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Building Organizational Resilience to Climate Change

Stacy Williams and Rawlings Miller | December 15, 2023

Mitigate potential operational risks by following four key steps

The Challenge: Climate Impacts Go Beyond Physical Asset Damage to Business Continuity Disruptions

In an era marked by the escalating challenges of climate change, organizational resilience is increasingly important for sustained success and adaptability. Organizational resilience encompasses the integration of adaptive strategies, risk management and mitigation measures within an organization’s structure and operations to facilitate long-term sustainability. While contemporary climate resilience initiatives frequently concentrate on the impacts to physical facilities, assessing organizational resilience is crucial for identifying vulnerabilities and potential disruptions within the supply chains, infrastructure and procedures of overall operations.

The Solution: Follow a Defined Framework to Evaluate and Build Organizational Resilience

Broadening the scope of assessments to include the evaluation of organizational resilience enables the implementation of proactive mitigation strategies. This protects the continuity of a company’s services and bolsters its ability to thrive amid a changing climate.

Organizational resilience is assessed using a multi-step framework designed to construct effective strategies to mitigate potential climate-related risks associated with operations.

Setup for Success

The first step of the framework involves establishing a strong foundation for evaluating organizational resilience. This phase underscores the importance of engaged leadership or empowered champions and emphasizes the need for a streamlined decision-making process. At this stage, the focus is on broadly determining anticipated, expected and desired outcomes to set the groundwork for subsequent resilience efforts. This step may also involve strategic planning for proactively addressing engagement challenges to ensure an inclusive approach. A key component of this step is the development of strong communication materials which clearly articulate the purpose of the evaluation and the benefits that those who actively participate can expect in return.

Review Plans, Policies and Procedures

In the second step of the framework, the focus shifts to a comprehensive review of plans, policies, procedures and day-to-day activities. This includes a thorough examination of business continuity plans, standard operating procedures, mitigation plans, risk registers, travel, IT and telecommuting policies, staffing roles and responsibilities, and work locations to gain a clear understanding of existing organizational structures. Assessing critical functions, populations served, partners and funding sources are also crucial components of this step to determine the organization’s core operations and relationships.

Climate Risk Assessment

The identification and assessment of climate-related risks considers vulnerability, degree of impact and the criticality of the service disrupted. This analysis provides valuable insights into the specific challenges faced by an organization. It typically identifies where an organization has already begun to implement strategies that are also best practices in climate resilience; opportunities to expand, extend or accelerate climate resilience; and gaps where new strategies or policy updates may be needed to address climate risks.

Outcome: A Customized Resilience Roadmap

The framework culminates in the development of a Resilience Roadmap that outlines concrete strategies for mitigating each identified climate risk to support the maintenance of infrastructure and the continuity of operations. Each strategy within the roadmap delineates key elements of implementation and is cataloged into a comprehensive progress tracker. This dynamic tool empowers organizations to not only navigate climate-related risks effectively but to proactively foster resilience through strategic planning and implementation.

TRC’s climate resilience team are experts in building climate resiliency to ensure our clients are prepared to face the increasing challenges and risks associated with climate change.

Stacy Williams

Stacy Williams is an Associate Director of Climate Risk and Resilience in TRC’s ESG and Climate Advisory practice. Based out of Boston, MA, Stacy has spent more than 17 years leading strategic planning, development, and implementation of climate change programs. She combines extensive management experience with an M.S. in Environmental Engineering to produce scientifically based, actionable climate solutions. Stacy can be reached at 781-701-5466 or

Rawlings Miller

Rawlings Miller is the Director of Climate Risk and Resilience in TRC’s ESG and Climate Advisory practice. A climate scientist based out of Boston, MA, Rawlings has been working in climate change research and policy since 1995. She has led a range of climate vulnerability and risk assessments including significant experience with the built environment, leading or supporting sector-based studies and adaptation planning for transportation, energy, telecommunication, emergency management, and others. Rawlings can be reached at 978-626-4320 or

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