TIP’s Triptychs series features three examples that, when brought together, illuminate a subject of interest to our clients, partners, and colleagues.
Sustainability is not only an environmental goal, but also an economic one. The linkages between the climate and the economy have been explicitly made in the National Climate Resilience Framework and in updates to the US Economic Development Administration’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Guidelines that made climate resilience a required component. Sustainable development seeks to ensure that current economic and social needs are met without jeopardizing the well-being and prosperity of future generations. It means building a fair and resilient economy that can cope with the challenges of climate change, resource scarcity, and social inequality. Below are three case studies that demonstrate how sustainability and economic development can successfully work in tandem while being responsive to the specific needs of diverse communities.
USDA Climate Hubs
Created in 2014, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Climate Hubs network provides region-specific information and technologies to help agricultural and natural resource managers thrive amid increased climate variability. The initiative is a collaborative effort between USDA agencies (including the Agricultural Research Service, Forest Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and Farm Service Agency) and partners across 10 regional locations. Climate Hubs executes its core mission by engaging in research, tool development, and outreach to assess risks, develop strategies, and educate stakeholders. Governed nationally by a multi-agency executive committee and led regionally by directors, the initiative serves as a vital resource, enabling climate-informed decision-making and providing access to the assistance needed to implement those decisions.
Detroit Climate Resilience Hub
The Detroit Climate Resilience Hub is a central access point for residents during climate-induced emergencies, such as power outages and heat waves. Established with funding from the Ford Foundation, the hub is located in a house on the east side of Detroit, Michigan, equipped with solar power, battery backup, and other essential systems. It serves as a place where community members can go for assistance, such as heating and cooling centers, internet access, transportation, and storage and distribution of food, water, and medical supplies. The hub also provides ongoing services focused on early childhood education, youth engagement, and wellness activities. This location is part of the larger Resilient Eastside Initiative, which plans to establish three more hubs strategically across the city. The effort is a collaboration between local groups, the City of Detroit, and Elevate, a nonprofit that focuses on equitable access to clean and sustainable resources for communities nationwide. By creating a network of resilience hubs, the initiative hopes to bolster community resilience and improve quality of life in historically disinvested areas of Detroit, as highlighted in this University of Michigan report.
Village Solution Foundation
The Village Solution Foundation (VSF) is a community development corporation that strengthens faith-based communities of color in Southern California by connecting residents to sustainability resources and homeownership support. VSF also provides technical assistance on 501(c)(3) filings and training programs to community leaders and nonprofit organizations looking to develop strategic initiatives that can get funded. It educates kids and families on energy and STEM, activates homeowners to access energy-saving resources and other homeownership programs, and empowers community leaders to create more livable options for families to increase the quality of life, work, and worship in Southern California. In addition, the organization is partnering on Pathway 2045, a clean energy initiative by Edison International to reduce the emissions that contribute to climate change. By tapping into faith-based resources and efforts, VSF helps their community pursue neighborhood revitalization and stabilization opportunities.