The Climate Resilient Development Project

Local Solutions to the Global Crisis: A Guide to Climate Resilient Development

Student Authors
Ethan Baer, Caitlin Boas, Gabriella Izquierdo, Laurel Jobe, and Samuel Stewart
Land Use Scholars in the Land Use Law Center at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law

Supervising Faculty
John R. Nolon, Distinguished Professor Emeritus[1]

In February 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its Sixth Assessment Report, identified Climate Resilient Development (CRD) as a principal strategy for managing climate change. It asserts that, “There is a rapidly narrowing window of opportunity to enable climate resilient development. Multiple climate resilient development pathways are still possible by which communities, the private sector, governments, nations, and the world can pursue climate resilient development.”

We Land Use Scholars at the Land Use Law Center at the Haub School of Law at Pace University wrote an article detailing the role of land use law and policy in advancing CRD. The article includes an evaluative methodology to help stakeholders affected by climate change understand how CRD can be implemented at the local level. The article was published in early November in the Environmental Law Reporter.

The IPCC emphasizes the importance of the land use authority that local governments have to shape urban form and thus mitigate and adapt to climate change. Local governments can adopt, enforce, and incentivize CRD strategies to control and shape land use through plans and regulations. They can adopt CRD components in comprehensive land use plans that direct the objectives of zoning, which dictates land uses. CRD is implemented by strategies that create low carbon buildings, reduce vehicle emissions through decarbonized transportation, and foster green infrastructure and carbon sequestration. Cities can achieve low carbon development and affordable housing through in-fill and adaptive reuse, taking pressure off greenfields for future development. Land use plans and regulations can anticipate climate-related disasters and manage them through hazard mitigation planning and development. The IPCC is dedicated to achieving sustainable development for all, which requires that local governments incorporate equity and justice in their CRD strategies.

The Guide contains a methodology for evaluating existing climate management land use laws. It is designed to assist local officials and their advisors, including community leaders, in amending those laws to integrate adaptation and mitigation, and achieve resilience, avoid maladaptation, and accomplish equity. The intended result is the adoption of comprehensive CRD laws that serve as models for action in peer communities. In each step of the methodology, questions are asked to guide evaluators in the process of identifying how to strengthen existing laws to achieve CRD.

In creating the Guide, we learned three essential lessons:

  1. In the process of adopting CRD, local officials and stakeholders can strengthen their technical and financial capacities by learning to collaborate horizontally at the local level and vertically at the state and federal levels.
  2. Working collaboratively will create the connective tissue that results in resilient development. This process will gradually effect the transformative changes needed to keep up with the alarming velocity of climate change.
  3. The IPCC’s emphasis on enabling conditions is prescient, teaching local leaders about successful implementation of CRD strategies. These are the conditions necessary for “implementing, accelerating, and sustaining adaptation in human systems and ecosystems.” The definition includes political commitment and follow-through, institutional frameworks that engage all necessary actors, clear goals and priorities, enhanced knowledge on impacts and solutions, adequate financial resources, and inclusive governance processes.

Forty land use scholars are continuing this work, refining the methodology, developing additional case studies, adding them to the Land Use Law Center’s database, and making these materials available to local officials and stakeholders as well as climate change scholars. The Land Use Law Center will release a comprehensive report at the end of the academic year detailing the role of CRD in addressing climate change.

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