Climate Leadership Academy on Adaptive Water Resource Management & Infrastructure

PHOTO CREDIT: Chesapeake Bay Program
  • Overview
  • Overview

    June 24 – 26, 2013
    Philadelphia, PA

    Interested local leaders should complete and return the online applications
    by Wed, May 1st, 2013.

    button apply now


    North American cities are already experiencing the impacts of global climate disruption. Rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and extreme weather events have given rise to new and increased risks, especially to critical water management systems and infrastructure for drinking, wastewater and storm water. Local and regional government and water utility officials, who are called upon to deal with these risks, are recognizing that new approaches are needed for assessing, prioritizing and managing current and potential climate impacts.

    Local and regional governments and utilities across the country, working in partnership with their residents and their private and nonprofit sectors, are pioneering a host of innovative responses that both improve water resource management practices and build the community’s climate resilience, including: new forecasting methods for demand and supply; better stormwater management through green infrastructure; more robust financial models; integration of water resource management, economic development and social equity goals and agendas; and cross-sector and jurisdictional partnerships for adaptive water infrastructure. These "promising practices" are informing state and federal agency efforts, and the best among them can be widely replicated by local and regional governments across the country.

    In this third national Climate Leadership Academy (CLA) on Adaptation & Resilience, we will take a closer look at climate-related risks to water infrastructure and explore how new, sustainable business models are improving the resilience of communities' water resources, from supply to waste water.

    The Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) invites teams of five senior officials and/or key stakeholders from up to 12 North American cities and metropolitan regions to participate in the third national convening of the Climate Leadership Academy (CLA) on Adaptation & Resilience – a unique training and peer-learning opportunity, focused on improving, expanding and accelerating cities’ efforts to better assess, prioritize and manage the local risks of climate change.

    This workshop is part of ISC’s broader Sustainable Communities Leadership Academy (SCLA), a program that builds the capacity of communities – cities, towns, counties, metropolitan regions and rural areas – to advance, accelerate and scale-up local solutions to the global challenges of climate protection and sustainable development.

    “My participation in the Climate Leadership Academy on Adaptation and Resilience created an inflection point for our work in this arena. The experience of bringing together a team from our City to work and learn collaboratively with other cities was remarkable. Our City’s engagement and focus on this topic has increased dramatically and continues to build momentum. The experience truly created a call for action in our organization.” - Kerrie Romanow, Acting Director, Environmental Services Department, City of San Jose, CA


    Each city- or region-led team should consist of:

    1. A team captain, either the public works director or another senior city official with leadership responsibility for climate change adaptation and resilience as it relates to water resource management and infrastructure; and
    2. Up to four key stakeholders that are—or will need to be—deeply engaged in the local/regional water infrastructure climate adaptation strategy. (Including up to two additional team members is optional, however all costs for these individuals will need to be covered by the team.)

    Teams must be cross-agency, cross-sector and cross-jurisdictional, as appropriate. They should be composed of individuals with decision-making responsibility and authority for programs that are directly related to the water-related climate adaptation challenges faced by your city and region. Team members may represent:

    1. Local or regional public works departments or equivalent agencies responsible for water resource management, including both water supply and stormwater management;
    2. Water utilities;
    3. Other key local and regional agencies, e.g. those focused on land-use planning, natural resource management, community and economic development, public health and disaster preparedness/emergency response;
    4. Private-sector organizations, such as engineering companies engaged in water resource management and infrastructure;
    5. Key nonprofit stakeholders, such as watershed councils and conservation groups;
    6. Universities and other major institutions (e.g. hospitals, ports, etc.);

    The goal is for team leaders to assemble partners across agencies, sectors and jurisdictions with whom they can both share this unique training and peer-learning opportunity, and enhance collaboration for building their community’s climate resilience after they return home. Team composition choices should be driven by the nature of the water adaptation challenges your community faces.

    While this academy is geared towards serving cities/regions already engaged in developing and implementing local adaptation strategies, it is also open to communities who have yet to begin formalizing an adaptation strategy but have identified adaptation as a key city focus.

    “I've been in the municipal water utility business for almost 25 years and I have been exposed to many training seminars and workshops during my tenure. Your CLA event in Boston last September conspicuously stands out as one of the very best training experiences I've had over the years. It was enlightening to be with so many talented municipal professionals from all over the country. I appreciated being exposed to both their successes and challenges. I believe much of the sharing and focused discussion readily generalizes across communities despite the regional differences. Your team was very organized and because of their efforts, we accomplished a lot in a very short time. It was hard productive work. I left your event inspired both professionally and personally. I have since brought fresh energy to my utility's climate change preparedness planning process.” - Ralph P. Marra, Water Resources Management Administrator, Tucson Water


    This CLA will help you and your team advance and improve water infrastructure climate adaptation and resilience efforts by exposing you to the best available information, expertise and thinking in the field, and by offering opportunities to both share with and learn from your peers across the country. Communities that take systematic approaches to adapt to a changing global climate will be best positioned to inform and benefit from federal efforts, and will ultimately be able to better protect their residents and local economies from climate disruption.

