The final charge in the Statement of Task is to provide findings and recommendations on common approaches and “key issues for future programs to consider in measuring the resilience of a community” (see Box 1-2). The committee interpreted this charge as referring to future programs that the Gulf Research Program (GRP) would administer. This chapter makes specific recommendations for the GRP to design efforts around community resilience using a framework that measures and tracks progress in achieving community resilience goals (see Box 5-1).
The GRP has the mandate to effect change in the Gulf region backed by a $500 million endowment, on a 25-year timeline. The GRP possesses autonomy over how it exercises its mandate. The Gulf region provides the GRP a fertile landscape for building and measuring community resilience. The mix of assets related to economy, ecology, and a rich, diverse, and vibrant culture in the Gulf contrasted by intransigent disparities presents a portfolio of complex and often interconnected research questions that have remained unaddressed since the BP oil spill in 2010. The urgency for action is underscored by the persistent challenges faced by Gulf Coast communities: poor health indicators; structural social inequity; an extractive economy; perils related to hurricanes and inland and coastal flooding; continued shoreline losses; and impacts of a changing climate. Four recommended actions for the GRP are outlined in the sections below.
Recommendation 5. The Gulf Research Program should develop a major, coordinated initiative around building or enhancing community resilience in communities across the Gulf region.
The lessons and common elements of the major resilience measurement programs reviewed in this report (Chapter 2) combined with the information gleaned from the community site visits and other programs (Chapter 3) suggest that there are benefits in community-level processes, including both existing practices and new ways of thinking about risk, resilience, and community priorities. These benefits include diverse stakeholder engagement; goals and the use of measures to gauge progress in achieving those goals; and resilience benefits across multiple community dimensions from incentivized actions (see Chapter 4).
The GRP has the structure, resources, and time to design, implement, and monitor a community resilience initiative to realize such benefits. It can include explicit resilience measures that track progress toward short-term and long-term milestones to address the urgency to build sustained resilience in the Gulf region. The GRP resilience initiative should include multiple communities across the Gulf region’s five states and take a nested approach to (see Figure 5-1):
- Document the intracommunity resilience strategies and measurements within each of the selected GRP communities;
- Foster interactions across and among the selected GRP communities across the region through a resilience learning collaborative; and
- Implement longitudinal research that includes systematic analysis of data of various sources, including health metrics.
The GRP has the budget to undertake a community resilience initiative in the Gulf region. The exact budget for a community resilience initiative in the Gulf would depend on the number of communities involved and the scope of the initiative. The Rockefeller Foundation started in 2013 with an initial scoping budget of $100 million for 100 Resilient Cities, with the budget ultimately increasing to more than $164 million.1 The Z Zurich Foundation’s Flood Resilience Measurement Framework operated on a budget of $37 million over a 5-year timespan (Szönyi, 2017) and supported flood resilience measurement in over 110 communities, most in developing countries and many of those smaller villages. Therefore, based on other large multicommunity programs, the GRP’s community resilience program in the Gulf Coast region should have an annual multimillion dollar budget over a minimum of 10 years.
1 Otis Rolley of 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) shared this information with the committee during the community meeting with Rockefeller Foundation, 100RC, and Rebuild by Design in the New York City meeting in 2017.
In addition, the committee recognizes that there continues to be a strong need for human health research in the Gulf region. Billions of dollars have been dedicated to research, cleanup, recovery, and restoration in the Gulf region following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. However, despite initial human health research conducted in the aftermath of the disaster, there has been insufficient focus on human health research in the Gulf. Though this report has focused on building and measuring overall community resilience, the committee urges the GRP to develop an area of study centered on longitudinal human health research in the Gulf region.
Recommendation 6. For each community in the Gulf Research Program community resilience initiative, the GRP should develop and employ a community resilience framework that includes: (1) community engagement to engender buy-in around resilience priorities, goals, and leadership; (2) resilience across multiple community capitals; (3) measures and ways to track progress that are useful to decision makers; and (4) investments in resilience that result in multiple benefits.
