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What Is Resilience?

The ability to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to changing conditions and withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from disruptions through adaptable and holistic planning and technical solutions.

Contact Eliza Hotchkiss with questions about the resilience planning process.

To mitigate hazards and risks, the Resilience Roadmap offers comprehensive guidance for federal, state, and local entities to effectively convene at the regional level for adaptable and holistic planning. This multi-jurisdictional approach requires major cooperation across boundaries, considerable reliance on partnerships and multi-agency collaborations, and significant utilization of interdisciplinary teams.

Step-by-Step Process

To constructively lead intergovernmental planning efforts with tangible outputs, follow these steps in order:

  1. Intergovernmental Preparation and Coordination
  2. Planning and Strategy Development
  3. Plan Adoption, Implementation, and Evaluation

Learn about how the resilience roadmap process was developed.

Intergovernmental Preparation and Coordination

Intergovernmental coordination and preparation are critical first steps to resilience planning with multiple jurisdictions. Planning for various hazards across multiple management entities or system operators entails a higher level of communication and collaboration to be coordinated and effective at the regional scale.


Multi-jurisdictional planning requires convening stakeholders who represent a diverse range of perspectives on an issue. While convening is particularly important it places significant demands on people's time and resources. Therefore, prepare ahead as much as possible and make informed decisions about why, when, and how to bring a group together.

Establish Steering Committee

Prior to setting outcomes and goals, establish a planning steering committee to:

  • Develop the geographic boundaries of a resilience planning exercise
  • Identify potential multi-jurisdictional stakeholders
  • Define resilience and what it means to the stakeholder group engaged in the planning efforts
  • Determine critical infrastructures, including associated hazards and threats.

Local governments, tribes, utility service providers, regional planning organizations, state governments, and federal agencies are all empowered to manage this process and coordinate regional resilience planning activities.

Define Geographic Region

Establishing the geographic boundaries of a resilience planning exercise will help determine the:

  • Stakeholders who need to be involved
  • Potential hazards
  • Types of infrastructure or facilities to be assessed.

The geographic region could include a city, a county, a federal campus and its surrounding support facilities. It could also be as large as an island, a tribal territory, state or an operational region within an agency or organization.

Identify Stakeholders

To identify multi-jurisdictional stakeholders, start with a list of people and organizations providing support roles to operations within the defined geographic area.

Local Representatives

Long-term planning for threats posed by natural or human causes is a core responsibility of local governance. Responsibilities include implementation of building codes, statutes, community plans, and overarching collaboration with public, non-profit and private entities. Community resilience depends, in part, on the strength and quality of the relationships between the community and its local leadership, as well as state and federal coordination.

Consider the following:

  • Elected officials and policymakers
  • Tribal leadership
  • Community development and land-use planners
  • Storm-water managers
  • Hazard-mitigation planners
  • Natural resource planners
  • Floodplain managers
  • Municipal engineers
  • Emergency managers
  • Town administrators
  • Drinking and waste water managers
  • GIS and planning technicians.

State Representatives

State government stakeholders can identify hazards related to water quality, river systems, floodplain management, legal status of streams, and geology, such as landslide areas and earthquakes. They also manage public access to open space, parks, wetlands, and sensitive environmental areas. Special aspects of these functions relating to pre- and post-disaster planning include: inventories of critical facilities and systems, preparedness programs, grants administration for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) hazard mitigation funds and HUD community development block grants, and grants administration for FEMA post-disaster recovery funds. States are often the repositories of system data on both natural resources and infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, lakes, and reservoirs.

Consider the following:

  • Emergency planners and responders
  • Homeland security officers
  • Department of local affairs
  • Office of disaster recovery and resilience
  • State agencies with data, geographic information system (GIS), or planning remits
  • Energy and water planning offices
  • Natural resource planners.

