Continuing their commitment to working with communities and local partners to prevent and prepare for climate change, the Baker-Polito administration announced $5 million in supplemental funding for the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program, last Friday morning at the Revere Beach bandstand. The grant and designation program, which was created last year as part of Gov. Baker’s Executive Order 569, provides communities with funding, technical support, climate change data and planning tools to identify hazards, develop strategies to improve resilience, and implement priority actions to adapt to climate change. Gov. Baker recently filed legislation which would put the MVP Program into law, as well as authorize over $1.4 billion in capital allocations for investments in safeguarding residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, protecting environmental resources, and investing in communities.
To further assist communities in planning for climate change impacts, the Baker-Polito Administration has also launched a new website, resilient MA Climate Clearinghouse, which will provide communities access to the best science and data on expected climate change impacts, information on planning and actions communities can deploy to build resiliency and avoid loss, and links to important grant programs and technical assistance. The site, which was built with data developed through a partnership between EEA, the Northeast Climate Center at UMass-Amherst and the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, provides access to statewide climate change projections showing how temperature, precipitation and sea level rise will change through the end of the century, which any user can overlay with other data of interest, including information on emergency facilities, infrastructure and natural resources.
“The Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program and our new Climate Clearinghouse website are a vital part of our administration’s efforts to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and safeguard residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “These resources will ensure all Massachusetts communities have access to the best data and planning tools to make scientifically-sound and cost-effective decisions as they work to prepare for the challenges ahead.”
“The extreme weather events this winter dramatically revealed that cities and towns across the Commonwealth are on the front lines of climate change, so it is a priority of our administration to ensure they have the tools they need to protect their residents, businesses and infrastructure,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. “We are already working with over 20 percent of Massachusetts municipalities to identify and address their climate-related vulnerabilities through the MVP Program, and are proud to announce this significant new funding to ensure all communities across the state can take advantage of this opportunity.”
Through the MVP Program, municipalities work through a community-based workshop process to identify key climate-related hazards, vulnerabilities and strengths, develop adaptation actions, and prioritize next steps. Results of the workshops and planning efforts are then used to inform existing local plans, grant applications, budgets, and policies. Upon successful completion of the program, municipalities are designated as a “Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program Community,” and are eligible for follow-up grant funding and other opportunities. There are currently 74 MVP communities across the state, representing over 20 percent of the state’s municipalities.
“The changing climate will have significant impacts from the hills of the Berkshires to the Cape and Islands, so we encourage all communities in every corner of the state to apply for the MVP program,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The Climate Clearinghouse website will also provide an incrediblyimportant tool to help our state and local officials understand how the climate is projected to change over the next century and what risks different part of the state will be dealing with, and allow us to better work with cities and towns, local agencies, organizations, and institutions across the state to plan and adapt for the future.”
The MVP program is led by an experienced local project coordinator with a core team of town staff and volunteers representing town planning departments, emergency managers, conservation commissioners, economic councils, the business community and other key stakeholders. Technical assistance is delivered by state-certified MVP Program providers using a standardized toolkit for assessing vulnerability and developing strategies, and newly developed climate projections and data from the Northeast Climate Science Center at UMass-Amherst.
In addition to planning grants, this round of the program will also include MVP Action Grants to provide funding for existing MVP communities to implement projects that support critical priorities identified through the MVP process. These projects may include follow-up vulnerability assessments, design studies, local bylaws and ordinances, redesigns and retrofits, natural infrastructure and storm protection, and education and outreach.
“We recognize that many public spaces – places that have helped shape our culture and communities – are being threatened by climate change,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “Massachusetts is a leader in supporting renewable energy, energy efficiency and supporting policies to reduce our emissions. While we are doing our part, we still see the impacts of climate change. Giving our municipalities the tools to pinpoint key risks, prioritize protection measures and implement necessary.”