Even the most elegant ideas can only be implemented with many hands and communities that are well-informed and engaged around them. We envision communities that are connected with organizational stakeholders and municipal government. Our policy recommendations work to do just that -- support a community-based approach to adapting to sea level rise.
overview of the idea
With the need for communities in the global North to adapt to any potentially dangerous issue comes a wave of beautiful, well-informed, intelligent, new ideas.
These ideas amount to little, however, if we are unable to put them into practice. In fact, what is policy itself without successful enactment on the community level? Often, the most beautiful new ideas fall by the wayside because of lack of practicality and difficulty in implementation, and the reality of policy and community planning is that implementation can be decidedly more tiresome, can take much longer and be much less exciting than the process of generating new ideas.
Our pitch is based on our belief that resilience on the neighbourhood level is not only a strong foundation for successful follow-through on practical management aspects of sea level rise. From what is known of people in geographies who have and are currently experiencing environmental devastation due to sea level rise, neighbourhood and family level relationships are where adaptation to climate change begins.
In the context of Metro Vancouver, whose residents have strong confidence in municipal governments and community organizations, our friends, neighbours and co-workers on the ground in our communities are an overlooked population in the race to face sea level rise confidently.
We are presenting three simple policy recommendations to support ordinary people as Metro Vancouver’s biggest champions of day to day adaption to and long term adaotation to sea level rise.
how it works
1) Resilient Communities: Vulnerability and capacity assessment
At the municipal level, identify who is being affected by sea level rise now, who will be affected soon, and which communities it is not too late to help if we change our behaviours. Set concrete parameters to identify which communities, in which specific geographies of Metro Vancouver are a) currently experiencing negative ramifications of sea level rise, b) about to face these ramifications. Categorize these by time frame.
2) Resilient Residents: Awareness building in Metro Vancouver
On the neighbourhood level, educate community members about sea level rise in their own geographies as well as on a global level, and why it is important. Educate and advise the public on which communities, in as specific geographic detail as possible, were identified as per Recommendation #1. Deliver educational activities through community organizations and local school concerning sea level rise and how other communities have adapted on a global to local scale. Focus on communities most affected currently and in the short to medium term.
3) Planning for Resilience: Collaboratively formulated community plans
Identify and involve key community stakeholders (“community champions”) from public campaigns taking place as part of Recommendation #2.These individuals may be youth, parents groups, teachers, business people or any other person who is involved in, connected with and enthusiastic about their community. Involve these community champions at the policy level to work together with municipal government and organizational stakeholders to develop and disseminate community disaster plans. These plans may include assembling community disaster response teams, creating documents detailing household preparedness, enabling grassroots engagement campaigns and deciding upon appropriate and do-able risk reduction strategies on a household level.
Rise Competition Video
A video further explaining the 'Rising Resilience' idea, click below to watch!
How communities will adapt and thrive
Psychological resilience is a well-supported concept that positive emotions increase individuals’ abilities to cope with negative events. Psychologically resilient individuals exhibit traits such as being more capable at following through on plans, having strength in their abilities and having solid problems solving skills. There has been empirical proof that resilience can be taught on a community scale (see RLife Youth Project).
Our policy recommendations borrow from this theory and attempt to put them into practice on a neighbourhood level. The recommendation work towards building communities with realistic, well-informed and geographically specific information about sea level rise. Through education, programming and basic community planning that can be understood by lay people and is effectively disseminated at the neighbourhood level, we believe that it can be possible to create a culture of trust in municipal government and community resilience around sea level rise.
Again, even the most elegant ideas are meaningless without community uptake, the hard work and the many hands that it takes to implement them. Sea level rise is an immediate, tangible but, in our part of the world, rarely discussed and not well understood threat. We believe that it is by supporting and creating a well informed, resilient and capable base of community champions that Metro Vancouver will be able to make itself a leader in adapting to sea level rise.