Local Communities Adapting to Climate Change: Managing Risk in Decision Making

Managing Tomorrow's Risks with Today's Decisions

A two-day, hands-on, interactive course introducing local and regional leaders to the tools of stakeholder engagement, scenario planning, and consensus building to help choose among adaptation strategies most resilient in the face of the uncertainties of climate change.

Presented by: CBI and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Course Description

Local, regional and state governments, and other stakeholders are faced with infrastructure and planning decisions today that must be resilient in the face of uncertainties many decades from now.  The risks of climate change — from sea level rise to water scarcity -- raise such uncertainties.  Will climate change be gradual or rapid, how extreme will it be?  This course introduces communities to a range of tools to consider decisions today in light of uncertainties in the future.  

This course will provide participants with an introduction to:

  • Risk assessment — Identifying the risks associated with climate change
  • Modeling and climate downscaling — Quantifying the risks associated with different scenarios
  • Scenario planning — Using scenarios to explore possible futures and what might be done now to prepare for them
  • Collaborative approaches to decision-making — Working together to find the best responses to climate change

Course Instructors

Lawrence Susskind - Ford Professor, Urban and Environmental Planning, MIT; Founder, CBI
Paul Kirshen - Climate Change Adaptation Research Leader, Battelle
Stephen Aldrich - President and Founder, Bio Economic Research Associates (bio-era) LLC
Patrick Field - Managing Director, CBI; Associate Director, MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program

What others have said about this course:

“Whatever your local issues may be, this course will help elucidate common strategies that work anywhere.”
- Professor Douglas J. Meffert, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana

“This training is a must for anyone planning for climate change, or considering such an undertaking.”
– Kamran Mesbah, Deputy Director and Director of Environmental Resources Planning, Capital Area Regional Planning, Madison, Wisconsin

“This was a unique hands on learning experience that covered climate adapta­tion contents through the exploration of planning processes that we could all implement.”
- Brenda Cotto-Escalera, Director of Community Building, Neighborhood of Affordable Housing, East Boston, Massachusetts

“It was well worth two days— course was very well organized, informative, and collaborative.”
- Julia Wyman, Policy Analyst, Coastal States Organization

Sample Agenda

Day One, 8 am - 5 pm

  • Understanding and Responding to the Risks Associated with Climate Change
  • Products and Outcomes of Adaptation Planning
  • Overview of Climate Change
  • Risk Assessment Exercise
  • An Introduction to Scenario Planning
  • Assessment and Convening
  • Assessment and Convening Exercise
  • The Mechanics of Scenario Planning

Day Two, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

  • Recap of and Reactions to Day One
  • Scenario Planning Exercise
  • Analyzing and Quantifying the Impacts of Climate Change
  • Evantown Heat Waves Game
  • Evantown Flood Risk Management Game