Sustainable Jersey Resiliency Program

The Sustainable Jersey Resiliency Program is a statewide initiative to help municipalities strengthen their resiliency to the impacts of climate change. The Resiliency Program began in 2011 with a newly formed Climate Adaptation Task Force, consisting of representatives from the state agencies, non-profits, professional organizations and other organizations and experts in climate change and municipal resiliency. Our first project was the development of a flood risk action, which was released prior to Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Since Sandy, the program has responded to the overwhelming need for local support and clear guidance and standards to assess vulnerabilities and strengthen local resiliency. As such, our work has focused on municipal outreach, understanding the needs of communities, sharing tools and resources with local officials, and collaborating with partners to develop new tools and provide technical assistance to communities. 

Municipal Resilience is the ability of a community to adapt and thrive in the face of extreme events and stresses 

Understanding existing and projected changes in the climate system is a fundamental starting point for local communities to develop plans and take actions to address how those changes impact their residents, resources and infrastructure. Climatic changes such as extreme heat, severe storms, flooding, drought, and sea level rise pose threats to a wide variety of sectors including the built environment (e.g., roads, buildings), water resources, agriculture, forests, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation, human health, and others.  Most of these impacts can be addressed through preventive action. Thinking ahead about the impacts of climate change on these sectors is essential for communities to reduce risks and lower the long-term costs of damage resulting from climate change.

Resiliency Work Program

Our resiliency work program focuses on four strategic areas to assist municipalities in strengthening their resiliency to the impacts of climate change, including, but not limited to sea level rise, coastal and inland flooding from extreme precipitation and coastal storms, extreme heat, and increased risk of fire due to heat, drought and conditions. The four areas of focus are:  

  • Technical Assistance – Meeting facilitation and technical assistance with vulnerability assessments and other tools
  • Development of New Tools and Resources – Collaboration with partners in research and the development of new and refined tools for municipal resilience
  • Incentivized Resiliency Actions – A slate of resiliency actions to be included in Sustainable Jersey’s Certification Program
  • Education and Training – Workshops, webinars and online resources

FEMA Field Assistance

Assessing New Jersey's Municipal Needs

In 2014 Sustainable Jersey completed a “Post-Sandy Municipal Needs Assessment for Long-Term Recovery and Resiliency Planning.” Utilizing a mixed methods approach, the assessment integrated data from 87 municipalities across the 10 coastal counties hardest hit by Sandy. The assessment results detail a number of challenges that municipalities continue to face as they work to be more resilient. These include a need for help with risk and vulnerability assessments; a lack of clarity about what constitutes an adequate effort to identify future risk; ongoing need for technical expertise to mitigate flooding impacts; and a need for funding to harden local infrastructure, public buildings and improve the resilience of local energy systems.  To review the Needs Assessment, click HERE.

Taking a Strategic Approach to Resiliency

Based upon the Municipal Needs Assessment and our extensive field experience, Sustainable Jersey recognized there was a need for a big picture strategy that can guide the activities of communities, as well as those of the NGOs and state agencies seeking to support them.  We developed a Municipal Resilience Cycle that illustrates the phases municipalities will need to move through to become resilient. The Municipal Resilience Cycle provides a strategic framework for guiding our collective work and investments in developing best practices, strategies, standards and tools—as well as support programs and educational offerings—to build local capacity for action at each stage in the cycle.

Our program objective is to ensure that there are clear tools and resources, as well as performance standards, to support and track municipal progress in each of the 5 phases of the Cycle.  To view the Cycle, click HERE.

Contact Us

To learn more about the Resiliency Program and our current projects, contact Linda Weber, Resiliency Director, at weberl@tcnj.edu.