BECI Project

Overcoming Financial and Institutional Barriers to
Implementing Local Government Adaptation Strategies


California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment aims to enhance the capacity of local and regional entities to anticipate and plan for project climate risks, including extreme events. As part of the Fourth Assessment, the Local Government Commission is working with ICF International and Susanne Moser Research & Consulting, to investigate practical opportunities to fund adaptation and strategies to overcome barriers to adaptation.

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There are 540 local and county governments in California, all with differing levels of capability for implementing climate change adaptation actions. It is critically important to develop ways to assist local governments in their effort to understand and overcome barriers to climate change adaptation financing and implementation. While climate change is a global problem, its impacts will be felt locally and adaptation measures will need to be implemented locally in a way that is sensitive to context in terms of geography, ecology, and the social, economic, and political situation.

Financial Barriers

Faced with increasing climate extremes and emerging climate change impacts, local governments in California are eager to advance their preparedness measures and take action to build local resilience. However, as previous studies and day-to-day interactions with local leaders make clear, determining how to fund adaptation planning and implementation is frequently a significant barrier to progress. Local governments often take the lead in identifying adaptation needs and options, and are then required to find external funds or devise locally acceptable financing mechanisms to implement them. Many local governments are struggling to identify or create sufficient funding streams to realize adaptation strategies.

Institutional Barriers

During the 3rd California Climate Assessment, Dr. Julia Ekstrom and Dr. Susanne Moser determined that institutional and governance barriers are – at this early stage of adaptation – the main barriers faced by local governments. Institutional barriers can delay or prevent local governments from moving from planning to implementation. Overcoming institutional barriers to climate change adaptation is an essential step toward implementing a full suite of climate change adaptation strategies, and while preliminary work has been completed in the Bay Area and for coastal jurisdictions, there has been no comprehensive assessment of local government adaptation barriers throughout the state. Also, the development of solutions to overcome these local-level barriers is at best in the early stages.

While many guides are available to help communities conduct climate change vulnerability assessments and develop adaptation plans, including California’s own comprehensive Adaptation Planning Guide, there are no guides to help agencies take the next step of increasing their institutional capacity for implementing adaptation strategies. Climate change adaptation is still at an early stage of development and implementation in most locations; it is not yet a “mature” effort compared with other more traditional programs within local governments. Guidance on assessing and overcoming common institutional barriers would help agencies avoid common stumbling blocks and provide them with tools to accelerate the pace of implementing adaptation.

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Financial Barriers

This aspect of our study aims to support state and local (and perhaps federal) policy makers in their efforts to help solve the adaptation financing problem by answering three core research questions:

  1. How big is the financing gap (between need and availability) for local governments in California?
  2. What economically and politically feasible financing options are available to fill this gap?
  3. What is the nature of the financing challenges and how can they be overcome?
Institutional Barriers

Previous research has found that when barriers are revealed, this can help local governments develop adaptation strategies that are geared to overcome or avoid the barriers, thereby increasing the implementation/effectiveness potential. Through this project, the consultant shall focus on:

  1. Furthering the understanding of the diversity of institutional barriers across local governments in California,
  2. Developing a capability maturity model, a guidebook and best practices for local governments to overcome these barriers, and
  3. Conducting case studies with local governments on the usefulness of these tools.

This approach seeks to support California in advancing the implementation of climate change adaptation.

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The project team conducted 9 regional stakeholder meetings throughout the state as part of this study. These interactive, discussion-based meetings aimed to gather input from local government staff and officials about the challenges, best practices, and lessons learned in financing and implementing adaptation strategies. Input and ideas gathered from participants in these meeting are helping to inform research projects exploring practical opportunities to fund adaptation and overcome institutional barriers to adaptation.

Pre-CAF Workshop

Date: Tuesday, September 6th | 1:00 – 5:00 PM
Location: Renaissance Long Beach Hotel, Room Pike 3
111 East Ocean Boulevard | Long Beach, CA

San Francisco Bay Area

Date: Monday, August 1st | 1:00-5:00 PM
Location: Bay Area Metro Center
375 Beale Street, CR-109 Yerba Buena | San Francisco, CA

Los Angeles Region

Date: Wednesday, August 3rd | 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Location: LA Metro
One Gateway Plaza | Los Angeles, CA

Central Coast Region

Date: Tuesday, October 4th | 1:00 – 5:00 PM
Location: San luis Obispo Veteran’s Hall
801 Grand Avenue | San Luis Obispo, CA

Capital Region (Sacramento)

Date: Friday, October 21st | 1:00 – 5:00 PM
Location: 915 I Street | Sacramento, CA

North Coast

Date: Tuesday, October 25th | 1:00 – 5:00 PM
Location: Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center
921 Waterfront Drive | Eureka, CA

Sierra Nevada Region

Date: Wednesday, October 26th | 1:00 – 5:00 PM
Location: Truckee Town Hall, East Wing Conference Room
10183 Truckee Airport Road | Truckee, CA

San Diego Region

Date: Wednesday, October 26th | 1:30 – 5:30 PM
Location: 2508 Historic Decatur Road, #200 | San Diego, CA

San Joaquin Valley Region

Date: Tuesday, January 10th | 1:00 – 5:00 PM
Location: Parc Grove Commons
2674 E. Clinton Avenue | Fresno, CA

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