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Business MANAGING HIGHER ED Turning Risk Into Resilience Higher education can lead (and beneft from) climate preparedness eforts. BY DAV ID HALE S AND SAR AH BRY LINSK Y T HE UNITED STATES IS already feeling the impacts of climate change, and colleges and universities — and the communities in which they are located — are not prepared. The fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA), released in draft form in early 2013, ﬁnds that U.S. average temperatures will increase between 2°F and 4°F; sea level will rise from one to four feet; and heavy precipitation will consistently exceed stormwater capacity, increase ﬂooding, and worsen existing erosion issues (NCA Draft, 2013, Executive Summary). The ﬁndings make clear that we must prepare to live and do business in new ways, becoming more resilient to extreme weather events and better equipped to adapt to a changing climate. Higher education has already taken a leadership role in climate mitigation — that is, preventing climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions — as displayed by the 660 signatory campuses of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) who have collectively reduced net carbon emissions by 25 percent in just ﬁve years. Now, higher education must take the lead in climate adaptation — preparing for and responding to the impacts of climate change. Addressing Risk and Responsibility Colleges and universities face clear and growing risks from climate disruption, and it is critical that presidents and those with ﬁduciary responsibility for these institutions be aware of and act to minimize risks for both campus and surrounding community. College presidents are already reporting damage associated with a changing climate in recent years, with ﬂooding in upstate New York and Vermont, roof collapses from record-breaking snow in Washington, DC, droughts in Atlanta, and erosion and sea level rise in California. And from Maryland to Massachusetts, some 1,200,000 college students were disrupted as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Only campuses like New York University and Princeton University, which have implemented on-site cogeneration plants with the ability to generate electricity on-site without grid-support, were able to keep lights and heat on during the storm even when surrounding municipalities were without power. The future of higher education institutions is inextricably linked with the future of the communities that surround them. Food systems, water, power, transportation — the elements on which a college depends all come from or transit the community nest for each institution. Opportunity Colleges and universities are sources of expertise with signiﬁcant resourceconvening ability and diverse connections within their local communities. As such, they can serve as "hubs" in their communities on adaptation issues and help their regions prepare for the impacts brought on by climate disruption, providing vision and coordination. T O O L S O F E N G AG E M E N T Earth Month Engagement Campaign This month, Second Nature kicked off an Earth Month Engagement Campaign that challenges college and university presidents to take meaningful and quantiﬁable action on climate change by signing the American College & University President's Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). ACUPCC signatories have access to an extensive support system and a framework structured for producing signiﬁcant results. In the last six years, the ACUPCC network has grown to include nearly 700 signatories, leading to emissions reductions of more than 2M metric tons of CO2. This is an exciting time for schools to join the active network 48 COLLEGE PLANNING & MANAGEMENT / APRIL 2013 as it hosts an Earth Month: Celebrating Sustainability Series and a video-voting competition for the Fourth Annual Second Nature Climate Leadership Award ﬁnalists in partnership with PlanetForward.org. Information about these and other programs is available at www.secondnature.org. From April 1st to June 30th, Second Nature will offer free 30-minute technical assistance telephone consultations for campus sustainability teams to provide initial tools to help institutions engage more deeply on campus sustainability. For information about joining the ACUPCC, please contact Axum Teferra, the Membership and Engagement Fellow, at 617/722-0036, ext. 216. WWW.PLANNING 4EDUCATION.COM