2015 Communities

City of El Paso, TX


Located in far west Texas and on the border of Mexico, El Paso is known for leadership in international trade. El Paso is also home to Fort Bliss, the fastest-growing U.S. Army installation in the United States and a vital part of the City’s economy. El Paso was recently selected as one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities. They used this award to hire a Chief Resilience Officer and create a Resiliency Plan.

In a city that receives an average of 8.4 inches of rain per year, addressing water scarcity through technology and education is a prerequisite to assuring water security with growing demands.  El Paso has led the way with innovative water technologies like desalination, water reuse, and conservation. The El Paso Water Utilities Public Service Board has built the world’s largest inland desalination plant. It is an extensive reclaimed water system (“purple pipe”), and has explored new advanced water purification strategies.

In addition, stormwater management is increasingly critical because El Paso has experienced several major flooding events since 2006. Some of the poorest zip codes in the United States with at-risk citizens  are located in low-lying southern areas of El Paso. The per capita income in El Paso is less than $20,000 and a high number of residents are uninsured.

The City has partnered with El Paso County to create a regional plan through Climate Solutions University focused on the most vulnerable populations in outlying areas, along the border, and in public housing. The El Paso planning team includes local utility providers, the City Office of Emergency Management, the Chambers of Commerce, the Border Network for Human Rights, the City’s Neighborhood Services division, UTEP, and representatives from both the City of Juárez and Ft. Bliss.


Nashville MPO, TN


The Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) facilitates strategic planning for the region’s multi-modal transportation system by serving as a forum for collaboration among local communities and state leaders. The vision of the MPO is to develop policies and programs that direct public funds to transportation projects that increase access to opportunity and prosperity, while promoting the health and wellness of Middle Tennesseans and the environment.

The MPO will develop a Climate Adaptation Plan through Climate Solutions University as a companion to the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan, a long-range planning document released by the MPO every five years, to be adopted in December 2015. The Climate Adaptation Plan will serve as the environmental action plan for the region, impacting 1.5 million residents in seven counties, many of whom are low-income and vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

The Nashville MPO’s planning process will bring local governments in the region together to make Middle Tennessee more resilient to climate change and protect its natural resources and built environment. The Nashville MPO’s key partners include the City of Nashville, Organized Neighbors of Nashville, and Tennessee Emigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition.


Sierra Climate Adaptation & Mitigation Partnership (Sierra CAMP), CA


The Sierra Climate Adaptation & Mitigation Partnership (Sierra CAMP) is a project of the Sierra Business Council, which fosters thriving communities, through policy, advocacy, and partnerships that promote, amplify and develop social, environmental and economic well-being in the Sierra Nevada and southern Cascade region. The purpose of Sierra CAMP is to reduce the burden of climate change on communities and ecosystems throughout the Sierra Nevada and connected urban areas, especially for those most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

The Sierra Nevada and southern Cascade is a resource-rich region that supplies many benefits to its own communities and to urban residents downstream. It is the state’s principal watershed, supplying up to 2/3 of California’s developed water supply for urban areas – including San Francisco, the San Joaquin Valley, the Central Coast and Southern California – and 1/3 of California’s rich agricultural land. Sierra forests alone store enough carbon to offset the annual CO2 emissions of 108 coal-fired power plants in the region.

The Sierra region is experiencing drought conditions and frequent, devastating wildfires. This contributes to poor air quality and negatively affects local households, businesses, and the Sierra’s ability to provide water to urban and agricultural areas downstream. Climate-related temperature, air quality and water quality impacts are anticipated to negatively affect public health, particularly among low-income, vulnerable citizens in these communities. This includes increased incidences of asthma, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes cases, as well as long-term chronic conditions.

Sierra CAMP works to reduce these impacts by facilitating region-wide collaboration that draws on and builds expertise, capacity, and coordination among industry; local, state, and federal government; businesses; organizations; and community groups throughout the Sierra Nevada and in the urban areas that rely on resources from the Sierra. Sierra CAMP’s key partners in Climate Solutions University include the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District and Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Adaptation.


Sustainable Sandhills, NC


Sustainable Sandhills is a nonprofit dedicated to serving the environment and natural resources of the North Carolina Sandhills. In 2000, Fort Bragg leadership took a proactive stance to ensure the long-term viability of the installation by convening a regional sustainability planning process. Sustainable Sandhills emerged as an independent environmental nonprofit resulting from this collaborative effort. It works as a change agent to empower youth, combat climate change, document and demand stronger protection for the environment by reducing the region’s environmental footprint centered on air, water, energy, education, and business.

Sustainable Sandhills has partnered with the City of Fayetteville to develop its Climate Adaptation Plan through Climate Solutions University and integrate climate resilience goals into the city’s Master Plan and other regional planning efforts. The Sandhills region has experienced rapid, unplanned growth in recent years. In addition, North Carolina is a likely potential destination for climate-induced migration from more southern states as well as from eastern, coastline populations in low-land areas which will be displaced with sea level rise.

Watershed management is a priority in the region due to drought conditions, upstream natural resource extraction, fishing, increased development, and the impact of climate change on vulnerable, low-income citizens. Local water supplies are threatened by chemical agriculture, environmental deregulation, industrial development, and illegal dumping. As water supplies become more stressed, individual municipalities are advancing stricter territorial control through legislation.