also designed a model for coordination among public agencies, research institutions, non-government organizations, and other stakeholders.

Among key findings:

  • The San Diego region is susceptible to a host of threats to its quality of life and the natural environment because of climate change. The threats include more intense heat waves, sea-level rise, mounting wildfire hazards, and increased threats from severe winter storms. The result will be major impacts on our infrastructure, natural resources, coastal resources, and public health and safety. These threats take on a special urgency for disadvantaged environmental justice communities that are particularly vulnerable to these impacts.
  • Although climate adaptation and resilience planning are already underway in San Diego, given the threat of climate change, it is becoming increasingly important to design these efforts in ways that bring scientists, planners, practitioners, and community representatives together in planning processes. A cross-jurisdictional, interdisciplinary, collaborative approach leads to science-based and cost-effective strategies and actions that can be implemented in a timely manner. It is also increasingly important to compare the costs and benefits of various strategies, and to ensure that adequate funding is available to implement necessary actions.
  • By relying on an overall framework for climate resilience planning that utilizes existing regional plans and local government general plans to the greatest extent possible, the public agencies in the San Diego region can more effectively meet the climate resilience challenges that we are all currently facing, while at the same time updating and refining plans in ways that can meet other important goals and objectives. In doing so, it illustrates how the special needs of historically disadvantaged communities, including communities of color, low-income communities, tribal communities, and certain rural areas, can be effectively addressed.

Read the report here:

The report “illustrates the importance of making the region more resilient in the face of those impacts, and describes how local, regional, and state agencies and institutions must coordinate their efforts to accomplish this important goal,” said Scripps Oceanography climate scientist and co-lead author Julie Kalansky.

The report is a joint product of APA’s Regional and Intergovernmental Planning Division (RIPD) and the California-Nevada Climate Applications Program (CNAP), a NOAA Program based at Scripps Oceanography. Co-lead authors are Robert Leiter, FAICP, and Cary Lowe, PhD, AICP, on behalf of APA. A team of nine other planning and scientific experts contributed to the report, along with twenty-four external reviewers.

“We have many agencies at different levels of government responsible for various aspects of climate change planning — from individual cities to regional agencies like SANDAG and the County Water Authority to state agencies like the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services,” said Robert Leiter, previously Director of Planning and Land Use for the San Diego Association of Governments. “Our report analyzes those activities and provides a framework for how agencies can coordinate more effectively in developing plans to enable this region to adapt to and recover from the increasingly intense impacts which we face from climate change.”

The report addresses topics ranging from the importance of addressing the disproportionate impacts of climate change disadvantaged populations and other communities that have been subject to discriminatory practices and how to set up a framework for climate resilience planning in the San Diego region, based on collaboration among public agencies, scientific institutions, and other interested parties.  

“This report confirms the severe climate change impacts that this region will experience from extreme heat, wildfires, sea-level rise, and intense weather events. It also discusses the potential for co-occurring, or compounding extreme events, which can place even greater strains on services and systems,” said Scripps Oceanography climate scientist Dan Cayan, the co-director of CNAP. 

A notable aspect of the report is the emphasis it places on the importance of collaborative responses to climate change impacts. “By bringing together planners and scientists, we are demonstrating how effective climate resilience preparation can be when approached across professional lines,” said Cary Lowe, longtime San Diego land use lawyer and planning consultant.

The full report is also available on the Scripps Oceanography website.


About the Sponsoring Organizations:

APA is the national organization of professional planners, representing planners working in government agencies, private consulting firms, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions, as well as lawyers, architects, and other engaged in planning-related work. Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego is an internationally renowned environmental research center, and a leader in studying climate change.


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Media Contacts:   Robert Monroe, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, (858) 999-1738, rmonroe@ucsd.edu


Co-Lead Authors:

Robert Leiter, (619) 261-6321, rleiter9@cox.net

Julie Kalansky, (714) 915-9525, jkalansky@ucsd.edu

Cary Lowe, (619) 255-3078, carylowe@cl.sdcoxmail.com



About Scripps Oceanography

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego is one of the world’s most important centers for global earth science research and education. In its second century of discovery, Scripps scientists work to understand and protect the planet, and investigate our oceans, Earth, and atmosphere to find solutions to our greatest environmental challenges. Scripps offers unparalleled education and training for the next generation of scientific and environmental leaders through its undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs. The institution also operates a fleet of four oceanographic research vessels, and is home to Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the public exploration center that welcomes 500,000 visitors each year.

About UC San Diego

At the University of California San Diego, we embrace a culture of exploration and experimentation. Established in 1960, UC San Diego has been shaped by exceptional scholars who aren’t afraid to look deeper, challenge expectations and redefine conventional wisdom. As one of the top 15 research universities in the world, we are driving innovation and change to advance society, propel economic growth and make our world a better place. Learn more at ucsd.edu.

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