Four key elements of building—and thus measuring—community resilience emerge (Chapter 4) from existing resilience programs and research (Chapter 2) and lessons learned from the community site visits (Chapter 3). For the purposes of the GRP, there are specific actions related to these four elements in order for a framework and community resilience initiative to take shape, for measurement approaches to be implemented and used, and to document the degree to which community resilience is being built. There is not a one-size-fits-all-approach to resilience practice or measurement (Finding 3.2). Therefore, the GRP community resilience initiative needs to account for community-level differences, and the GRP will need to consider how to contend with the likelihood that each community within its community resilience initiative may take different approaches, identify different priorities, and require different types of resources.
Community engagement and buy-in are critical to community resilience (Finding 3.4). The GRP should use well-established and culturally sensitive community engagement practices to involve diverse perspectives and stakeholders from the public, private, nongovernmental, academic, and other sectors of a given location. In the Gulf region, and considering the mandate of the GRP, the participation of business and industry stakeholders together with a focus on the inclusion of diverse cultures and communities is a prerequisite to success. Through participatory methods such as facilitated discussions, focus groups, and key informant interviews, the GRP could elicit and co-develop important priorities
and goals for resilience in each community. Essential outcomes of a community engagement approach would be the collective establishment of resilience goals or priorities and recruitment of a local leader(s) to champion the community resilience efforts. Collaborating with communities in these ways will require building trust and engaging factions of a community that may not normally work together. In addition, the GRP should continue its practice of embedding researchers in communities with local leaders, and it could expand its policy fellowship program to place fellows in communities engaged in resilience building and measurement efforts. Community engagement can take years and requires sustained commitment to each community. Community engagement and buy-in can help to ensure that the community’s resilience approach, investments, and priorities will reflect the wellbeing and interests of the whole community across multiple community capitals, be sustained over time, and achieve additional benefits and outcomes beyond the direct program investments by the GRP.
Action: In each of the GRP communities, the GRP should engage diverse stakeholders to build community buy-in around community resilience goals or priorities and recruit local leaders and champions for resilience efforts.
Multiple Capitals or Dimensions of Community Resilience
Resilience is multidimensional (Finding 3.5), and at least six dimensions or capitals are relevant to community resilience. The natural, built/physical, social, financial, human, and political dimensions of a community are the six capitals most commonly identified in the community resilience literature (Chapter 2; Arup, 2015; NIST, 2016; Szoenyi et al., 2016; Zurich, n.d.). Traditional community engagement processes are easily adapted to ensure that multiple capitals are included in stakeholder discussions and interactive activities. The more diverse the stakeholders gathered and the greater the number of sectors involved, the more likely that multiple capitals will be considered in community resilience designs.
The multiple capital framework allows stand-alone efforts to connect with and feed data and information into an overarching community resilience framework. For example, the Coastal Zone Management Project in Mexico (see Box 4-5) shows how a single priority of protecting the coastal zone provided measurable benefits across economic, natural, and social capitals. While some communities plan across multiple sectors or collect data or information across different capitals, few measure resilience across different capitals (Finding 2.1). The GRP is poised to fill this gap and draw on the lessons learned thus far. It can be deliberate in designing and co-developing its resilience work to include all or as many capitals as possible as it collaborates with communities to measure and track their community resilience efforts.
Action: As the GRP collaborates with communities to build community resilience, it should explicitly include as many of the community capitals as possible to capture how communities conceive their resilience priorities,
approaches, investments, and assessments. The GRP should also provide resources to support local leadership in their resilience-building efforts, for example, by embedding researchers into local communities to work with decision makers and other community stakeholders.
Evidence-based Information Useful to Decision Makers
As the GRP builds a community resilience portfolio, the initiative should be explicit about how resilience measures will be or could be used by community decision makers, including those in government, industry, and nonprofit sectors as well as those who represent land grant universities and other institutions in the Gulf that can actively contribute to long-term research and analysis.
