What makes southwestern communities resilient to climate change?

TitleWhat makes southwestern communities resilient to climate change?
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsSteele C, Gutierrez P, Aney S, Elias EH, Reyes JJon T, Deswood H
Conference NameAmerican Geophysical Union
Date Published12/2019
Conference LocationSan Francisco, California
ARIS Log Number378950

With multiple interpretations of resilience in the physical and social science literature, and little consensus on its measurement and evaluation, determining what makes communities resilient to climate change can be challenging. Our goal is to identify drivers of community resilience in the southwest United States to inform outreach needs. These drivers may be physical traits of the community infrastructure and the surrounding environment, socio-economic and demographic characteristics of the community itself, or actions taken by public or private entities, individuals or groups to build community resilience. In pursuit of this goal, we have stepped outside of the conventional literature review to inventory programs that aim to improve community climate change readiness. In doing so, we establish how practitioners see resilience and consider climate change not in isolation but as a problem that co-exists with multiple issues such as available energy, transport, employment, housing, health services, access to food etc. We highlight challenges specific to the southwest region, where water is scarce, population is concentrated in urban and exurban settlements, and agriculture is important both economically and culturally. Further, the southwest sees some of the highest levels of poverty and deprivation in the country, most notably in tribal communities which have long been subject to institutional inequities and discrimination. Economically-disadvantaged communities will be disproportionately impacted by climate change and this is an environmental justice issue. To conclude, we summarize the infrastructural, demographic and socio-economic characteristics of resilient communities and we identify priority actions for outreach to build greater resilience for vulnerable southwestern communities. Poster #624120.