Federal Regional Representatives

Federal stakeholders primarily provide funding or services, and manage systems and operations within numerous communities nationwide. Federal facilities and operations should serve as models for resilience. They should ensure that impacts of potential current and future threats are taken into account in all stages of facility planning, design, construction, and management. Water, energy, and other resource demands associated with federal activities should also be evaluated and planned for in light of impacts of potential current and future threats and in cooperation with local and regional managers and community officials.

Consider the following:

  • Federal agency leadership
  • Facility and fleet operators/managers and utility managers for federal installations/campuses/buildings
  • Long range planners for federal installation/campuses/buildings
  • Emergency and response management personnel and the Department of Homeland Security
  • Federal agency representatives with GIS and data expertise
  • Technical experts.

Non-Government Representatives

Beyond government officials, it may be necessary to engage private and public stakeholders, such as regional planning organizations and utility service providers. It is critical to involve representatives from the utility provider early in the planning process.


For the planning process, it is most effective when jurisdictions understand existing conditions. Without it, the planning process stalls due to a lack of actionable data.

Prior to collaboration, agencies and governments should gather and document data related to:

  • Emergency plans
  • Existing community plans
  • Ordinances and codes
  • Maps and data on geographic location of critical infrastructure systems or facilities
  • Community utility needs (e.g., energy, water and fuel use and generation)
  • Completed climate preparedness evaluation for the community, if in existence.
Defining Resilience Exercise

Use this worksheet to record resilience definitions and current resilience projects.


Define Resilience

Resilience is defined differently in various sectors, as well as stakeholder groups. A clear definition of resilience and understanding of what it means to all stakeholders involved in the planning process will ultimately drive the outcome of the plan.

Gather a list of definitions in advance to guide the conversation. The federal sector will most likely commit to using a definition outlined in an Executive Order or another mandate, whereas a municipal government may choose to create their own definition of resilience. Understanding the definition and justification for choosing that definition at each level of government is important to goal-setting exercises.

Identify Critical Infrastructure

Identifying critical infrastructure within the region will assist with determining where there are interdependencies among different jurisdictions, as well as prioritizing infrastructure. This may be an exercise the planning steering committee decides to undertake, or they could utilize efforts within the federal or state-specific Department of Homeland Security. Critical infrastructure may be defined as buildings, roadways, waterways, or other systems (e.g., electric grid, water treatment facilities) that support life and operations of a community or organization. Each entity will have a different definition of criticality.

Ascertain Hazards and Threats

Potential hazards and threats must be identified to understand the potential impacts to communities and, eventually, the potential mitigation efforts to consider. An all-hazards approach offers a holistic way to incorporate the many needs of various stakeholders and utilize limited resources during resilience planning. An all-hazards approach would account for the following:

  • Natural hazards resulting from acts of nature and severe weather and future climate variabilities (e.g., severe winter storm, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, solar flares, etc.)
  • Technological hazards resulting from accidents or the failures of systems and structures (e.g., bridge collapse, grid outage)
  • Threats or human-caused incidents resulting from the threats or intentional actions of an adversary (e.g., cyber, acts of terror).


Developing a resilience plan and strategy requires building on the baselining activities performed during the intergovernmental preparation and coordination phase. At this point in the process, the steering committee should prepare workshop preparation materials and distribute at least a week ahead of the meeting, allowing ample time for review by the participants so they have a clear understanding of:

  • Workshop's purpose
  • Why they are personally at the table
  • Other regional stakeholders who will be participating
  • Their own jurisdiction's definition of resilience and desired goals.

Stakeholders will also need a completed resilience baseline (if possible) for their jurisdiction/government, including maps, data and documentation, which can be shared with other stakeholders.

Create Workplan

Once resilience is defined, interdependencies and other potential threats or hazards are identified, and cascading effects of impacts to critical infrastructure are known, create a multi-stakeholder, cross-jurisdictional, inter-agency resilience roadmap that outlines goals, roles, responsibilities, and timelines. This part of the process is essential to a successful multi-jurisdictional convening and ultimately, a successful resilience plan.

