The Equitable Resilience Framework

Project Info
  • Theme Forms of Power
  • Type Framework
  • Scale State
  • Location Massachusetts
  • AuthorsJanelle Knox-Hayes (PI)Nicholas Ashford Sarah Williams David BirgeGabriella CaroliniNicholas de MonchauxRania GhosnCourtney HumphriesSally HaslangerEric Robsky HuntleyCaroline JonesMiho MazereeuwCaitlin MuellerLeslie NorfordMary Anne OcampoJustin SteilLawrence Vale
  • CollaboratorsSurbhi AgarwalJohan Aran-Go-QuirogaShekhar ChandraColleen Chiu-SheeOsamu Moses KumasakaDeni LopezHaley SchillingAntares Villaneda

The goal of this project is to create an equitable and inclusive design and planning process that will purposefully enhance community capabilities and sovereignty over decision-making, while also helping projects achieve more successful long-term outcomes. An equitable approach to climate resilience strives for fairness in multiple facets and stages. It ensures that people are treated according to their needs and with consideration of both current and historical contexts and of relative advantages or disadvantages. 

Climate will disrupt the fundamental conditions that human societies depend on to thrive. Its impacts will also be profoundly unequal. While some individuals and communities will have the resources to adapt to or avoid the worst impacts of climate change, others will find their homes becoming uninhabitable, their livelihoods vanishing, and their health and security threatened by a changing climate. Indigenous peoples face an existential threat — with their survival dependent on a rapidly changing ecosystem. Underserved and low-income neighborhoods lack infrastructure to keep residents safe from hazards like excessive heat and floods.

Climate policy needs to change. The history of social engineering projects shows that top-down climate solutions fail vulnerable communities. The Equitable Resilience Framework (ERF) is a toolkit for policymakers for community-led planning, decision-making, and communication. The outcomes of the ERF are solutions that are fair and equitable, increase climate resilience and address basic human needs, and lead to long-term structural change. The framework is built on the following pillars:

  • Capabilities Approach: eschews simplistic economic measures— like income — in favor of a holistic understanding of human flourishing. The development of human capacities (e.g., life, health, mobility, education, etc.) are prioritized over economic growth. Local communities determine which capabilities to prioritize, and policy is designed with regard for the local infrastructure, culture, and values.
  • Modified Trade-Off Analysis: integrates strategies for problem formulation, stakeholder and power analyses, consensus building, and multi-criteria analysis to arrive at transparent, equitable, and effective solutions.
  • Knowledge Convergence: increases knowledge among local communities, governments, and scientists using transmedia communication, data visualizations, artistic interventions, and community science and data integration. Public communication about climate science uses multiple channels, and diverse sources of knowledge (e.g., indigenous ecological knowledge) are recognized.

The framework and protocols we are developing for climate mitigation and adaptation are novel, intended to situate local social practices, knowledge, and values at the heart of the policymaking process. This approach will balance community values and needs with other decision-making parameters. It will enhance and enrich communication between scientists, civil society, and policymakers working on resilience and adaptation strategies. It will help integrate regional and national climate strategies with community-led planning, design, and policymaking to improve resilience and adaptation on a local level. And it will assist groups, particularly underrepresented frontline and Black Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC) communities, in shaping their own equitable strategies for building resilience. 

Equitable Resilience Framework

Equitable Resilience Framework, defining operation across the three pillars of 1) Human, community, and social impacts of climate change, 2) Implementation and policy, and 3) Climate observation, forecasting, and risk.

Dení Lopez

Temporal depth of resilience adaptations across domains, describing the differentiation of concepts of community and resilience by their impact and emphasis across time.

Dení Lopez