February 27, 2014 – San Diego, CA – The San Diego Center for Civic Engagement at The San Diego Foundation granted $75,000 to ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) to collaborate with the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services (OES) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) to update the region’s Hazard Mitigation Plan.

While climate change continues to polarize political debates across the U.S., the disaster planning and response community is increasingly coming together to best manage costly weather events.

National extreme weather impacts such as sea levels rise, prolonged droughts, polar vortexes and hurricanes are more extreme than ever. Last year, Hurricane Sandy and a devastating drought that affected over 70 percent of the country, cost every person in America more than $300—or more than $100 billion altogether according to a report by CERES – Inaction on Climate Change: The Cost to Taxpayer.

County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who also is a member of the California Air Resources Board, said public safety must be a top priority in addressing climate change impacts. “This collaboration of ICLEI with climate scientists, funded by The San Diego Foundation, will ensure we protect our residents while mitigating future costs to our region,” Roberts said. Shaun Donovan, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported, “for every $1 we spent today on hazard mitigation saves us at least $4 in avoided costs if a disaster strikes again, saving billions in taxpayer dollars.” Therefore by updating the San Diego County Mitigation Plan and investing today in implementation, we could potentially cut future severe weather response costs by 75%.

“We live in an area of the world known for its ideal climate that has become a world-renowned climate research mecca. By working with climate scientists, planners on the ground along with philanthropy, we have created a national model for dealing with the challenge of climate change preparedness,” said Dr. Emily Young, vice president of the Environment Program at The San Diego Foundation.

Starting in January 2014, ICLEI will work with OES, the Unified Disaster Council, several fire and water districts, as well as the region’s 18 local governments and the County to assess how best to incorporate scientific-based climate change projections into existing hazard plans (e.g. increasingly intense and frequent wildfires, droughts, coastal flooding and extreme heat events).

The funding will provide the resources to survey the Unified Disaster Council and emergency managers to determine planning needs, work with scientists at SIO to determine the County’s local climate science needs, and develop guidance for city hazard mitigation strategies through expert workshops. The regional plan must be approved by FEMA every five years and is scheduled for review in 2015.

“With this grant from The Foundation, we are excited to work with the County’s Office of Emergency Services and scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to incorporate projections of regional climate change into the County’s Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan,” proclaimed Brian Holland, ICLEI national climate programs director. “Thanks to the County’s leadership, this plan will be one of the few plans in the country that are forward looking,” he continued.

The San Diego Center for Civic Engagement’s Climate Initiative supports efforts to raise community awareness about the projected impacts of climate change in the San Diego region and catalyze comprehensive local action to address them. This grant was made possible through a two-year grant from the Kresge Foundation to The Center, to underwrite some initial work to help our region prepare for change.

In addition to partnerships with government and nonprofits, businesses such as QUALCOMM, Bank of America and Kaiser Permanente have provided critical funding to augment The Foundation’s collaborative efforts. The region’s innovation has also attracted investments from national funders such as the Kresge Foundation and the National Science Foundation, in anticipation that what happens in San Diego will serve as powerful examples for other areas of the country.

About The San Diego Foundation’s Climate Initiative
The San Diego Foundation’s Climate Initiative supports efforts to deepen community awareness about the local impacts of climate change and spur regional action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2006, The San Diego Foundation has taken a unique and determined leadership role in preparing the San Diego region for the impacts of climate change. To date, The San Diego Foundation has invested more than $2 million in research, public education, technical assistance, and collaborative projects that can help governments and communities plan for a changing climate. Over the next few years, The San Diego Foundation will continue to work with the region’s 18 local governments, County, nonprofits, businesses, and consumers to engage donors in advancing regional efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for climate change, in order to avoid some of its most harmful effects.

About The San Diego Foundation
Founded in 1975, The San Diego Foundation’s purpose is to promote and increase effective and responsible charitable giving. The Foundation manages more than $641 million in assets, almost half of which are in permanent endowment funds that extend the impact of today’s gifts to future generations. Since its inception, The Foundation has granted more than $852 million to the San Diego region’s nonprofit community. For additional information, please visit The San Diego Foundation at sdfoundation.org.

About the Malin Burnham San Diego Center for Civic Engagement
The Center for Civic Engagement ensures broad, dynamic community participation and ownership of shared solutions by incubating ideas, leading social change and championing Our Greater San Diego Vision to improve the quality of life for the San Diego region. The Center for Civic Engagement will oversee a series of initiatives that help drive the implementation of Our Greater San Diego Vision, which resulted from the collective input of 30,000 San Diegans. Through innovative approaches to community participation and targeted grantmaking, we will elevate traditional public involvement to develop solutions to community issues and better align donor support with the needs of the region. For additional information, please visit sdfoundation.org/cce.

ICLEI USA’s mission is to build, serve and drive a movement of local governments to advance deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and achieve tangible improvements in local sustainability. As the only global organization helping cities and counties of all sizes achieve sustainability and climate planning goals, ICLEI provides tools and resources, delivers innovative programming, and fosters a robust network of local governments across the U.S. who are committed to sharing solutions and scaling local sustainability efforts.

Vince Heald, Beck Ellman Heald, 858-453-9600, vheald@behmedia.com
Heather Back, The San Diego Foundation, 619-235-2300, heather@sdfoundation.org