Energy Profile Exercise

Use this energy profile as an example of what information to collect, where it can be found, and how it can be aggregated to inform resilient energy strategies for communities or campuses.


Complete Energy Profile

Completing an energy profile for critical operations or a community is essential for developing resilient infrastructure strategies. Beyond documenting energy consumption patterns and generation assets there are benefits associated with documenting existing utility service provider agreements and long-term regional forecasts for meeting needs in changes to population, demographics, and the economy, for example. One of the most important parts of the energy profile is a clear assessment of what kind of energy is used and how it is used within the jurisdiction. Gathering and evaluating this information also provides a baseline for measuring future progress toward energy reliability.

Stakeholders should gather geographic data related to critical infrastructure systems or facilities which provide daily operations, serve the community as a whole, or provide mission critical services. Desirable information on critical infrastructure could include:

  • Data or locations of electric transmission lines, substations, and distribution networks
  • Natural gas lines and distribution networks
  • Critical community and emergency operations facilities
  • Water and wastewater treatment facilities
  • Water distribution networks and pumping stations
  • Storm-water collection network and treatment/outflow locations
  • Fueling station networks
  • Fuel types and emergency evacuation routes
  • Cellular tower locations, service providers and fiber networks
  • Public transportation networks
  • Low-income and elderly housing locations
  • Emergency shelters, schools, vulnerable populations.

A community or government entity will have different priorities depending on operational needs and critical activities, so this data should be collected with input from the various stakeholders. Some information may be considered sensitive, so access to data or sharing of information may be limited. Understanding where evacuation priorities exist or where energy should be focused due to infrastructure needs will help formulate resilience strategies.

Establish Resilience Baseline

Forecasting the impacts of potential current and future threats and the degree to which a jurisdiction is prepared for unforeseen system stress is a complex task. However, inter-jurisdictional/intergovernmental collaboration is benefited when communities have already established a baseline, as well as having completed an evaluation for their own resilience.


Successful Convening

Gather. The Art & Science of Effective Convening

Resilience Baselining

Climate Smart Resilience Planning — Planning Evaluation Tool

Community Resilience Planning for Critical Infrastructure

Presidential Policy Directive 21: Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience

Guide to Community Energy Strategic Planning

The Community Resilience Economic Decision Guide and Online Tool

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Planning and Strategy Development

The process for intergovernmental and multi-jurisdictional resilience planning and strategy development involves a series of workshop activities. The workshop format creates a forum for the in-person dialogue necessary to move the regional planning effort through development of a resilience roadmap.

Successful Workshop Outcomes
  • An established interjurisdictional understanding of shared infrastructure interdependencies, shared vulnerabilities, and operational performance goals.
  • A developed set of resilience strategies that is responsive to shared vulnerabilities, address interjurisdictional and regional interdependencies, and further progress toward achieving the performance goals of multiple stakeholders.
  • Identified next steps and commitments related to adoption of the resilience plan and strategies at a jurisdictional and regional level.


Coordinate Workshops

Intergovernmental resilience and preparedness planning workshops can take place over one day or multiple days, depending on the capacity of stakeholders to attend multiple workshops. The more complex and broader the geographic boundary of the planning effort, the more time should be dedicated to the workshop and discussion. During the workshop(s), a facilitator, or multiple facilitators, may guide stakeholder participation and discussion through table-top exercises. Consider the guided discussions as sequential workshop activities, each playing a role moving the stakeholders through the resilience planning process.

Analyze Interdependencies

For regional resilience planning, shared interdependencies are considered to be shared infrastructure systems that serve the critical operations and functional performance of multiple jurisdictions.

The definition of infrastructure varies widely by organization and can include structures and facilities, such as a wastewater treatment plants or dams, and services provided by a broader array of community assets, such as telecommunications networks. For a list of the critical infrastructure sectors, see the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website.