One way to do this is to involve decision makers and other community stakeholders in the development of community resilience goals and priorities and actions needed to achieve those goals. The stakeholders could identify resilience measures needed to track progress of those goals. As those measures are collected and documented, the GRP could help design and generate evidence-based approaches for relating resilience measures to goals, policies, and programs. Community decision makers can more easily pursue resilience investments when those investments align with existing budgets and community initiatives (Finding 3.7).
Action: The GRP should be deliberate in bringing researchers and decision makers together in the community resilience process. In doing so, the GRP can build the capacity of decision makers to incorporate data, information, and measurement in their policies, actions, and interventions. Simultaneously, the GRP can advance resilience measurement methods by which data collection, analysis, and application can be used in the complex contexts in which policy, programmatic, and budget decisions are made.
Investments that Yield Multiple Benefits
The Gulf region faces many risks: natural hazards or technological accidents, chronic conditions related to disparities and environmental degradation, and other risks that are the outcomes of slow onset events such as sea level rise, climate change, or shifts in the energy/oil and gas industries. There are tangible benefits to building resilience and financial tools that can support resilience (Finding 4.3). The GRP can derive viable community resilience strategies for the Gulf region from existing examples (e.g., see Box 4-5, Coastal Zone Management Trust). Private investment represents the largest class of investments that could support resilience building through impact investing tools like catastrophe, green, or resilience bonds (Colgan, Beck, and Narayan, 2017). The GRP’s financial portfolio positions the program to participate in innovative, matching, and other investment approaches.
The GRP should establish ways to track or measure benefits across multiple capitals in ways that account for gains over the short term for current decision
makers, as well as over the long term to examine changing and cascading or compounding impacts of investment choices. Decision makers struggle to determine where resilience investments should be targeted and what benefits they can expect from those investments (Finding 3.6). Valuation models show potential for long-term evaluation or measurement (Chapter 4), and nascent frameworks could provide the GRP a real-time laboratory to test ways to quantify resilience—its processes, outcomes, and effects (e.g., see Box 4-4, the Resilience Dividend Valuation Model).
Action: The GRP should guide short-term investments that will yield positive long-term benefits across multiple capitals.
Summary of the Community Resilience Initiative
The GRP has the time and the financial resources to invest in a community resilience program. Such a program could: (1) test and document how and to what degree community resilience can be built or enhanced; (2) explore ways to address gaps in practical and research efforts thus far; (3) develop new or test existing frameworks for measuring and tracking resilience in communities across multiple capitals and over time; and (4) demonstrate a return on investment, best practices, and recommendations for prioritizing resources to build community resilience.
In creating the framework for community resilience to build and measure resilience within communities, the GRP should do the following:
- Build a community resilience initiative through collaboration with multiple and varied communities across the Gulf region.
- Engage stakeholders in each community from different sectors, with different perspectives, roles and responsibilities, economic status, ethnicities, age, and other professional and demographic markers.
- Use the community engagement process to identify resilience goals and priorities for each community in the GRP initiative, allowing for local leaders and champions to emerge and for goals to be understood across multiple community capitals.
- Link resilience goals and priorities with actions that decision makers take and with milestones for achieving those goals.
- Foster investments that achieve community resilience goals while also providing benefits across multiple capitals.
Recommendation 7. The Gulf Research Program should create, finance, and maintain a resilience learning collaborative for diverse stakeholders to exchange information about lessons learned, approaches, challenges, and
successes in their respective and collective work to advance community resilience in the Gulf region. Community stakeholders shared an overarching perspective with the committee: Every community has a challenge, strategy, approach, or lesson to share and knows that there is more to learn. Communities experience common challenges associated with budget, capacity, or time. The communities that participated in this consensus study showed a great range of innovation, creativity, and grit in approaching their problems and designing resilience solutions. Their openness in meeting and sharing their experiences and insights with the committee underscored the need for a learning collaborative to exchange ideas and share solutions. The participants in a learning collaborative should include government (local, state, federal levels), industry, academia, and other organizations engaged in community resilience efforts in the states of the Gulf of Mexico.
