Earlier this year The Kresge Foundation published Rising to the Challenge, Together: A Review and Critical Assessment of the US Climate Adaptation Field.
It is incredibly valuable. It is a snapshot of the field of climate adaptation as a developing practice, and provides a description of what it must become to effect change.
It is so well-written and researched that anything other than sharing it directly would diminish it considerably. The material in blue, below, is taken directly from the report - but I have selected the pieces that align most specifically with the mission of museums in their communities. These are excerpts I believe reflect the current state of adaptation in the museum field, and a vision of what we can aspire to – in practice and in professional expectations.
• Despite some progress, practice is not yet advanced to implementation except in limited circumstances.
• Incremental progress in adaptation does not match the accelerating pace of climate change.
• Awareness, understanding, and acceptance of the need for transformative change is present among some, but extremely limited across the field as a whole.
• Tools supporting adaptation are increasingly available, but remain difficult to select and use.
• The field is experimenting widely, but not yet discerning best practices.
• Practice is advancing, but barriers stymie progress from planning to action.
• It understands its mission as preventing, minimizing, and alleviating climate change threats to human well-being and to the natural and built systems on which humans depend.
• It works to create new opportunities by addressing the causes and consequences of climate change in ways that solve related social, environmental, and economic problems.
• Rigorous professional standards and certification are established, based on guiding principles that can be applied to diverse contexts.
• The field facilitates social networking, trust building, and collaboration at scale.
• Actors help communities envision—and achieve—desirable futures
The museum field continuously assesses and decides how to respond to changes in the professions that interact with our work, and changes in the public’s interests. Climate change – how to mitigate it and how to adapt to it – is something we can no longer avoid and still feel we are serving our communities well.
This report can help our profession embrace the profession of climate adaptation as our ally. What these professionals know and are learning can help us protect our collections and our buildings, while helping to keep our staff and our public safe at the same time. And it will save us money in the long term, and save more than a few of our institutions as well.
Note: The Kresge Foundation funded the report. The work was prepared by Suzanne Moser Research and Consulting (susannemoser.com), Climate Resilience Consulting (climateresilience.com), and FourTwentySeven Climate Solutions (427mt.com).