Climate and Equity Roundtables: NOAA’s chance to listen and learn

NOAA National Geodetic Survey emergency response imagery shows damage to buildings and homes in Houma, Louisiana, following Hurricane Ida.
NOAA National Geodetic Survey emergency response imagery shows damage to buildings and homes in Houma, Louisiana, following Hurricane Ida. (NOAA)

You spoke, we listened.

NOAA leadership has been convening a series of Climate and Equity Roundtables to receive feedback and recommendations directly from local stakeholders and organizations in communities around the country about how to improve NOAA’s policies, products, and services to better meet the needs of all users, particularly historically marginalized communities.

As part of NOAA’s continuing commitment to integrate equity—providing people with the opportunities and resources they need to succeed, with the recognition that people have different circumstances due to historic and systemic inequality—across all of the agency’s operations, NOAA held listening sessions with community groups, academic partners, religious leaders, and local government representatives about climate impacts facing their communities in Alaska, Connecticut, Hawai’i, along the Mississippi River, coastal Louisiana, Detroit, and the Las Vegas and Phoenix metro areas. Issues discussed ranged from coastal and river-based flooding to sea level rise and extreme heat, and how NOAA can work more effectively with partners to address these challenges.

“NOAA knows that supporting a weather and climate-ready nation is about more than just collecting data and conducting research,” said Dr. Rick Spinrad, NOAA Administrator. “We have a mission and obligation to turn our world-class science into useful insights and services that help all Americans make informed decisions about the risks facing their families, businesses, and communities, and I’m grateful to the partners who participated in the roundtables for providing valuable feedback about how we do just that.”

The challenges that each community face are diverse, but there are several key services that partners are looking to NOAA to provide:

  • Targeted outreach and messaging to vulnerable communities to ensure critical climate information is understandable and can be used to drive decisions;
  • Embedded NOAA staff in communities as trusted resources for climate information and decision support;
  • Incorporation of local knowledge about changing climate into NOAA’s products and services; and
  • Support to move from research and assessment to implementation of proven solutions to climate challenges experienced by vulnerable communities

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to advancing racial equity and support for vulnerable communities,” said David Hayes, Special Assistant to the President for Climate Policy. “NOAA’s Climate and Equity Roundtables are illustrative of a whole-of-government approach to ensuring the American people, especially those most vulnerable, have the information, tools, and services needed to tackle the climate crisis.”

The Climate and Equity Roundtables support NOAA’s broader focus on integrating equity fully into our operations and workforce. Recent actions include enhancing the climate.gov website to improve accessibility for all types of users, awarding $171 million in funding for dozens of projects across the country focused on advancing environmental justice and resilience planning priorities, and launching a prize competition with the Census Bureau through The Opportunity Project to accelerate technology innovation into equitable strategies to respond to climate change. 

Find out more about NOAA’s equity-related work.