2020 Climate Change and Social Resilience Report
In 2019, the Climate and Health Program and the Oregon Community Health Workers Association held a series of listening sessions in Hood River, Medford, and Portland. In these sessions, we asked community health workers and leaders about their perspectives on social resilience and how climate change is affecting their communities. This report synthesizes the themes from these conversations and identifies actions and investments that governmental agencies can take to strengthen social relationships in communities and increase climate resilience.
Social Resilience, Community Connectedness, and Adaptive Capacity
While working with partners to develop the
2017 Oregon Climate and Health Resilience Plan, there were many discussions about the social factors that influence a community’s resilience. Several partners highlighted ‘social networks’ and ‘community connectedness’ as key contributors to a community’s capacity to prepare and respond to disaster, navigate change, and adapt to new normals.
This conversation expanded our thinking about resilience and led to a lot more questions...
- How do you measure a community’s social resilience?
- What are effective strategies for building social resilience?
- And what is the public health system’s role and capacity to build social resilience within the communities we serve?
It turns out we weren’t the only ones asking these kinds of questions. A growing body of research indicates that social resilience (such as a community’s level of social cohesion or social capital) are key protective factors, enabling a community to effectively prepare, respond and adapt to climate stressors (as well as non-climate stressors) in healthy and innovative ways.
When it comes to building resilience and adapting to climate change, there is no doubt that certain hard infrastructure improvements will need to be made (e.g. higher bridges, deeper wells, etc.), but what about the “soft” stuff? How do we invest in our social infrastructure? That’s what we set out to better understand through two research projects.
Below is a summary of our findings from two projects completed in 2018.