Framing the conversation of interdependencies by critical infrastructure sector may be helpful for inter-governmental entities in understanding the drivers and mission activities within a community, as well as potential resilience strategies within each sector.

For intergovernmental resilience planning efforts, untangle the complex nature of critical infrastructure systems. In doing so, stakeholders are able to conceptualize how impacts to critical infrastructure systems that are 'upstream' have a direct effect on the viability and performance of their own abilities to maintain performance and operations.

Workshop Activity #1

Guide discussions related to analyzing interdependencies.


Identify Vulnerabilities

Exploring vulnerabilities among multiple stakeholders is augmented by the work completed by jurisdictions and governmental entities through the baselining exercises. The outcome from those activities provides a foundation for understanding each jurisdiction's vulnerabilities. These could include the system shocks, stressors, or hazards such as natural hazards, technological hazards, threats or human-caused incidents. These are detailed further as potential vulnerabilities:

  • Natural hazards. Resulting from acts of nature and severe weather (e.g., severe winter storm, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, solar flares, etc.).
  • Technological hazards. Resulting from accidents or the failures of systems and structures (e.g., bridge collapse, grid outage).
  • Threats or human-caused incidents. Resulting from the threats or intentional actions of an adversary (e.g., cyber, acts of terror).

Additional vulnerabilities may include longer term system stress posed by conditions such as population change and changing economic conditions. However, the focus of the resilience roadmap centers on the short and long term hazards of potential threats and their impacts on infrastructure vulnerability.

Workshop Activity #2

Guide discussions related to identifying vulnerabilities.


Set Performance Goals

Participating jurisdictions and governmental entities are responsible for performing core operations and functions. To ensure viability of these operations, identify the multiple infrastructure systems necessary to maintain operations. The process of setting performance goals involves:

  • Identifying which infrastructure systems are shared across jurisdictional lines and critical to operations multiple governments
  • Identifying the length of time it takes for those infrastructure systems to recover and regain operation given likely hazards or system shock events
  • Using the concept of "where we are now" versus "where we want to be" to understand current infrastructure recovery times and identifying aspirational performance goals for infrastructure-wide recovery
  • Using the concept of "where we are now" versus "where we want to be" to understand current critical operations recovery time and identifying aspirational performance goals for critical operations viability
  • Identifying accelerated targets for shared infrastructure recovery and viability of critical government operations.
Workshop Activity #3

Guide discussions related to setting performance goals.


Determine Strategy

Natural and engineered environments shape communities, resulting in many drivers that influence long-term resilience; it is important to determine what those drivers may be, what existing plans support resilience, and what opportunities exist to improve resilience.

Some common characteristics used for establishing resilient systems include diversity, redundancy, decentralization, transparency, collaboration, flexibility, and foresight. These characteristics help define the nature of resilience strategies. However implementation strategies can be diverse. They can span from specific projects like seawall hardening to broader policy adoption of more resilient and energy efficient building codes or land acquisition programs to protect infrastructure from future flooding hazards.

To understand this, consider that resilience strategies fall into four categories of jurisdictional activity:

  • Long-term planning in the form of comprehensive community plans, hazard mitigation plans, and watershed plans, etc.
  • Regulations and policies such as zoning, subdivision codes, floodplain regulations, building codes
  • Programs like capacity building organizations, land acquisition, low-income housing programs
  • Capital projects such as capital improvement projects, decentralized backup energy generation for critical facilities, passive storm-water management system designs, etc.
Workshop Activity #4

Guide discussions related to developing a resilience strategy.



The last step in the workshop process is to prioritize the strategies developed. By doing so, participating jurisdictions and governmental entities lay the groundwork for future collaboration on targeted planning, policy, program or projects. This may allow them to move forward with some strategies within their statutory authority and financing authority. Other strategies will rely on regional collaboration across jurisdictions or vertically among local, state, and federal agencies.

