Climate Resilience

Resilience is the ability of a system or community to survive disruption and to anticipate, adapt, and flourish in the face of change.

It is increasingly essential that in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, colleges and universities must also ensure that decisions are smart in the face of expected and unexpected climate-related changes. Colleges and universities across the U.S. are already feeling the impacts of climate change. This section provides guidance and resources for colleges and universities during each stage of the resilience planning process.

The resilience of any campus or community will be based on its own unique set of characteristics, future goals, existing capacity and strengths, and current and future vulnerabilities. Part of developing increased resilience is undertaking the social engagement, assessment, and planning process itself. The most successful campus resilience plans will be those that fully embrace the catalytic nature of resilience assessment and planning, and that incorporate diversity and inclusiveness throughout the process.

Resilience Planning Process

This diagram outlines the key steps in Second Nature’s framework for resilience planning. Second Nature’s framework encourages schools to not only assess and reduce vulnerability, but also to assess and enhance overall resilience and adaptive capacity. Campuses should go beyond managing extreme and potentially catastrophic events; they should proactively plan for preferable futures. Resilience building is an iterative process. While these steps appear to be linear, in reality campuses may be working on multiple steps simultaneously.


Resilience touches on all aspects of a campus and surrounding community. To help campuses think comprehensively about resilience, Second Nature breaks it down into five dimensions: Ecosystem Services, Infrastructure, Social Equity & Governance, Health & Wellness, and Economic. These dimensions are not mutually exclusive. They are meant to encourage a holistic assessment of resilience and adaptive capacity. Considering each of these dimensions in the context of climate change will help campuses and communities develop a resilience plan that addresses the entire system. Resilience is not just about survival and bouncing back from disruptions; it is about being able to thrive.


For more information about the resilience planning process, please email [email protected].