Experiencing Climate Change Firsthand 

Communities in Texas and Oklahoma are already feeling the impacts of climate change in their everyday lives. Texas, in particular, is vulnerable to a variety of natural hazards, many of which are linked to weather and climate events. The Southern Great Plains (Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas) features weather that is dramatic and consequential, as described by the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4). The residents and economies in this region are subjected to increased extreme weather events including tornadoes, large hail, ice storms, and drought, to name a few. Average annual precipitation spans a wide gradient: from less than 10 inches in the western reaches of Texas to over 60 inches in the southeastern corner along the border with Arkansas and Louisiana. Although the most populated cities in Texas have developed local climate action plans, these efforts often lack cohesive, collaborative actions that engage communities beyond the city limits. This is a significant gap, as climate change effects do not adhere to political boundaries, impacting rural areas and tribal nations alike. 

In the coming decades, Texas and Oklahoma are expected to experience increasingly hot and dry summers. This change poses a serious threat to the productivity of farms and ranches, could alter landscapes, and potentially harm human health. Addressing these issues requires comprehensive and collaborative regional strategies that transcend urban areas and engage all affected communities. 


Building Skills and Knowledge 

Throughout the cohort, participants engaged in a series of brief exercises and interactive workshops designed to enhance their understanding of Climate Risk and Vulnerability Assessments (CRVAs), resilience planning, regional climate projections, and inclusive community engagement. By the end of the cohort, participants had developed a baseline understanding of these critical areas, equipping them with the tools needed to build more resilient communities. 


Key Topics Covered 

The cohort focused on several key topics essential for building climate resilience: 

  • Resilience planning: Resilience planning involves the development of strategies and actions that help communities, organizations, and ecosystems adapt to and recover from adverse climate events. This includes creating comprehensive plans that address potential risks, incorporating climate change projections into planning processes, and prioritizing actions that enhance the ability to withstand and bounce back from disruptions. 
  • Regional climate projections: Regional climate projections provide detailed information about how climate change is expected to impact specific geographic areas. These projections are essential for understanding localized climate patterns and potential changes in temperature, precipitation, sea level rise, and extreme weather events. 
  • Climate and environmental equity: Climate and environmental equity focuses on ensuring that the benefits and burdens of climate action are distributed fairly across all communities, particularly marginalized and vulnerable populations. This includes addressing disparities in exposure to climate risks, access to resources, and participation in decision-making processes. 
  • Climate Risk and Vulnerability Assessments (CRVAs): Climate Risk and Vulnerability Assessments (CRVAs) are systematic evaluations of the potential impacts of climate change on various sectors, communities, and ecosystems. These assessments identify vulnerabilities and risks associated with climate hazards such as flooding, drought, heatwaves, and storms. 


Successful Outcomes 

The ICLEI Resilience Training Cohort recently concluded its final session, with 19 engaged participants. A key outcome of the cohort was for several local governments to take the knowledge gained and proactively apply it to their climate reports and planning efforts. This application of learning marks a significant step forward in building climate resilience across Texas and Oklahoma. 


Moving Forward 

The Texas and Oklahoma Regional Resilience Cohort represents a promising model for how local governments can work together to address the challenges posed by climate change and improve their community’s efficiency. By continuing to foster collaboration and sharing knowledge, these communities can build a more resilient future for all their residents, ensuring that no one is left behind in the face of climate change. 


Call To Action 

These opportunities to participate in cohorts come about from participating in the Community Efficiency Leadership Coalition (CELC). 

Joining the CELC network offers access to a diverse community of over 1,000 professionals, fostering valuable connections and collaborative opportunities. Members receive ten hours of dedicated technical assistance, ensuring they have the support needed to tackle complex challenges. Additionally, CELC provides access to a variety of templates for climate plans, support letters, and energy plans, streamlining the process of creating comprehensive and effective documents. 

Members also benefit from resource-filled newsletters delivered monthly, keeping them informed of the latest developments and opportunities. The closed CELC LinkedIn Group serves as a platform for information sharing, enhancing collaboration and knowledge exchange among members. 

To join, check out this page. For more information on the cohort and future opportunities, visit the SPEER and ICLEI USA websites. Together, we can make a difference in building resilient, sustainable communities.