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Climate Change in FEMA’s 2014-2018 Strategic Plan

FEMA_16321_-_Photograph_by_Win_Henderson_taken_on_09-16-2005_in_LouisianaIn case you missed it, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released it’s 2014-2018 Strategic Plan on July 15th. This comes on the heels of the release of the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) by FEMA’s parent department, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). According to the summary by FEMA, the plan “reflects objectives the Agency will accomplish to provide the best possible support to the American people before, during, and after disasters.” In addition to a strong focus on risk management and preparedness, the strategic plan includes explicit mention of the risks related to climate change and the need to better integrate those risks into the Agency’s plans.

The summary notes:

The FEMA Strategic Plan supports the Department of Homeland Security’s 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review Mission 5 (Strengthen national preparedness and resilience) and is built on five strategic priorities and two strategic imperatives outlined in the Fiscal Year 2015-2019 Administrator’s Intent:

FEMA’s Five Strategic Priorities:

  • Priority 1: Be survivor-centric in mission and program delivery
  • Priority 2: Become an expeditionary organization
  • Priority 3: Posture and build capability for catastrophic disasters
  • Priority 4: Enable disaster risk reduction nationally
  • Priority 5: Strengthen FEMA’s organizational foundation

While better integrating climate-related risks into preparedness is related in some fashion to all of the strategic priorities, explicit mention of climatic risks is listed under Priority 4: “Enable disaster risk reduction nationally” in the strategic plan. Of special note is the mention of climate change under “Objective 4 .1: Provide credible and actionable data and tools to support risk-informed decision-making,” where the plan states:

FEMA will also ensure that future risks, including those influenced by climate change, are effectively integrated into the Agency’s risk assessment resources and processes.

It continues:

Existing national risk assessment frameworks and resources (e.g., U.S. National Climate Assessment, DHS Strategic National Risk Assessment, Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment [THIRA], and all-hazard assessments) provide risk “snapshots” to support goal-setting and risk-based action. However, the Nation needs a baseline risk assessment to assess and track progress in reducing overall risk exposure. By leading the development of a baseline model and performance indicators, FEMA and its partners will enable emergency managers and communities to better quantify risk and measure the impact of risk management strategies.

As this Strategic Plan flows from the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR), here is a summary of how climate change figured into that review as “a strategically significant risk.”

1 Comment

  1. Vlad Fomin says:

    Very seriously and is very promising. I was happy to read the last sentence of the material QHSR (Acknowledging this risk is an important step in both preventing and preparing for disruptive climatic changes.). But – if properly understood the meaning of the word “preventing …” – as “the elimination of the risk of destructive climate change.” Thank you.

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