IU to help Hoosier communities assess and address their climate risks


Through a partnership with Indiana University, eight Indiana local governments are embarking on a year-long process to understand how their communities are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as flooding and extreme heat, and to make plans to reduce risk. 

The program, led by IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute (ERI), is one of the first community-focused climate resilience planning efforts in the state and will help local governments anticipate, prepare for, and respond to extreme weather events and other risks linked to climate change. Participants include Bloomington, Carmel, Columbus, Gary, Monroe County, New Albany, South Bend, and Terre Haute. 

“Even as Hoosiers take actions to reduce heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the worst potential impacts of climate change down the road, we must also become more resilient to the changes that have become unavoidable,” said ERI Managing Director Sarah Mincey. “Cities, towns, and counties that take the time to assess and plan for anticipated impacts today will be better positioned to cope with conditions that affect Hoosiers’ health and livelihoods.”

An aerial view of Terre Haute, Ind., one of eight communities participating in the IU Environmental Resilience Institute's 2023 Resilience Cohort. The year-long program will help local governments anticipate, prepare for, and respond to extreme weather events and other risks linked to climate change.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the 10 warmest years in the 143-year record have all occurred since 2010. Indiana has already warmed more than 1 degree Fahrenheit in the last century, with temperatures projected to rise about 5 to 6 degrees by midcentury. This shift brings with it a myriad of changes with potentially severe consequences for agriculture, public health, infrastructure, wildlife, and water quality. Though progress is being made locally and globally to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the impacts of climate change will be felt by Hoosier communities for generations. 

ERI’s 2023 Resilience Cohort, part of the McKinney Midwest Climate Project, will connect local governments to experts, training, and resources to guide them through a climate vulnerability assessment and the climate resilience planning process. The program will be facilitated by the Geos Institute, a nonprofit organization that specializes in helping communities build climate resilience.  

“Geos Institute is excited to partner with the Environmental Resilience Institute to help eight local governments in Indiana build climate resilience,” said Geoff Weaver, the institute’s Climate Ready Communities program director. “Our team will support these local leaders in developing climate vulnerability assessments and resilience plans using our Practical Guide to Building Climate Resilience and other elements of our Climate Ready Communities program, as well as our 15 years of experience helping communities around the country plan and implement climate resilience programs.” 

Each local government is also hosting a McKinney Climate Fellow, an IU undergraduate or graduate student with expertise in climate, sustainability, and resilience, to help with the assessment and planning. 

The first half of the program runs May 2023 through August 2023 and focuses on assessing past and future climate risks. The second half will take place September 2023 through April 2024 and will identify resilience strategies to be included in the final plan. Both phases will include community stakeholders. As the local governments advance through the program, they will have access to equity training and coaching, translation services, peer learning, and webinars featuring funding and technical assistance resources. 

“We recognize that there is a climate crisis and we are excited to work with our community partners as we participate in the 2023 Resilience Cohort,” said Monroe County Commissioner Peter Iverson. “This is an exciting opportunity for us to showcase that counties are also interested in solutions and building resilience to climate change, adding our unique perspective to this work.” 

Since 2019, ERI’s Resilience Cohort program has been working with Indiana local governments to prepare for and address the challenges of climate change. Through this program, more than 30 local governments have conducted community-scale greenhouse gas inventories, with eight going on to adopt climate action plans.


About the Environmental Resilience Institute 

Indiana University's Environmental Resilience Institute brings together a broad coalition of government, business, nonprofit, and community leaders to help Indiana and the Midwest better prepare for the challenges of environmental change. By integrating research, education, and community, ERI is working to create a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous future. Learn more at eri.iu.edu.