Resilient Virginia was established in 2014 with the mission of accelerating resiliency planning in communities across Virginia. The organization has an extensive history of working in the state since 1995, as the Virginia Sustainable Building Network.
Resilience is the ability to identify risk while building the capacity to maintain or rapidly regain functionality and vitality in the face of chronic stressors or severe disturbances.
Communities that seek to strengthen their capacity to address physical and socio-economic challenges need to address four major components of resiliency that focus on 1) Infrastructure and Buildings; 2) Community Actions; 3) Economic Activities; and 4) Ecosystem Services.
Depending on a community’s location — coastal, urban, or rural — they will identify particular priority risks and solutions when developing a roadmap to resilience. Cities in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia, for example, have identified infrastructure adaptation, land use planning, and social equity as critical components, while rural communities view systemic economic challenges and ecosystem preservation as ongoing challenges.
Our Vision: Virginia communities adapt to climate, environmental, social and economic challenges to become more resilient, healthy, and safe places to live, work, and prosper.
Our Mission: To accelerate resiliency planning in communities across the Commonwealth.
Our Goals: To inform diverse community representatives around the Commonwealth about natural, climate-related, and man-made challenges; to educate key groups about models for community resiliency planning; and to activate these communities to engage in resiliency plan development.
To inform, educate, and activate critical constituencies, Resilient Virginia provides:
Resilient Virginia was formed to build on the successes of our founding organization, Virginia Sustainable Building Network (VSBN), which carried out educational activities in Virginia, centered around Green Building and Sustainable Development, from 1995 to 2013. In 2014, the VSBN staff and Board of Directors decided to leverage the extensive experience and statewide networks of that organization to reformulate a new entity that could facilitate a wider mission of accelerating resiliency planning. Resilient Virginia’s Board of Directors and staff together bring to the organization a 30 plus-year range of experience and expertise.
You can find out more information about our history and accomplishments in the “Who We Our’ section of the Resilient Virginia website.
In the United States, and globally, there are increasing numbers of risks to the normal functioning of communities. These challenges are more frequently taking the shape of climate-driven and natural disasters, such as tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, wildfires, heat waves, and earthquakes, as well as the recent global COVID pandemic. Human-induced stressors also abound, including acts of terrorism and war, economic crises, and social upheavals.
The 4th National Climate Assessment (NCA) Report (2018) stated:
Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities. The impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future—but the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur.
The report concludes:
While Americans are responding in ways that can bolster resilience and improve livelihoods, neither global efforts to mitigate the causes of climate change nor regional efforts to adapt to the impacts currently approach the scales needed to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades.
Virginia, as part of the Southeastern United States, faces environmental and climate challenges, as reported in the 4th National Climate Assessment, that include:
In addition, our communities deal with a variety of man-made stresses.
In August 2021, the 6th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report was published and brought heightened awareness that climate change impacts are already widespread and rapidly intensifying. Increasing numbers of nations are facing health, economic, and social risks, while businesses around the world face enormous financial risk. The Secretary-General of the United Nations called the report a “code red for humanity.” He cited the fact that we will not succeed in capping warming from GHG emissions to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the 2030s, unless immediate and intensive actions are taken by the world’s nations to mitigate emissions, while citing the need to move forward to create more inclusive and greener economies.
Additional reports from NASA, NOAA, and Berkeley Earth, released in January 2022, indicate that the past seven years (2015–2021) have been the hottest in recorded history, with increasing societal and infrastructure disasters across the U.S. and across the world. In 2021, the U.S. endured at least 20 weather disasters costing $1 billion or more, which included the full range of severe weather events, droughts, hurricanes, and tornadoes.
|Disaster Type||Number of Events||Total Cost||Percent of Total Cost|
The next conference is planned for 2023.
Find out more about Resilient Virginia’s accomplishments here.
Considering the input from these two planning sessions, as well as the results from our initiatives that we have instituted over the past seven years, Resilient Virginia will prioritize these areas for 2021–2026:
Objective — Continue to identify information outlets and add resources to the website and social media that bring federal, state, regional, and local printed and virtual materials to public and private stakeholders and the general public on the range of resiliency topics in the four areas of resiliency: economics, ecosystem services, community actions, and infrastructure and buildings.
