December 11, 2020

Enterprise Hosts Webinar on Equitable and Resilient Communities

webinar

On December 2, Enterprise, joined by leadership from FEMA and HUD, held a webinar, Expanding Mitigation Partnerships, Promoting Resilient and Equitable Communities, to discuss strategic program and funding opportunities aiming to promote resilient and equitable communities. 

Speakers included Angela Gladwell, Director, Hazard Mitigation Assistance/Mitigation Directorate, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration/Resilience, Jennifer Carpenter, Assistant Director of Policy for the Disaster Recovery & Special Issues Division, HUD, Marion McFadden, Senior Vice President, Public Policy & Senior Advisor, Resilience, Enterprise Community Partners, Laurie Schoeman, National Director, Resilience and Disaster Recovery, Enterprise Community Partners and Kelly Pflicke, Resiliency Specialist, FEMA Region 2.  

The session welcomed over 700 attendees from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, USVI, Guam as well as partners in England, Mexico, and India also working on topics of equity and disaster mitigation. 

Panel Insights and Recommendations

In an era where the nation is facing unprecedented risks from natural hazards, pandemics, and economic disruption — it is essential for mitigation to elevate equity and community participation, while also addressing other community needs such as public health, municipal funding, and housing. 

The role of multi-sector partnership is crucial to reach an inclusive community resilience

Marion Mcfadden, Enterprise Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Senior Advisor for Resilience, highlighted that tools such as FEMA’s Guides to Expanding Mitigation “present an extraordinary opportunity for stakeholders to work in partnership to build a resilient nation and plan for and respond to foreseeable disasters.”

Additionally, collaborating with community-based organizations is key to identifying communities’ priorities and shared goals. Emergency managers must recognize the communities they serve and collaborate more frequently with frontline communities, which are most vulnerable to the impacts of disasters. Community resilience requires a coordinated effort between stakeholders to create partnerships to achieve these outcomes and to learn from each other.  

“We need to understand legacy of policies such as Redlining, which directly informs vulnerability of communities today, in order to understand how to mitigate climate risks and promote equitable and resilient communities” -Laurie Schoeman, National Director Resilience and Disaster Recovery.

Community Lifelines provide indispensable services, essential to the safety, health, and economic security of a community

Kelly Pflicke, Resiliency Specialist at FEMA Region 2 asserted that “Mitigation projects that emphasize Community Lifelines should be grounded in a comprehensive approach to planning.” 

The Guides to Expanding Mitigation is a tool that illustrates the connection between mitigation and other sectors of the economy, including agriculture, arts and culture, equity, electric power, municipal financing, public health, and transportation. The goal of these guides is to start conversations with different sectors by illustrating how mitigation connects to each of them, as well as support new programs such as the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC). The Guides are part of a broader effort by FEMA to create a culture of preparedness

For instance, the public health guide highlights the broader impacts of disasters on public health in communities, as we are experiencing with the COVID-19 pandemic. This guide also outlines collaboration opportunities in this sector and ways to include public health and pandemics mitigation in emergency management planning.  

Equity should be incorporated at all level of decision-making and program implementation 

FEMA’s Guides to Expanding Mitigation showcase how community officials can partner with the whole community to strive for equity and hazard mitigation. Angela Gladwell, Director, Hazard Mitigation Assistance/Mitigation Directorate, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration/Resilience stated that “It's clear that for FEMA to reduce disaster suffering, we must address issues of equity and how we deliver our programs.” 

A key takeaway is the need to listen to communities and get relevant stakeholders engaged during the decision-making and implementation process, which is crucial for equitable outcomes. Equity should be incorporated throughout the identification and assessment of risk, community planning and project prioritization, and grant allocation ensuring funding is accessible to those who need it most. 

Jennifer Carpenter, Assistant Director of Policy for the Disaster Recovery & Special Issues Division at HUD also emphasized the importance of increasing citizen participation in the process and transparency throughout the implementation of projects. An example is the CDBG-MIT program, where HUD requires grantees to form a citizen advisory committee that would be attached to the mitigation action plan, projects and activities chosen by the localities.

Additional Recommendations and Next Steps

  • Streamlining interagency collaboration to better recognize and effectively solve the challenges that communities are facing.
  • Aligning programs and consolidate language around disaster mitigation to improve transparency, efficiency, and effectiveness.
  • Sharing best practices as grantees learn most from each other, emphasizing data-informed decisions and increasing access to this data.
  • Integrating disaster risk and mitigation into community planning processes. 
  • Involving affected communities on the ground to participate in the decision-making process as community-led programs are most successful. 
  • Identifying ways to measure success from an equity lens.

As we move forward in the 21st century, the challenges we are facing are increasingly more complex requiring a multitude of expertise and cross-sector collaboration at every level. One of the main takeaways from this session is that equity needs to be drawn into mitigation programs as much as recovery, crucial to preserving and protecting the most vulnerable communities. 

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