    By leaving daily responsibilities behind and working with your team for three days, you will have the chance to foster new relationships and return home with shared understandings that can inform your future efforts. Unlike other events where individuals attend in isolation, the CLA creates powerful team learning opportunities, which resonate long after participants return home.

    “The Climate Leadership Academy was the catalyst that pushed us forward in our climate adaptation efforts. While we had been doing some work on the water issues, we had not started the larger-scope analysis of our future climate issues and adaptation needs. The CLA introduced us to other western cities with the same needs, and from that meeting we created a collaborative effort of seven western cities that have now met twice to discuss how we can work together regionally on climate adaptation. The CLA gave us a great common background that we could then to discuss our mutual needs and efforts.” - Vicki Bennett, Sustainability Director, City of Salt Lake, UT

    ISC will finalize the scope and design of this CLA over the next few months, by consulting directly with the selected cities. ISC staff will contact participants to learn about successes that can be showcased at the workshop, as well as specific challenges they are facing and to determine the types of training and peer-learning opportunities they most need and want. Highlights of this CLA workshop will include:

    • A diverse mix of 10-12 city- or region-led teams of practitioners from throughout the country;
    • Plenty of time for networking, learning and strategizing within and across those teams;
    • A faculty consisting of leading national experts and practitioners;
    • One or two inspiring keynote presentations;
    • A resource guide synthesizing best available information, ideas and “promising practices”;
    • A blend of interactive panel discussions and small-group working sessions focused on key challenges, including but not limited to the following:
      1. Assessing risks and setting priorities for action;
      2. Making the case for climate adaptation for water infrastructure and communicating climate risks (e.g. cost-benefit analysis, communications strategies, etc.)
      3. Implementing holistic water management programs such as source protection, water conservation, and green infrastructure;
      4. Financing water-related climate adaptation efforts;
      5. Collaborating with key partners at the local/regional, state and federal levels; and
      6. Monitoring, evaluation, and adjustment of risk management strategies.

      This CLA workshop will take place at the Radisson Plaza Warwick Hotel in downtown Philadelphia, PA, beginning mid-day on June 24th and ending after noon on June 26th.

      The per participant registration fee is $500. ISC will cover flight costs (up to $500) and hotel stay (June 24th and June 25th only) for the five (5) team members. ISC will provide breakfast, lunch and snacks to participants throughout the course of the program. Participants are responsible for all other related costs, including ground transportation, dinners and any additional nights of hotel stay.

      ISC has limited scholarship funds available for practitioners who could not otherwise afford to participate. Please contact Becky Webber at to discuss scholarship requests.

      “It felt like stealing. There was no reasonable way to get that much high-quality information in such a short period of time.” - Charles Whatley, Director of Commerce and Entrepreneurship, Atlanta Development Authority


      ISC has a 22 year history building the capacity of communities around the world to meet their sustainable development challenges and opportunities. For the past four years ISC’s national and regional Sustainable Communities Leadership Academies have been providing high-caliber, affordable training and peer-learning services to cities and regions forging local solutions to global climate disruption and fostering sustainable communities. Previous SCLA workshops have focused on low carbon transportation, building energy efficiency and retrofitting; green job creation; climate adaptation and resilience; and sustainable community/regional development. Here are just a few participant testimonials from these workshops:

      “I wanted you and the rest of your team to know that these were the most interesting, engaging and productive days I have ever spent at a conference-type event. The design, content and participant mix was beyond fantastic, as were the “mixer” breakfasts, huddles, and table assignments… Thank you, thank you, thank you!” - Sabrina Campbell, Program Coordinator, Upper Rio Grande Workforce Development Board, El Paso, TX

      “It was one of the best experiences I had as a planner. It was spectacular. The sessions just got better and better. It was invaluable in helping us figure out how to work together. We clicked.” – Jennifer Rimmer, Director of Economic Development, Nassau County, New York/Connecticut “We got three months of work done in three days...” - Larry Frank, Deputy Mayor for Neighborhood and Community Services, City of Los Angeles

      In all, ISC has managed more than 91 projects in more than 25 countries. For more information, please visit

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