Some of the resilience programs discussed in this report (e.g., 100 Resilient Cities, Resilient America Program, the Zurich Flood Resilience Program, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology Community Resilience Program) bring their cohorts together for collaborative learning. These gatherings are often closed to outside groups or are by invitation only. Another example of a learning collaborative, while not resilience-related, is the National Climate Assessment Sustained Assessment program.2 This program facilitated participation of scientists and stakeholders across regions and sectors and provided ongoing engagement among participating organizations. For communities not involved with these types of programs, opportunities are scarce to participate in a collaborative, open exchange of ideas and solutions. Therefore, among communities and decision makers, there is a lack of coordination, exchange, co-creation, and collaboration, even though the desire and need for this kind of forum are high.
A learning collaborative engenders cross-community learning and capacity building (Lasker and Weiss, 2003). The GRP is ideally positioned to create such a community resilience learning collaborative in the Gulf of Mexico region. With a learning collaborative at a regional scale, the GRP could create opportunities for learning and exchange, and solidly advance participatory research for the next generation of community resilience research and practice. Collaborative learning would allow the GRP to capitalize on interaction across and among the network of GRP resilient communities in the program, coordinate with other academic and nonprofit organizations active in community resilience, and test whether or how a regional approach to resilience in the Gulf could be realized from multiple, community-scale efforts. The GRP could play a convening role across at least two groups of vested stakeholders: the communities involved in the GRP community resilience initiative and other groups that also received funds from settlements from the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. A learning collaborative
2 Information about the National Climate Assessment Sustained Assessment Program is available at https://www.globalchange.gov/engage/process-products/sustained-assessment#PublicComment.
would also be a critical, seminal vehicle to advance the science, meaning, and utility of measuring resilience, as different parties and stakeholders engaged in resilience work together to ascertain the best ways to track progress.
Convening Participating GRP Community Resilience Initiative Communities
The first level of participation in the learning collaborative would include the communities that participate in the GRP community resilience initiative (see Recommendation 5). The GRP would convene the participating communities on a regular basis and allow for learning on multiple levels: communities will learn from each other and from external expertise brought by the GRP to the meetings, and the GRP will learn from the communities to amplify those findings to broader audiences. These regular convening events could also include other stakeholders that distribute resources, create policies, make investments, or have accountability for ensuring returns on those investments.
Action: The GRP should organize opportunities for information exchanges among the communities that participate in its community resilience initiative in order to facilitate collaborative learning, capacity building among stakeholders, and training and mentoring, including a focus on measures of resilience.
Convening Other Gulf Region Stakeholders
The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act)3 of 2012 dedicates 80 percent of all administrative and civil penalties related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund and outlines a structure for the use of funds to restore and protect the natural resources, ecosystems, and economy of the Gulf coast region. As stipulated in the RESTORE Act, each Gulf region state (Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas) received equal amounts to establish centers of excellence to conduct research within topical areas—topical areas that overlap with the GRP’s program initiatives. The centers of excellence and the GRP share a charge to spend settlement resources to research, study, or enhance ecosystem management; safe, healthy, and resilient communities; and offshore energy development. It is worth noting that none of these programs currently support human health research. Beyond the centers of excellence, there are number of other funding programs that were established from civil and criminal settlements of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.4 Some of these programs have already completed their program periods of performance (e.g., Gulf Region Health Outreach Program [Lichtveld, Covert, and
3 For more information about the RESTORE Act visit https://www.restorethegulf.gov/sites/default/files/RESTORE%20ACT%20July2012.pdf.
Sherman, 2017]; MOEX Supplemental Environmental Projects), while others have longer program timelines.
The GRP is in a particular position of strength to exercise the convening power of the National Academies in the Gulf region to bring these related funding programs together to inform, be informed by, or catalyze collaborative efforts around common, shared goals for the Gulf region. Action: The GRP should confer with other recipients of settlement funds from the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill and/or organizations active in community resilience about collaborative efforts on common program elements.
