Community Climate Resiliency Efforts: Lessons from Massachusetts

IGS Executive Director Rebecca Pearl-Martinez recently joined the US Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) Boston field office on June 14, 2023, for a BFO Connects panel discussion with local experts on efforts made in Massachusetts to promote climate resiliency while also improving economic opportunity within their communities.

Massachusetts has designated certain midsize urban centers that anchor regional economies as Gateway Cities. These communities were industrial hubs for generations. However, as manufacturing jobs disappeared over the past several decades, these cities often faced challenges in attracting new economic investment. In addition, smaller coastal communities face the possibility of rising sea levels that threaten to disrupt these towns’ functions and character.

This event highlighted how local communities are planning for and addressing climate change—and in particular how communities are seeking to identify community assets that can be used to leverage climate resiliency and sustainability.

View IGS Presentation

Panelists included:

  • Rebecca Pearl-Martinez, Executive Director at the Boston University Institute for Global Sustainability. Her research includes studying the challenges faced by industrial legacy cities in the United States. Ms. Pearl-Martinez discussed examples of climate resiliency efforts within Massachusetts Gateway Cities.

  • Johanna Neumann, Board member, Community Action Works, discussed additional efforts within Massachusetts to promote climate resiliency, including Brayton Point, a former coal-fired power plant in Somerset, Massachusetts, that was transformed into a wind energy facility.

  • Jeffrey Walker, Executive Director of the Southeastern (Mass.) Regional Planning & Economic Development District, who discussed the opportunities and challenges experienced at Brayton Point from an economic development perspective, as well as other renewable energy projects in the region and SRPEDD’s role in helping communities plan for climate resiliency under the state’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program.

BFO Connects works to strengthen relationships with area institutions engaged in research, policy design, and program implementation across a spectrum of issues linked closely to the US Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) work. Through outreach and dialogue with local practitioners, they hope to learn from the work of others, enhance GAO’s visibility in the local community, and foster discussion within their workplace.