Adapting the community sector for climate extremes: Extreme weather, climate change & the community sector – Risks and adaptations
Authors: Karl Mallon, Emily Hamilton, Manu Black, Betsi Beem and Julius Abs
Community Service Organisations (CSOs) are highly vulnerable and not well prepared to respond to climate change or extreme weather events. As part of this study, a national survey on the vulnerability of CSOs and their clients demonstrated that one week after an extreme weather event while 50% of organisations that sustain serious damage to their premises would still be out of operation; 25% might never provide services again. Threats to the operations of CSOs are very serious as they impact the basic needs for human survival: homelessness, deprivation, hunger, isolation and death. Yet, a literature review clearly shows that to date the community sector has been overlooked in the climate change adaptation policy settings and research agendas of developed economies. CSOs have a stated desire to prepare for and adapt to climate change and extreme weather impacts and if well prepared, they have inherent skills, assets and capabilities to contribute to community resilience and disaster response, including: the ability to educate, contact, locate and evacuate vulnerable people with specialist needs; specialist skills such as counselling, case management and volunteer management; and specialist assets and facilities such as disability transport. At present, CSOs perceive an overwhelming range of barriers to action, primarily a lack of financial resources and skills and the concern that adaptation is beyond the scope of the sectors core business. This project produced a series of outputs and resources, which are immediately available for implementation by CSOs to assist with the process of identifying, analysing and responding to climate change and extreme weather risks. This includes i) a set of CSO Failure Mode and Adaptation Mode Exemplars, which identify and codify the mechanisms by which service delivery is disrupted in response to infrastructure failure and ii) Community Sector Risk and Adaptation Registers, which describe and catalogue over 200 discrete risks and 450 adaptation actions specific to four key areas of CSO activity and operation.