Reach Consensus

For prioritization purposes during the workshop, suggest that stakeholders focus on intergovernmental and cross-jurisdictional strategies. Consensus on focused strategies will clarify communications when reporting back to respective governmental leaders. It will also establish an understanding of viable areas for collaboration and coordination. Additionally, the process will provide a new level of context for participating jurisdictions. It will enable them to move forward without existing regional resilience strategies and become better informed about regional and intergovernmental activity, interdependencies, and vulnerabilities.

Evaluate Achievability

While prioritizing strategies by most impact and effectiveness, consider what is achievable and the following attributes when evaluating individual strategies:

  • Responsiveness to the scale and impact of likely hazards and vulnerabilities
  • Ability to create movement towards identified performance goals for resilient infrastructure systems and critical operations
  • Ability to address and strengthen interdependent infrastructure systems
  • Administrative capacity necessary for implementation
  • Available funding to implement capital projects or institutionalize resilience into existing activities
  • Data and analysis required for implementation.

Consider Performance Goals

Performance goals may be very entity-specific. However, they're important to discuss with stakeholders in case they have similar goals. The National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Community Resilience Planning Guides describes this process and serves as a good example for setting long-term goals to guide resilience planning, prioritize activities, and develop implementation strategies.

Workshop Activity #5

Guide discussions related to strategy prioritization.



With a mutually agreed upon set of resilience strategies, policies, programs, and projects—it's now time to address interjurisdictional and regional interdependencies, work toward achieving the performance goals of all stakeholders, and obtain stakeholder commitments to implement all aspects of the plan.

Gain Buy-In

Gaining buy-in for a resilience strategy is achieved through effective communication. Determining the audience and the best approach for communication are important. If agreements need to be signed it's critical to outline the necessary stakeholders to sign those agreements and set timelines for securing signatures. Talking points and discussions will be critical to this phase of the implementation process, as well. Finding the messages that resonate with stakeholders can help to communicate more effectively.

Obtain Letters of Support

Every party must be committed to the plan by ensuring action. If needed, write memos of understanding or letters of commitment and set timelines for securing signatures.


Activity Worksheets for Workshop Facilitators

Strategy Development

Federal Agency

State Government

Local Government

Plan Adoption, Implementation, and Evaluation

After establishing the resilience plan, the next steps are implementing it, measuring progress, and adjusting it to ensure success.


To varying degrees, outputs of this regional collaboration will be integrated at the jurisdictional level. Examples of resilience plan or strategy adoption and institutionalization include:

  • Strategy and project integrated in multi-stakeholder; cross jurisdictional non-binding plan for city and agency adoption.
  • Integration into local planning efforts (zoning/land use; comprehensive plan; potential current and future threat action/adaptation plan; energy plan; sustainability plan; and similar for guiding federal workplan/action plans.
  • Institutionalize the plan/concept of resilience through working groups, agreements, MOUs, funding/resource commitments between jurisdictions or between local governments and the state government.

Create Action Plan

An action plan can increase efficiency and accountability among stakeholders and track progress toward the desired end goals.

An action plan:

  • Lays out the activity
  • Describes the activity
  • Estimates funding needs for implementation
  • Identifies a responsible party
  • Establishes a timeline.

Check Progress

Once implementation begins, it will be important to check on the progress. Establish working groups with regular meetings to identify challenges, brainstorm solutions, and delegate working group member support to overcome challenges. A team-oriented approach will ensure success. One entity would struggle to implement a resilience strategy on its own.

Institutionalize Plan

One of the most effective methods of implementing a strategy is to institutionalize aspects of the plan into every-day activities. Ideally, management will be involved in the process and funding will be allocated through existing budgets to support resilience measures and efforts.


At the state level, the opportunity presents itself to institutionalize resilience and associated resilience performance metrics as a requirement for state-funded local projects and programs. To some degree, jurisdictions can integrate resilience strategies into ongoing, long-term planning activities. This includes the development and enforcement of certain policies and regulations.

