Climate Resilient Communities

Click here to view the list of actions that are part of the Climate Smart Communities (CSC) Certification program.

This video highlights how conservation planning can help communities build a more resilient future. The beautiful Town of Wawarsing in Ulster County, NY completed a natural resources inventory and open space plan to identify conservation priorities and recommend actions. In 2019, the town implemented one of the key policy recommendations by adopting the Critical Environmental Area designation for two ecologically-important resources in the community. Thanks to this work, any potential impacts on the quality of these critical areas must be considered during environmental review.

Cornell Cooperative Extension Climate Resilience Partnership

The Climate Resilience Partnership (CRP) is a combination of research, demonstration, and educational outreach projects to address the challenges of flooding, stream and watershed management, and climate change. It is a partnership being led by the New York State Water Resources Institute at Cornell University and Cornell Cooperative Extension, with support from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program. This project was initiated in the summer of 2012.

Below is work that has been completed with communities within the region as well as our current work. This work funded by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Hudson River Estuary Program and the NYS Water Resources Institute with support from the NYS Environmental Protection Fund. 

  • From 2018 – 2020 this funding has allowed our CCE Associations to work with 33 communities to complete 45 CSC adaptation actions, 10 CSC Certification Assessments and provide direct CSC Certification submission assistance to 6 communities. Of those 33 communities, 9 are currently certified and we anticipate 4 more to be certified after the review of the January submissions.
  • In 2021 we will be working with 22 communities (12 of whom are new to the project), to complete 20 CSC adaptation actions, 9 CSC Certification Assessments and provide support to 3 communities for CSC submission.
  • We anticipate that by the end of 2021 this project will have worked with 45 communities to complete 65 adaptation actions, 19 CSC Certification Assessments and provide submission assistance to 9 communities. This could lead to 17 of these communities -- if not more -- achieving certification in the program. These numbers only include the direct work that has happened through this funding and does not include additional actions communities have completed because of our work with them, or actions that have been completed due to additional funding that has been leveraged.

State Support for Local Climate Action

Climate Smart Communities (CSC) is a New York State program that helps local governments take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate. The program offers free technical assistance, grants, and rebates for electric vehicles.

Registered communities have made a commitment to act by passing the CSC pledge. Certified communities are the foremost leaders in the state; they have gone beyond the CSC pledge by completing and documenting a suite of actions that mitigate and adapt to climate change at the local level. See a map of and data pertaining to participating climate-smart communities at

Climate Adaptive Design in Kingston

The CAD Studio links Cornell students in landscape architecture with flood-risk Hudson Riverfront communities to explore design alternatives for more climate-resilient and connected waterfront areas. Community stakeholders are engaged throughout the studio to help inform the design process and support more usable results for the partner municipality. Learn more about the Climate Adaptive Design (CAD) Project.

Waterfront Design Principles

To be resilient, waterfront designs should:

  • Meet the standards for receiving all applicable state and local permits and be justifiable as reasonable and necessary
  • Consider up-to-date maps and data (see links below for regional climate projections and mappers for flooding and tidal wetland migration, etc.) on current and future projected conditions
  • Adequately and cost-effectively withstand flood and erosion risk now and over the life of the project
  • Be cost-effective over the long term given operation, ongoing maintenance, and replacement costs
  • Maintain and add ecological value to the site(s) by conserving or restoring existing natural features and their potential pathways to migrate over time (for example, wetlands moving upland with sea-level rise)
  • Improve or create water-dependent or water-enhanced uses and/or relocate water independent uses out of risk areas
  • Create new opportunities for public access, education, and/or interpretation that can be enjoyed throughout the year
  • Address contaminated soils, brown fields, etc


Melinda Herzog
Healthy Communities Issue Leader
845-340-3990 ext. 342

Last updated November 29, 2023