San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative

San Diego, CA


U.S. Navy Cmdr. Craig Reiner flies an F/A-18C Hornet strike fighter from Fleet Readiness Center Southwest over Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., and the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Nov. 18, 2008, in San Diego. The Hornet is painted to match that of the first F/A-18 flight on its 30th. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

The San Diego region is world-renowned for its mild climate and world-class beaches that span more than 70 miles of coastline. The region encompasses more than 4,200 square miles, an area greater than Rhode Island and Delaware combined. Natural assets in the region are varied, with beaches, bays, wetlands, rivers, mountains, deserts, hundreds of canyons and stretches of creek habitats scattered throughout the urban environment.

The region is home to a diverse population of more than 3.1 million people, larger than that of 20 individual states, and is expected to grow by approximately one million more by 2050. Residents in San Diego’s 18 different municipalities and unincorporated county are approximately one-third Latino, and comprised of a substantial Asian and African-American population. There are 18 Native American tribal reservations in the region, more than any other county in the nation. There is a large and growing racial generation gap between the region’s mainly Caucasian senior population and its diverse youth population, posing significant challenges for regional sustainability and resilience.

San Diego is a border region with a combined population of 4.7 million sharing many social, economic and cultural ties with neighbors in Tijuana. As a result, the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa border crossings are the most crossed international border in the world. Water and energy resources are precious, as the region imports most of its water (approximately 85 percent) and energy.

This $191 billion regional economy is comprised of more than 77,000 businesses (with at least one employee), with small businesses dominating that landscape (57 percent have 1-4 employees). The region’s largest economic sectors include military (aerospace, navigation and maritime), entertainment/hospitality and innovation/technology as well as biotech/pharma.

Housing affordability is a big challenge in the region, with a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey estimating that San Diegans pay a higher percentage of their incomes for housing (31 percent) than do residents of any other major metropolitan area in the country.

The region faces various critical challenges from a changing climate including:

  • Droughts
  • Hotter and more humid heat waves
  • Less frequent but more intense rainfall
  • Extreme high tides and winter storms resulting in more frequent and widespread coastal flooding
  • Wildfire seasons may be longer and more extreme
  • Coastlines, beaches, and unique plants and animals, along with the benefits they provide San Diegans, will be threatened


Founded in 2012, the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative is a network of public agencies that share expertise, leverage resources, and advance comprehensive solutions to facilitate climate change planning. By partnering with academia, nonprofit organizations, and business /community leaders, the collaborative works to raise the profile of regional leadership. The vision is to elevate the San Diego region as a leader in addressing climate change through local comprehensive solutions that ensure a vibrant economy and healthy environment. The overall goals of the Climate Collaborative are to:

  • Support regional efforts and advance comprehensive solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for local climate change impacts
  • Expand the membership and effectiveness of the Climate Collaborative
  • Communicate about the leadership of the Climate Collaborative and the San Diego region to local, state, and national leaders, peers, and funding institutions
  • Build capacity within San Diego regional public agencies through networking, training, and partnerships with academic institutions, businesses, and nonprofits

Current public-agency members include: Cities of Chula Vista, Encinitas, Oceanside and San Diego; County of San Diego; Port of San Diego; San Diego Airport Authority; San Diego Association of Governments; Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve. Non-public agency members include CleanTECH San Diego, The San Diego Foundation, San Diego Gas & Electric, San Diego State University Center for Regional Sustainability and the University of San Diego. The collaborative does not have statutory authority, but aims to build the capacity of agencies within their existing jurisdiction to respond to climate change both as individual agencies and in coordination with each other.


  • Governance – The Climate Collaborative Steering Committee worked actively over the course of 2013 to develop documents outlining the structure of the newly-formed entity including the steering committee, membership for public agencies and private entities, solidify fiscal sponsorship at the University of San Diego, and hire the first staff manager of the collaborative. The collaborative held a retreat for the steering committee to develop priorities and goals once the first staff person was hired.
  • Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategy for San Diego Bay – This Strategy for San Diego Bay, released by ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability on Feb. 16, 2012, was one of the first regional approaches to sea level rise adaptation, and resulted from the efforts of a broad collaboration of stakeholders, including the local governments around San Diego Bay, the Port of San Diego, San Diego Airport Authority, and many others with facilitation by ICLEI. Agencies in the Public Agency Steering Committee (as well as additional north county cities and the Navy) have continued meeting and coordinating actions, proposed projects, modeling and vulnerability approaches, policy recommendations and other plan updates to incorporate sea level rise into various other local plans.
  • County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan Update – ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, San Diego County Office of Emergency Services, The San Diego Foundation and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, is providing technical assistance and stakeholder engagement around the incorporation of climate change impacts and adaptation in the 2015 update to the San Diego County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan. The project has now held several workshops with county emergency managers to discuss climate science and how climate considerations can be integrated into hazard mitigation planning. A final workshop was held in September to review the draft risk assessments and provide additional input on how climate change is addressed within them.


  • Expanding current focus of membership recruitment from public agencies to private sectors – how to productively engage private sector organizations in mutually beneficial ways while also managing collaborative size and impact.
  • Providing value from the regional collaborative to a diverse set of agency members of various sizes (especially smaller agencies), capacities, community preferences and leadership priorities.
  • Bridging cross-departmental silos.
  • Expanding funding for implementing climate action plans (mitigation and adaptation), as well as piecing together diverse funding streams and resources that may have divergent goals or conditions.