Governor Phil Scott and Treasurer Mike Pieciak announced on January 3, 2024, a joint effort to develop a comprehensive Resilience Implementation Strategy by July 1, 2025. The initiative will coincide with an update to Vermont’s Climate Action Plan, enabling a coordinated and balanced approach to addressing both the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate efforts to adapt to the consequences of climate change.
The Resilience Implementation Strategy will include:
- Community-Centric Approach: The Strategy will place communities at the forefront. Recognizing that local perspectives and needs are integral to effective climate resilience, the Strategy will promote community engagement that is in line with Vermont’s Environmental Justice law and empower residents to actively participate in shaping their region's resilience strategies.
- Nature-Based Solutions: Governor Scott and Treasurer Pieciak are committed to protecting Vermont's rich natural resources. The Strategy will prioritize projects to safeguard ecosystems, promote biodiversity, and mitigate the impact of extreme weather events on agriculture, forestry, and water resources. These solutions also serve to buffer the state’s infrastructure and built environment from the most intense impacts of climate change.
- Infrastructure Design and Reinforcement: Vermont has a considerable amount of infrastructure – from roads and bridges to wastewater treatment facilities to power lines and communications services – that is vulnerable to climate impacts. Recognizing this vulnerability, the Strategy will identify how to “harden” Vermont's critical assets to better withstand extreme weather events.
- Early Warning Systems and Fast, Effective Response: Early warning mechanisms and fast, effective response are critical to ensuring Vermonter’s safety. The Strategy will build out early warning mechanisms and identify policies needed to support fast, effective response. These tools will enable Vermont to anticipate and respond swiftly to climate-related threats, reducing the impact on communities and infrastructure.
- Economic and Environmental Sustainability: Climate change has an impact on Vermont’s economy. Acknowledging the interconnectedness of climate resilience and economic stability, the Strategy will also include initiatives to support businesses and working lands enterprises in adapting to changing climate conditions.
Since Tropical Storm Irene, in 2011, state agencies, municipalities, and partner organizations have implemented a range of policies and programs that make Vermont more resilient in the face of our changing climate. Faced with the increasing frequency and severity of climate-related events, Governor Scott and Treasurer Pieciak emphasized that integrating this work into a comprehensive strategy is the right next step that will guide and prioritize resilience efforts, as well as help policymakers understand and address gaps, in order to make our communities stronger.
The Strategy will build off the considerable work done to date – including development of watershed and river corridor plans, the recent completion of an updated State Hazard Mitigation Plan, reports from the Vermont Drought Task Force, priorities identified by Vermont Conservation Design, and projects supported by the Flood Resilient Communities Fund, the Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund (ERAF), and Clean Water Enhancement Grants – to identify and prioritize needs and evaluate the sufficiency of currently available funding. The Strategy will incorporate extensive stakeholder engagement and will also recommend criteria for allocating state support for resilience projects and approaches for funding implementation efforts on an on-going basis.