ABOUT THE REGION
Located at the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers, between the Delta and the Sierra Nevada foothills, the Capital Region consists of El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba counties. The region encompasses urban, rural, and agricultural perspectives. While Sacramento is chiefly known as the seat of state government, it also supports academic institutions and innovative clean tech and clean energy businesses. Agriculture is a key economic driver for many communities; the region’s prime farmland produces direct output worth $1.66 billion, which is exported across the US and the world. People of color make up 44 percent of the region’s 2.2 million residents, and the city of Sacramento was named America’s Most Diverse City. Disparities exist, however, in household income, education attainment, environmental exposure, and more – the region’s elderly, low-income, non-English speaking, and environmental justice populations are at greater risk to climate impacts.
Key climate impacts include wildfire, river flooding, vulnerable infrastructure, public health (extreme heat and vector-borne diseases), deteriorating air quality, and vulnerabilities in water and energy supply. Many of these impacts will affect the agricultural economy and agricultural communities. Vulnerable infrastructure includes 11,000 miles of levees – Sacramento has the second-highest flood risk in the US – Folsom Dam, Sacramento International Airport, freight and passenger railway, the Port of Sacramento, as well as the State Water Project and San Joaquin Project, which funnel water to the Central Valley and Southern California. The region’s highways and bridges are also aging and in need of repairs.
ABOUT THIS COLLABORATIVE
The idea for the Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative (CRC) initially formed after the National Climate Adaptation Forum in 2013 and conversations with representatives from San Diego, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area, who were all developing their own regional climate adaptation groups. Realizing that inland California faced different impacts and worked in a different economic and political context, local representatives decided to form the CRC to bring a new, unique voice to the table of the statewide Alliance of Regional Collaboratives on Climate Adaptation. The collaborative steering committee consists of representatives from the Air District, the regional council of governments, UC Davis, the Local Government Commission, and local utilities. CRC plans to invite local agencies, nonprofit organizations, businesses, schools, and other entities to join the collaborative as members.
The CRC has convened several stakeholder engagement meetings on key regional climate impacts, conducted a needs assessment of local water agencies, and participated in exchanges with the statewide collaborative of regional adaptation organizations. The collaborative has multiple goals, including:
- Providing a regional forum for interested organizations.
- Increasing regional support and coordination on climate adaptation initiatives.
- Working together to obtain funding, leverage resources and opportunities, and avoid duplication.
- Developing a common understanding of regional vulnerabilities.
- Helping identify regional priorities, information and capacity needs; and sharing information and best practices.
PROMISING PRACTICES AND INNOVATIONS
The collaborative has a history of working with effective partners and coalitions. One such successful collaboration is the Farm to Fork to Fuel to Farm Working Group, which brings together a local clean energy startup with nonprofit organizations, city governments, and the Air District to turn food waste into clean, renewable energy. This effort is now collecting food waste from an ever-increasing number of locations in the region, while educating the public and showcasing the benefits of a clean economy.
Individual members are very active in climate adaptation and mitigation as well. The Sacramento Municipal Utilities District has aggressive distributed solar, home weatherization, and renewable energy deployment programs, and has already begun to study the vulnerabilities of its energy infrastructure. The Sacramento Area Council of Governments focuses on planning for smart growth and is actively working to increase electric vehicle adoption. Through its incentive programs, the Sacramento Air District is spurring the adoption of cleaner heavy-duty vehicles. The Local Government Commission facilitates a local government coalition working on energy efficiency and is a founding partner of the California Adaptation Forum. The City of Sacramento is one of many that have adopted a Climate Action Plan.
THE CHALLENGES AHEAD
Among the specific challenges the CRC faces:
- Effectively engaging with local governments and agencies in jurisdictions that may not have the political will or the financial and resource capacity to prioritize climate adaptation.
- Engaging effectively with the agricultural community, which is a key stakeholder in the region.
- Convincing local governments that climate adaptation should not be overlooked among the multiple concerns competing for action, and that regional collaboratives can coordinate and support projects without challenging local governance and authority.
- Effectively juggling its multiple roles as convener (bringing together stakeholders), catalyst (enabling projects), coordinator (facilitating project and funding opportunities), and connector (linking to state and other regional efforts). What is the most effective way to fund and deliver projects that serve the entire region – such as a vulnerability or needs assessment – with the necessary buy-in and participation from currently disengaged communities?
- In addition, as with any collaborative, growing capacity and funding programs will be a constant challenge. The CRC is interested in how other similar organizations are accomplishing the necessary administrative functions to accomplish their primary mission.