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Over the past year, the CUDC has been working with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, the University of Buffalo, the Cleveland Office of Sustainability, and a host of local partners on an initiative to improve climate resilience in Cleveland neighborhoods.
Although climate change is typically considered a problem for coastal cities, the inland cities of the Great Lakes are also at risk of more extreme weather, protracted heat waves, and increased precipitation. The adverse impacts of climate change disproportionately impact lower income residents and the elderly. This planning effort focused most specifically on the needs of these residents through community-driven projects and programs.
We had a one year planning grant from the Kresge Foundation that supported the work of a team of Climate Ambassadors in Cleveland’s Glenville, Slavic Village, Central-Kinsman, and Detroit Shoreway neighborhoods. These four neighborhoods were selected because they are representative of conditions found throughout Cleveland and in other Great Lakes cities. Our planning approach integrates local knowledge and community-based ideas with scientific expertise to help determine where programs and interventions will be most effective in combatting the adverse impacts of climate variability and change. The climate ambassadors received training in basic climate science and mitigation/adaptation strategies They then served as resources throughout the planning process, recruiting participants for community workshops and helping to identify and prioritize ideas for projects, programs, policies, and future research that would help advance climate resiliency at the neighborhood scale.
Based on this initial, nine-month planning process the Kresge Foundation has awarded $660,000 in implementation funding to Cleveland over the next three years. The George Gund Foundation has provided $40,000 in matching support. These funds will be used to:
- Expand and amplify community engagement efforts and develop new and innovative ways to bring more diverse participants into climate planning and adaptation initiatives.
- Build on recommendations in existing plans, especially the Cleveland Climate Action Plan, the Climate Action Toolkit, the Cleveland Tree Plan, Re-imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland, and the Cleveland Complete & Green Streets Typologies plan.
- Connect with existing officials at the region-, county-, and city- level to coordinate climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.
- Leverage the city’s growing inventory of vacant land, to convert some of these sites into neighborhood assets that enhance property values and buffer residents against the adverse effects of climate change.
- Connect with ongoing efforts in other Great Lakes Region cities to share lessons learned and promote resilience at the regional level.
Out of over 250 initial applicants to Kresge’s Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity initiative, Cleveland is one of only twelve cities to be selected for implementation funding and the only city in the Great Lakes to receive this support. The CUDC is proud to be a partner on this important and exciting project.