At the local level, resilience strategies could be integrated into current planning policies and regulations regarding:

  • Development agreements
  • Density bonuses
  • Cluster subdivisions
  • Land acquisitions
  • Overlay zoning
  • Use-specific standards
  • Point-of-sale disclosures.

As implementing strategies, programs and capital projects involving infrastructure and development will incur higher costs. To this end, identify external funding and public finance opportunities.

Potential Cost Savings from the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program

This study, conducted by the United States Congressional Budget Office, suggests that for every $1 spent on resilience, losses from future disasters are reduced by $3.


Public-Private Partnerships

Public-private partnerships have played an increasingly larger role in the development of infrastructure projects nationwide. The integration of resilience measures and outcomes will need to be driven by the jurisdiction or interjurisdictional partners during development agreement negotiations with private partners. These partnerships pose an opportunity for resilience to be integrated into a standard business/governmental transaction process. It should be noted that the power generation asset typically remains in the ownership of a third party rather than by the public entity. Recent research completed by HUD documents the expanded leverage and impact that a public-private partnership yields.

Bond Financing

Resilience can be integrated into a bond finance mechanism in a variety of methods, including:

  • General obligation bonds for capital improvement on public facilities
  • Housing bonds
  • Low-income housing
  • School construction bonds
  • 501c(3) eligible bonds (like non-profit hospitals)
  • Disaster or green bonds.

Financial Institutions

State governments have played a role in disaster recovery and resilience implementation by developing public-purpose financial institutions. By creating financial products to fund clean energy and resilience projects, financial institutions play a key role supporting state-wide implementation of resilience projects.

Grant Funding

The nonprofit sector has developed new resilience-facing grant programs including interest and funding from large philanthropies and foundations. In this space, The Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities is a flagship program featuring support for resilience planning and project implementation.

Increasingly, Federal government grant programs address and fund resilience projects outright, incorporating scoring criteria for selection, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's National Disaster Resilience Competition. Anticipated effects of this trend indicate that agencies tied to critical infrastructure—such as the U.S. Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Energy—will be using the resilience as a meter and requirement in the near future.

States also have the opportunity to develop innovative grant programs. These programs can support the deployment of certain technologies throughout a state as pilots and demonstration projects.

Insurance Considerations

The insurance industry is also in the process of adopting and implementing measures that directly tie to resilience. Increasingly, premium costs will be realigned to reflect broader impacts of potential current and future threats. Additionally, site-level resilience improvements to infrastructure and the built environment will be reflected in rate structures and risk management strategies.


Using the performance goals established, stakeholders can assess the progress of the resilience strategy and evaluate its effectiveness.

Determine Criteria

There are currently no standard resilience metrics in practice today; however, effective community resilience metrics should provide a means of evaluating how strategies and investment decisions are working towards the performance goals established during the planning, prioritizing, and implementations process. Determining the right criteria can help community leaders determine how resilient their community is and how they know if the resilience plan is working.

NIST's Center for Risk-based Community Resilience Planning is conducting research and working with others to develop metrics and tools that support assessment of community resilience that account for life safety, functionality of buildings, and infrastructure systems during and after a disruptive hazard event. In the meantime, consider using meaningful assessment criteria, such as reducing the number of hours a critical facility is without power or increasing the number of access routes to a critical facility such as a hospital or community shelter. By prioritizing what is important to the region, the stakeholders, and a community, the metrics needed to measure success of resilience projects will become apparent.

Set Timeframe

It's beneficial to evaluate resilience activities on an annual basis and evaluate the resilience plan every other year or at least every five years. Establishing a timeframe for revisiting the planning process will help to formalize that step and ensure the conversation continues to enhance regional resilience.


Clean Energy Financial Institutions

Innovative Resilient Grant Program

Examples of Work Completed in the Finance and Funding Space


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