The GRP can advance the development of a resilience framework throughout the Gulf region. Through a Gulf region resilience learning collaborative, the GRP would support communities in the Gulf region that embark on long-term programs around the development and measurement of resilience. At a minimum, the GRP should:
- Serve as a focal point among Deepwater Horizon funding programs, states, and communities of the Gulf region on resilience matters. The GRP could offer program and collaborative activities to work with states and communities in carrying out their resilience programs, and the GRP could gain and share information regarding what activities are being successfully pursued by similar communities in the region. The GRP could also lead the collection of research by annually synthesizing the disparate investments, activities, projects, and programs aimed at advancing resilience in the Gulf region.
- Continue to support research activities that respond to the needs of the Gulf region related to the GRP mission.
- Publish research findings and lessons learned.
Recommendation 8. The Gulf Research Program should implement longitudinal research associated with its community resilience program.
Through longitudinal research, the GRP can bring together communities and research institutions across the Gulf region, as well as academic and governmental research facilities in the Gulf and beyond. A new approach to community resilience research should connect public participation with long-term assessments in communities over multiple years and multiple hazard events. While the communities would likely be located within the Gulf states, the types of research, (meta)analysis, and data integration could involve, in addition to local researchers already embedded in their Gulf state communities, experts and researchers from outside of the Gulf region.
Long-term, periodic, comprehensive resilience assessment remains an unmet need (NASEM, 2017b). Such assessment is hampered by the inability or untested
ability of most resilience measures to account for longitudinal or dynamic changes in community resilience. By aiming to fill this void, a GRP longitudinal research program related to community resilience could realize at least two benefits: 1) a targeted examination of the dynamic state of communities influenced by changes in risk and resilience over time; and 2) the advantage of the GRP position to develop a research portfolio that can link information and data from disparate programs with one another and to community resilience priorities (Finding 4.1). Ultimately, the longitudinal research program should integrate research, data, and information with decision making. As a result, the GRP could offer guidance on the long-term impacts of community resilience in the Gulf region in the three decades following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Long-term Community Resilience Assessments
Building community resilience occurs over timelines measured in years. A longitudinal research program on community resilience would provide benefits of other multidecadal studies, namely, to have the “power to transform understanding . . . in the face of uncertain future conditions” (NASEM, 2018). The Gulf region is affected by episodic natural disasters (hurricanes, coastal storms, inland flooding); technological accidents such as oil spills; and vexing public health threats, economic challenges, and institutional racism (Cosco et al., 2017; Cutter and Emrich, 2006; Cutter et al., 2006). Since 2005, the Gulf region has endured some of the country’s costliest hurricanes: Dennis, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma (2005); Gustav and Ike (2008); Irene (2011); Isaac (2012); Hermine and Matthew (2016); and Harvey and Irma (2017), in addition to other weather-related events, such as the Baton Rouge floods of 2016 or the Tax Day Flood in Texas (2016), and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill itself in 2010. Cross-sectional or short-term research cannot capture the sequential nature of the impacts that these events have had on resilience efforts, nor the consequences of limited research investments. Only longitudinal, observational, experimental, and monitoring programs can examine the drivers of change and cascading impacts on a community over time (NASEM, 2018). Long-term research with a periodicity of minimally 5 or more years would be useful in the Gulf. In addition, researchers need the ability to test resilience measurement tools over the long term to refine and validate them for usability and usefulness.
Most resilience measures—such as infrastructure specification performance or adherence to building codes—provide a snapshot in time focused on short-term operational decisions (e.g., investments). Even in places that have implemented resilience measures, few measures have been applied more than once, applied over timelines commensurate with capturing dynamic states of resilience development, or updated to improve their usability or usefulness (Chapter 2). Therefore, the GRP should take a leadership role and provide a platform for communities in the Gulf region to develop measurement approaches that address the current lack of temporal sensitivity to monitor changes over time.
