State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

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New Courses Will Lead the Way on Climate Resilience and Equitable Disaster Response

The National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) at the Columbia Climate School, under a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is launching a new series of trainings on climate change, equity and emergency management. These courses are now certified by FEMA for delivery throughout the United States. These trainings are designed to equip emergency managers, community groups, environmental associations and the public with equity as a foundation and to lead the whole community in climate resilience.

Homes flooded by Hurricane Ian.
Homes flooded by Hurricane Ian. Photo: Florida Fish and Wildlife

“With the increasing impacts of climate change, we can expect to see more extreme events and growing vulnerability to the disasters that occur. Historically underserved communities are disproportionately at risk,” said Jeff Schlegelmilch, director of NCDP.  

“We must recognize that we are facing a climate crisis and educate ourselves and the nation about the impacts our changing climate poses to the field of emergency management,” said FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell.

The courses have been developed through a rigorous instructional design process, bringing in world-class experts on climate change and equity from the Columbia Climate School, and partner organizations such as the Institute for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Management (I-DIEM).

“Our needs analysis showed that emergency managers are managing the ramifications of increasingly unpredictable and severe weather events and the culminating new challenges being imposed on the populations they serve,” said Thomas Chandler, deputy director of NCDP. “In addition, we have identified the need for increased awareness that disasters disproportionately impact vulnerable populations.”

The new curriculum covers a wide array of topics, including:

Climate Literacy for Emergency Managers: This asynchronous web-based training will provide participants with an overview of climate change and how it relates to emergency management.

Understanding Climate Change and Social Vulnerability for Disaster Management: This live virtual training will provide participants with an overview of climate change and its impact on disaster management and vulnerable populations.

Understanding Climate Risk: Hazard, Vulnerability, and Community Resilience: This instructor-led training will provide participants with an overview of climate change and community resilience.

Climate Change Risks for Underserved Populations: This four-hour seminar will provide emergency managers with important information regarding climate change and the effect it could have on underserved populations after major disasters.

The trainings support communities’ efforts to address their climate risks, hazards and vulnerabilities; incorporate strategies into their emergency management programs; strategize more effectively with their community leaders; and lead the way in creating more resilient and equitable community responses.

NCDP works to understand and improve the nation’s capacity to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. NCDP focuses on the readiness of governmental and non-governmental systems; the complexities of population recovery; the power of community engagement; and the risks of human vulnerability, with a particular focus on children.

For media inquiries, contact Thomas Chandler, deputy director and director of FEMA training programs at NCDP, at Or click here to inquire about becoming a training host.

The training grant is supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Cooperative Agreement EMW-2022-CA-00037 and administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Points of view or opinions expressed in this document are those of the author and do not represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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