Updated: Apr 29
The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN) is a project of Notre Dame University. It was conceived to help humanity adapt to climate change by providing quality location-specific data. The goal is to lower overall risk and improve readiness for climate-related crises and emergencies.
ND-GAIN created a remarkable online interactive tool called the Urban Adaptation Assessment (UAA). The tool encompasses nuanced data from 270 major cities within the United States. It provides information about specific risks and vulnerabilities as well as resources that will likely be needed for the future. Much of the data is even neighborhood-specific, thus providing precise foci for adaptation measures. The scope of the UAA’s dataset is breathtaking. It offers business and government leaders an extraordinary aid for disaster preparation and climate change-related decision-making.
Some large corporations and governments look decades ahead in their planning by taking into account economic and environmental trends. They look for events that may pose threats and what to do about them. However, most small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) remain largely focused on the bottom line today, The daily struggle to stay in business can be challenging enough. Yet we know climate change is happening, and its effects are continuing to unfold, inexorably. So how can businesses use the UAA data to plan ahead? How can they adapt to inevitable and continual climate disruption in years to come?
What will be the effects of flooding, massive storms, heat waves, and other climate events? There will be supply chain disruptions and with them, food insecurity. How will these phenomena impact the stability of businesses? How will we care for ourselves, our families, and our employees in the tough times ahead?
Relocating to less-affected regions may be an option for some. But many businesses have longstanding relationships and ties in their communities. They are, in essence, “locally planted.” It isn’t practical to move to Norway or Finland or New Zealand or other relatively “safe” zones in the world. In the U.S., the ‘safest’ pockets are in the states of Colorado, Vermont, Maine and a few others.
Ultimately, the challenge boils down to basics. Humans need water, food, shelter, energy, and community on a continual basis. With tools like the UAA, forward-looking businesses can begin to plan and implement strategies. They can ensure these fundamental resources continue to be available right where they live.
Good business practices using these kinds of insights to handle hard times may aid in keeping communities thriving together. It will require implementing strategies with great consideration for the whole or we devolve into a dog-eat-dog world.