Posted by: Deirdre Des Jardins | February 4, 2020

Governor’s Climate Bond Language on “Resilience Principles”

California Water Research’s January 13, 2020 blog post criticized the Newsom administration’s Draft Water Resilience Portfolio for not actually defining resilience.  The Governor’s 2020-2021 budget proposed a $4.75 billion Climate Resilience Bond, which would allocate $1 billion to the Department of Water Resources to spend on “regional and inter-regional water resilience” projects without defining what “resilience” meant.

The Department of Finance has just released the language for the Governor’s proposed 2020 Climate Resilience Bond.  The bond language defines “Resilience Principles” for investment in climate adaption in section 80202(b), and they are actually quite good:

 (b) To the extent practicable, a state agency allocating funds available pursuant to this division shall prioritize projects that advance the state’s resilience principles, as established by the State of California’s Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program, which include:

(1) Prioritize integrated climate actions, those that both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to climate impacts, as well as actions that provide multiple benefits.

(2) Prioritize actions that promote equity, foster community resilience, and protect the most vulnerable. Explicitly include communities that are disproportionately vulnerable to climate impacts.

(3) Prioritize natural and green infrastructure solutions to enhance and protect natural resources, as well as urban environments. Preserve and restore ecological systems (or engineered systems that use ecological processes) that enhance natural system functions, services, and quality and that reduce risk, including but not limited to actions that improve water and food security, habitat for fish and wildlife, coastal resources, human health, recreation and jobs.

(4) Avoid maladaptation by making decisions that do not worsen the situation or transfer the challenge from one area, sector, or social group to another. Identify and take all opportunities to prepare for climate change in all planning and investment decisions.

(5) Base all planning, policy, and investment decisions on the best-available science, including local and traditional knowledge, including consideration of future climate conditions out to 2050 and 2100, and beyond.

 (6) Employ adaptive and flexible governance approaches by utilizing collaborative partnership across scales and between sectors to accelerate effective problem solving. Promote mitigation and adaptation actions at the regional and landscape scales.

(7) Take immediate actions to reduce present and near future (within 20 years) climate change risks for all Californians; do so while also thinking in the long term and responding to continual changes in climate, ecology, and economics using adaptive management that incorporates regular monitoring.

First, the State of California’s Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program is administered by the Office of Planning and Research (OPR.)  OPR seems like an excellent agency to do this kind of over-arching planning.

OPR’s seven resilience principles are consistent with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s definition of resilience.  The IPCC defined resilience as “the ability of a system and its component parts to anticipate, absorb, accommodate, or recover from the effects of a hazardous event in a timely and efficient manner including through ensuring the preservation, restoration, or improvement of its essential basic structures and functions.”

Based on the IPCC definition of resilience, the principles would help California achieve the stated objectives.  There are many essential bits, including:

  • integrating reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and building resilience to climate impacts
  • basing all planning, policy, and investment decisions on the best available science
  • explicitly including communities that are vulnerable to climate change.
  • making decisions that do not worsen the situation or transfer the challenge from one area, sector, or social group to another.
  • taking action to reduce present and near future climate change risks while also thinking in the long term

One challenge is translating OPR’s seven investment principles to actual use when funding is allocated.  One of the best strategies might be for the legislature to create a Climate Adaptation Independent Science Board, under OPR, to review the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program, and related investments.  The structure could be similar to the Delta Independent Science Board under the Delta Stewardship Council.

OPR’s seven resilience principles do have one major shortcoming.  The principles are focused on human systems and so are quite short on ways on ensure that climate investments increase the resilience of ecosystems as well as human systems.  This is essential for investments in drought resilience.  Lund et. al. noted in 2018 that

Drought buffering for the economy in part has been paid for by native ecosystems. […] Successful environmental and ecosystem management will require a more proactive approach, involving planning, organization, and financing of effective actions, including drought planning.

If native aquatic ecosystems are to survive climate change, we must transform water management and water supply investment in the state.  Our human systems have a far greater capacity to adapt.


IPCC, 2012: Glossary of terms. In: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation [Field, C.B., V. Barros, T.F. Stocker, D. Qin, D.J. Dokken, K.L. Ebi, M.D. Mastrandrea, K.J. Mach, G.-K. Plattner, S.K. Allen, M. Tignor, and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. A Special Report of Working Groups I and II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, and New York, NY, USA, pp. 555-564. (p. 563.)

Lund, J., Medellin-Azuara, J., Durand, J., Stone, K.  “Lessons from California’s 2012–2016 Drought” 2018. Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, 2018, 144(10): 04018067.



  1. There is one good thing about the cozy relationship that Governor Newsom has established with industrial scale agriculture in California’s San Joaquin Valley. It is that he has caused us to raise our guard against the intentions that may hide behind his policy decisions. This post by California Water Research (and its earlier criticism of the Newsom administration’s Draft Water Resilience Portfolio for not actually defining resilience) are good examples of that.

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