At the Nexus of Climate Resilience and Military Readiness,
EDDs are the Regional Voice.

In July 2023, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) hosted its’ first ever Climate Resilience Workshop  in St. Louis, Missouri. Convening military installation commanders, base planning and engineering staff, state and local officials, federal grantmaking agencies, environmental and economic resilience research and advocacy groups, and regional development organizations, this conference was unique in showcasing a distinct niche of planning work: military installation resilience. In centering military operational readiness within wider community issues like climate resilience, hazard mitigation, transportation planning and economic development, the DoD Readiness and Environmental Protection and Integration program (REPI) and the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation program (OLDCC) are taking realistic and proactive region-led approaches to military installation planning.  

Andrew Coker, NADO Research Foundation Regional Development Researcher, attended the workshop and met with leadership from several EDDs in attendance.  

Regional collaboration and building planning partnerships were at the forefront of the workshop. With sessions such as Partnering to Develop Resilient Infrastructure, which promoted the value of installation-community partnerships on utility infrastructure projects, to sessions like Regional Installation Resilience Approaches, where regional organizations presented on their efforts to support installation’s response to climate change, the workshop’s message was clear: no community or installation can work alone, and the regional model is ideal as region’s and installation’s work to address climate resilience.   

Military installations are, often times, one of the biggest economic drivers for their surrounding communities. Further supporting these installations and their operational readiness and mission sustainability, is a vital piece of regional economic development work. As in many areas of EDD work, different EDDs take different approaches to work in their communities. Some EDDs have long-established collaborative planning and administration relationships with their local installations, while others have struggled to make in-roads with their local installations.  

NADO Research Foundation is beginning to explore the military planning space and provide resources, guidance, and trainings to EDDs on how to best manage and grow relationships with their local military installations.  

EDDs were well represented at the inaugural DoD Climate Resilience Workshop by (left to right) Diane Rath, Executive Director at Alamo Area Council of Governments, Jim Livingston, Executive Director at River Valley Council of Governments in western Georgia, and Christina Miskis, Principal Planner at South Florida Regional Planning Council.

Below are a few takeaways from the workshop for EDDs interested in building or strengthening partnerships with military installations in their regions:  

1. The regional model is ideal for addressing the large-scale issues facing communities with military installations. Regional labor shed analyses, environmental and compatible use studies, and traffic and commute pattern mapping show that installations impact several cities and counties across a given region. EDDs best fit into this space as a unifying and consensus-building voice of their member cities and counties. If your region has a military installation and you don’t have an existing relationship with base command or leadership, reach out and build this planning and synergistic relationship.  

A great resource for civilians interacting with the military is the Best Practices and Guidance for Engaging with Military Installations for Climate Resilience in Defense Communities, produced by the  University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, in partnership with the Southeast Regional Partnership for Planning and Sustainability and the REPI program.  

2. Military installations undergo substantial planning processes including Joint Land Use Studies (JLUS), Compatible Use Studies, and Military Installation Resilience Reviews (MIRR) in partnership with OLDCC. If they don’t already, EDDs are encouraged to reach out to your local military installation to see how the EDD can support these planning efforts.  

Several EDDs and MPOs around the country complete both military plans and regional CEDS, hazard mitigation, and transportation plans for their communities. Having all of these planning processes under one roof creates planning synergy opportunities through data sharing, joint public engagement opportunities, and allows for greater plan integration between member communities. Aligning and integrating these military planning processes with your other regional plans is key to ensuring efficient and implementable projects down the road.  

3. Climate resilience and hazard mitigation planning are improved by the regional model. Geographic and jurisdictional boundaries at the city or county level can lead to plan siloing and fragmented, incomplete solutions to the identified issues. Regionalization of planning processes allows for modeling, data collection and analysis, and scenario planning that all use the same standardized set of data. This standardization allows regions to then prioritize solutions and compare how communities are impacted by certain hazards or risks in an apples-to-apples way. EDDs are the ideal organization to regionalize and standardize these complex, multi-jurisdictional planning processes.  

4. Hazard mitigation and climate resilience planning must be done on the systems level to be effective. The Infrastructure Planning and Resilience Framework (IRPF) developed by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is a great resource for taking planning efforts to the regional and systemic level. The IRPF is meant for communities to analyze existing dependencies and risks within their infrastructure systems. Green River Area Development District (GRADD) in Kentucky recently used this model to conduct their CEDS and regional hazard mitigation planning processes with great success. This planning framework is easily transferable to the military installation planning realm. To learn more from GRADD staff, check out this tip sheet featuring Colie Smith, Regional Resiliency Coordinator at GRADD.  

5. Climate resilience is a great opportunity for regions to address equity and environmental justice issues affecting their communities. Underserved communities have often been subjected to dangerous environmental conditions in past planning and can be the first impacted by changing climatic effects. The New Growth Innovation Network’s recent publication, the Elevating Equity in Economic Development: An Inclusive Recovery Toolkit shows how EDDs can build trust and deliver results for underserved communities in their regions.  

6. Climate resilience is not just a Gulf Coast or western states’ drought issue. Whether it is dangerous wet bulb temperature spikes sustaining over several days or weeks in Southeast and Midwest regions or volatile storm patterns that are increasing flood risks in the Northeast, every region in the U.S. is now being impacted in some way by climate change. Identifying and understanding how your region is impacted are the first steps to mitigating potential hazards.  

As the NADO Research Foundation staff further explores this issue area, please reach out to Andrew Coker ([email protected]) with any guidance, comments, or suggestions for how staff can best support EDDs in this military planning space.

The EDD CoP is funded through an award from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce (ED22HDQ3070106). The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations above are those of the participants, trainers, and authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.


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Joe McKinney serves as Executive Director of the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO). Headquartered in Washington DC, NADO provides advocacy, education, research, and training for the nation’s 500+ regional planning and development organizations.

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