Action Item #1 (Years 1–5): Expand the Resource Hub on the website through staff, interns, and volunteer initiatives.
Action Item #2 (Years 1–5): Continue the Quarterly Newsletter through staff, intern, guest writers, and volunteer initiatives.
Action Item #3 (Years 1–5): Continue the new Member Brief (started in February 2020) on a twice monthly schedule through staff, intern, and volunteer initiatives (contingent on adequate staffing capacity).
Action Item #4 (Years 1–5): Continue the social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media outlets through staff and volunteer initiatives.
Objective — Continue educational initiatives that highlight the need for resilience planning, provide the tools for developing and implementing resilience plans, and identify potential sources of funding for resilience planning.
Action Item #1 (Years 1–5): Plan and carry out statewide Resilient Virginia Conferences in Fiscal Years 2021, 2023, and 2025, respectively, with partners, funders, and a Planning Committee. The Conferences bring together participants from government, academic, community, and business sectors with the purpose of highlighting resiliency resources and planning tools; tracking local, state and national progress; bringing forward case studies from rural, urban and coastal areas; and emphasizing national and state policies needed to further climate adaptation initiatives.
Action Item #2 (Years 1–2): Continue to develop opportunities for joint presentations with partner organizations on priority resiliency topics.
Action Item #3 (Years 2–5): Develop and initiate a Resiliency Star Speakers series that highlights exceptional work in resiliency being carried out in the academic and consulting areas to advance state-of-the-art climate adaptation initiatives.
Action Item #4 (Years 2–5): Work with higher education institutions and workforce development programs to provide on-the-ground opportunities for climate-related education and experience and climate-related workforce development training that creates new resiliency-focused business opportunities.
Objective — Conduct resiliency workshops and bring technical assistance to rural and urban communities to facilitate resilience planning and implementation.
Action Item #1 (Years 1–2): Develop and manage two four-part Resiliency Academy workshop series in each year with the goal of bringing useful toolkits, funding sources, and topic experts to an audience of government, business, and community representatives. Staff and consultants will work on the delivery of these workshops, contingent on funding support. Review this approach after FY 2023 to assess whether this initiative should be extended through 2026.
Action Item #2 (Years 1–5): Provide direct resiliency technical assistance to jurisdictions and planning district commissions This activity will be executed by staff and a consulting team, contingent on funding support.
Objective — Support the forward movement of initiatives to meet the challenge of climate impact and other major risk factors, as well as health, social and economic issues, while fostering social equity as a basis of resiliency planning.
Action Item #1 (Year 2–3): Develop and implement the thematic approach embodied in the #Virginia Can’t Wait slogan so that our local, regional and state initiatives reflect this emphasis. Solicit partner organizations to join with us in promoting this theme with the joint goal of keeping the threat of natural and man-made challenges, and the availability of tools for tackling this threat, in front of our leaders and community members, regardless of state-level leadership.
Action Item #2 (Years 2–5: Develop and initiate a Central and Southwest Virginia Resiliency Collaborative, which will include local and regional government representatives, as well as stakeholders from community, academic, and business groups, with the goal of aggregating educational efforts, encouraging local resiliency actions, and ensuring equitable representation as local, regional and state policies are being developed related to climate resiliency.
In addition, a wide range of public and private sponsors have supported the Resilient Virginia Conferences and our Resiliency Academy series, which are also supported by income from registration fees. Membership support is also being expanded and serves to strengthen continued growth in adding educational resources that comprise our Resiliency Hub, along with our other forms of communication.
We are continually working to secure new supporters in the private sectors that represent the broader resiliency areas. These include health care organizations, engineering and consulting businesses, insurance and risk management companies, and disaster recovery businesses. Resilient Virginia also continues to work to secure federal funds, and private business and foundation funding for aspects of the program plan, such as educational workshops and direct technical consulting services.