Climate Adaptation and Resiliency
The challenge of confronting the impacts of climate change is often framed in terms of two potential paths societies might take: adaptation and mitigation.
Mitigation involves reducing the magnitude of climate change itself and can be subdivided into two alternative strategies: emissions reductions — dealing with the problem at its very source, and geoengineering — somehow offsetting the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. The County of Santa Clara is aggressive in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its own operates, and also implements multiple programs that generate a series of local co-benefits, including greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
Adaptation, by contrast, involves efforts to limit our vulnerability to climate change impacts through various measures, while not necessarily dealing with the underlying cause of those impacts. This is not solely restricted to long-term planning and, in fact, a number of “no regrets” adaptation strategies can be multi-tasked for a number of present-day benefits. Success in adaptation planning and implementation relies on the ability of a system to adjust to climate change (including climate variability and extremes) to moderate potential damage, to take advantage of opportunities, or to cope with the consequences.
Silicon Valley 2.0 was built as a risk management approach that would first identify the region’s key climate vulnerabilities, the exposure of our natural, built, and human assets to those impacts, the likelihood of occurrence, and a cost/benefit analysis of taking specific actions to maintain the region’s potential, competitiveness, desirability, operational capacity, and human health – in other words to build resiliency to climate change.
The Silicon Valley 2.0 Project was developed by the County of Santa Clara Office of Sustainability, in collaboration with others, to respond to a gap in regional climate adaptation planning. Our region needed an implementation playbook rather than, simply, a plan. Therefore, project authors focused on the question of: what tool would best serve decision-makers and those who influence and consult them where significant commitments and long-term strategies are needed?
The result -- Silicon Valley 2.0 assumed a risk management approach to:
- identify the region's future climate vulnerabilities
- catalogue regional built and natural infrastructures (assets)
- map climate impacts and sensitivities
- develop a comprehensive gaps analysis that would leverage existing or parallel efforts, and expose those strategies and measures that would respond to voids in climate preparedness
- create a decision-support tool that would map assets within impact zones, measure their sensitivity, and calculate the value of the risk of loss of those assets
On this last point, the project became an opportunity to measure the cost of inaction and the value of success.
Working with the AECOM consultancy team, the County completed both a Decision-Support Tool and Climate Adaptation Strategic Guide. To do so, the Project Team worked with a Technical Advisory Committee comprised of infrastructure agencies, special districts, municipalities, regional non-profits, health department officials, federal agencies and academia. Throughout the Fall/Winter of 2014, the Project Team worked closely with sector-specific working groups to refine the gaps analysis and finalize a menu of key strategies and measures to ensure the region's resilience and climate preparedness. Thank you to everyone involved in Silicon Valley 2.0.
Download the Silicon Valley 2.0 information sheet [PDF]
For detailed information on the project timeline, download the Project Schedule [PDF]
Technical Advisory Committee and Working Groups [PDF]
In early 2018, in recognition of its efforts, the County and Silicon Valley 2.0 Project were awarded a National Association of Counties (NACo) 2018 Achievement Award in the category of "County Resiliency: Infrastructure, Energy and Sustainability."
For more information, contact Natalie De Leon or call 408-993-4760.