Community Resilience Initiative

 

The Community Resilience Initiative (CRI) is a new University of Maryland outreach program designed to accelerate financial investment in cities to make them more environmentally resilient, socially equitable, and economically vibrant.  CRI’s focus is to incentivize local, regional, and state-level investment targeting integrated community resilience needs. By linking vulnerable communities with the critical expertise they need to develop economic, social and environmental systems to flourish in today’s changing climate, CRI will help build capacity in local governments and communities. This initiative acts as an incubator of effective and impactful community financing and resilience interventions and leverages the University’s deep research capacity and educational resources to help communities across the country, the result of which will be:

 CRI CORE PROJECTS AND PROGRAMS

 CRI is designed to empower communities to identify resilience investment opportunities with the potential to accelerate local economic development and prepare communities for the future.  To that end, CRI catalyzes change within vulnerable communities through five main interventions:

 Direct technical assistance: CRI works directly with communities to identify their unique resilience needs, goals and priorities; develop investment-ready resilience projects; and leverage each community’s unique assets to align projects with financing opportunities. As part of engagement, CRI develops and applies a number of decision support tools and capacity assessment processes designed specifically to identify potential weaknesses and opportunities for advancing resilience policies and investment efforts over time. CRI’s direct technical assistance also links local officials and leaders with multi-disciplinary teams of experts as a way of addressing key resilience and financing issues and guiding communities in their efforts to create the conditions necessary for resilience investment at scale. 

Key projects:

Research and innovation: CRI creates academic research and policy analysis opportunities related to climate change resilience, public policy, economic development and technological innovation. CRI links the action-based strategy of direct technical assistance with the research and academics of the University, bringing communities the most advanced and up-to-date research and data analysis available. This applied policy approach in turn generates new research ideas and discoveries that can be translated to and modeled in real world contexts and facilitate the development of innovative practices, programs, projects, and processes that show promise for accelerating investment in resilience. 

Key projects:

Establishing innovative institutions:  CRI partners with local and state leaders to develop and implement institutions and institutional processes that proactively prepare communities for uncertain futures.  Specifically, CRI helps establish innovative and flexible institutions that can effectively leverage private engagement and investment in advancing local resilience initiatives and programs.

Key project:

Innovations in project financing: CRI facilitates access to a pipeline of public and private capital and provides guidance on how a community can approach potential funders and secure financing. Though the projects needed to achieve climate resilience are as diverse as the communities themselves, one common element will be the integrated, holistic approach to investment.  Rather than simply viewing climate change adaptation as a cost, CRI helps communities see climate resilience as an opportunity for investment in the local economy.

Key project:

Resilience leadership and experiential learning: The complexity and scale of achieving long-term resilience will require a number of enabling conditions, each providing an essential part of the implementation and financing system.  One of the most important of these conditions is leadership and engaged, informed decision-making.  EFC’s resilience leadership program focus on providing opportunities for new leaders entering the public policy and business industries, as well providing established leaders with an opportunity to expand their skill sets and understanding of innovative policy and financing interventions.

Key projects:

 GUIDING PRINCIPLES

 CRI is a different kind of initiative, designed to achieve business-like success while maximizing economic, social and environmental impacts.  The nature and scope of our work will naturally evolve over time and adapt to the needs of the communities where we work, but a set of four foundational elements will remain constant:

 PROGRAM STRUCTURE

The Community Resilience Initiative is a joint venture of the Environmental Finance Center (EFC) at the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and the Center for Global Sustainability (CGS) at the School of Public Policy.

CRI is managed and directed by EFC, an organization with over 25 years of experience providing technical assistance and financing policy capacity to communities throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. CGS is the academic and research lead for CRI, with its experience informing policy discussions at all governance levels on climate, energy, development, and sustainability.

For more information on CRI and EFC’s resilience programs and projects, please contact Brandy Espinola at 301-314-9491 or bespinola@umd.edu.