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Sustainable Solutions - Sonoma County Climate Assessment, Planning, Resilience & Preparedness by Sam Euston - June 2015


Sustainable Solutions:
June 2015 - by Sam Euston

by Sam Euston

Sonoma County Climate Assessment, Planning, Resilience & Preparedness

Yesterday I was provided the opportunity to attend the “Building A Climate-Ready Roadmap” workshop which was an additional segment to last month’s Sonoma County Adaptation Forum.  It was very well organized, engaging and led by Genevieve Taylor, whom never ceases to amaze me with her many talents and skills!

I’m encouraged seeing so many community members who: are knowledgeable and innovative, deeply caring and actively participating in climate adaptation dialogues, innovative approaches and sustainable solutions.   I also found that the discourse, objectives and exercises presented by the workshop leaders, helped to guide and encourage participants’ active engagement. 

I mention this because discussions regarding climate change and adaptation, can become challenging and overwhelming.  Having a solution based group, who with prior research and consideration prepare a list of potential  objectives was and is very helpful.  The research they contributed and provided in their handouts, presented the communities vulnerabilities, as well as its strengths and innovative approaches.  This well prepared approach helps support the passion and determination needed to get through the growth stages, the tough decisions and challenges.

The organizers provided an initial draft list of 13 Objectives, from which our discussions throughout the workshop could initiate and evolve.  All the objectives were interrelated, and considered essential in building adaptive climate resilience.

I’d like to share the initial draft objectives  with you, to also encourage your thought, consideration and dialogue. Please feel free to email me at:  and I’ll forward your thoughts and considerations to Sonoma County Adaptation Forum leaders.  

I’d also like to encourage you to go to their website and complete the survey on Climate Adaptation Objectives and Potential Solutions.  Here’s their link: .  Sonoma County is evolving as an innovative leader in Climate Assessment, Planning, Resilience & Preparedness, and getting your survey participation is valuable toward collecting a representative cross reference of community wide input.

Sonoma County could possibly be one of the only counties in the U.S. that completed an assessment on its Climate Hazards and Vulnerabilities.  Here’s the link for it:  The DRAFT Objectives are based on this assessment.

Sonoma County Climate Adaptation DRAFT Objectives:

Proposed by RCPA (Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority) and NBCAI (North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative).

DRAFT OBJECTIVES:   (Note: Objective numbers do not indicate priority)



  1. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Reduce emissions consistent with the scientific imperative to avoid catastrophic change.

  1. Increase the knowledge and capacity to respond to climate hazards, especially in vulnerable populations.

Explore opportunities to provide education resources about climate hazards, especially to vulnerable populations. Link vulnerable populations to services that reduce safety, health and financial risks related to climate hazards

  1. Mainstream the use of climate projections (not just past patterns) in planning, design, and budgeting.

Education and sharing of information among government agencies, explore the feasibility of creating guidelines for how to use climate information in planning and decision-making.

  1. Promote a sustainable, climate-resilient economy.


Better define the economic risks of climate change, communicate to businesses and the broader community what practices contribute to climate resilience and how to adopt them.

  1. Promote healthy communities.

Invest in measures that build community capacity to adapt to climate change such as improving baseline health, well-being, and financial security.

  1. Protect coastal, bayside, and inland buffer zones.

Protect, expand, and enhance wetlands, water source areas, and flood zones, review/revise land management plans and development codes, parks plans, and fire management zones.

  1. Promote food system security and agricultural climate preparedness.

Promote peer to peer agricultural adaptation networking, assess potential need to cultivate alternative crops.

  1. Protect water resources.

Conserve and reuse water, protect and enhance groundwater recharge areas, capture storm and flood water, protect streamside areas.

  1. Protect energy resources.

Invest in strategies to ensure the long-term sustainability of energy resources.

10.  Protect buildings, infrastructure, and transportation systems.

Conduct an assessment of risk by evaluating the climate effects on key infrastructure, buildings, and transit systems.

11.  Increase emergency preparedness.

Inter-agency planning; public education about climate hazards; assess and address gaps in vulnerable populations’ capacity to respond to extreme events.

12.  Monitor the changing climate and its biophysical effects, in real time.

Measure actual conditions to validate and/or refine models of climate and climate change effects, in order to plan and manage with better information.

13.  Reduce non-climate stressors: pollution, hydro-modification, disease, and economic and demographic stressors.


Increase the health and resilience of social, natural, and built resources to understand the impacts of climate change.


There are opportunities that were mentioned for each objective, and I’ll include them in the web version of this column, we don’t have room to include them in the print version.

Throughout the morning and afternoon sessions the questions that I kept (internally) asking myself were: “What are our values as a community? Are there fundamental values that are congruent with the diverse cultures within our community? What is the vision (based on our values), that we as a community can agree upon, support and actively engage?”

Some of the values that I heard shared in this group were: environmental quality (i.e. … air, land, water), our children, health, equity, preservation of our resources (such as: our water and agriculture), respect of diverse ideas, education, security, emergency preparedness.  The vision I saw was one of a community that truly cares about its people, it’s adaptability as well as sustainability, and it’s future.