Action: The GRP should identify, collect, and maintain data that can be used to effectively monitor the changes in regional and community resilience and assess why these changes are occurring.
Integrating and Synthesizing Data for Community Resilience, Measures, and Decision Making
In addition to extended timelines, community resilience measurement and research need to include various disciplines to account for data, information, and assessments of community resilience. Several disciplines are key. For example, epidemiologic cohort studies can examine the impact of acute and chronic stressors impacting vulnerable communities; ecological and social science studies can make important contributions in determining how communities perceive and act on risks; and research involving the built environment can identify how infrastructure planning influences community resilience over time. Linking various data sources, information, and scientific methods to resilience priorities requires participation of data science experts to advance collective knowledge about factors influencing community resilience, including slow-moving stressors such as climate change, housing shortages, the persistent burden of health disparities, or the legacy effects of community historical trauma. A longitudinal community resilience research program would strengthen methods to conduct integrated analyses and data synthesis across different types of data and information to generate new metrics of resilience. Thus, effective community resilience measurement and research require investments in longitudinal designs, as well as incentives for transdisciplinary teams to collaborate in longitudinal, cross-sectoral investigations.
To improve the usefulness of resilience research, it must be closely aligned with action, investment, policy, and other decision making. Especially useful would be linking relevant information—especially from disparate or unexpected sources—to existing community efforts, budgets, and priorities (Finding 4.1). An integrated approach that engages various decision makers, researchers, and organizations could help facilitate broader community engagement, information exchange, and local application of resilience measures.
Comprehensive community resilience measurement needs longitudinal, transdisciplinary studies to account for periods before, during, after, and between shock events. Resilience investments target a range of dynamic stressors and short- and long-term gains, and those gains can be tracked along or across multiple sectors (Finding 4.2); long-term gains can only be assessed over commensurate times. A longitudinal approach is a promising way to build the infrastructure and the rigorous methodology to conduct such long-term assessments. Given the long timelines, the GRP should include new and innovative technologies in its longitudinal community resilience research program such as applications of artificial intelligence, crowd sourcing, and meta-analysis.
Action: The GRP should proceed with investing, developing, and designing a longitudinal research program to collect, analyze, and integrate data from different sources that have relevance to community capitals, investments, priorities, and measures. Such integrated analysis should be relevant to existing budgets, policies, priorities, and investments.
The need to build resilience across the Gulf region has never been more acute. Compared to other Gulf Coast organizations engaged in the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the GRP is in a unique position to substantially advance community resilience. The GRP should consider taking four main actions to foster resilience and the science of resilience measurement to fulfill its mandate in accordance with the $500 million endowment from the Deepwater Horizon criminal settlements.
- The GRP should develop a major initiative around building or enhancing community resilience in several communities across the Gulf region.
- For each community in the GRP community resilience initiative, the GRP should employ a community resilience framework that includes: (1) community engagement, (2) resilience across multiple community capitals, (3) measures and ways to track progress that are useful to decision makers, and (4) investments in resilience that result in multiple benefits.
- The GRP should create a resilience learning collaborative for stakeholders to exchange information, approaches, challenges, and successes in their respective and collective work to advance community resilience in the Gulf region. The collaborative participants should include government (local, state, federal levels), industry, academia, and other organizations engaged in addressing community resilience in the states of the Gulf of Mexico.
- The GRP should implement longitudinal research associated with its community resilience initiative that includes systematic collection, analysis, translation, and dissemination of data of various sources over time periods with periodicities of 5 or more years.
These recommended actions will help the GRP serve the Gulf region through outreach activities, opportunities for collaborative learning, applied research, and timely data collection to identify, capture, and analyze the successes, limitations, and failures of resilience activities in the Gulf region. By including researchers, decision makers, and community stakeholders, and undergirded by the scientific imprimatur that is the signature of the National Academies, the GRP can use its platform of resources and a quarter-century of time to effect an enduring, sustained legacy of resilience in the Gulf of Mexico and beyond.
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