When the Massachusetts “State Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Plan” was due for a 5-year update, as required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency hired ERG to support this project, working in collaboration with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Because much had evolved in past 5 years, ERG would need to help the state update all information currently in the plan; integrate new data and information for identifying the highest-priority climate change impacts in Massachusetts; incorporate environmental justice and equity issues; add data and mapping for environmental justice and other priority populations; integrate new census data; include an update to FEMA’s HAZUS; and respond to new FEMA guidance for state hazard mitigation plans. In addition, MEMA and EEA wanted the update process to build capacity and alignment across all state agencies.
To meet these goals, ERG collaborated extensively with MEMA and EEA throughout the process, held a series of working sessions with all participating state agencies, and held drop-in office hours between meetings so that representatives of state agencies could stop by to get questions answered throughout the process. We obtained local, regional, and community group input by reviewing local hazard mitigation plans and holding meetings and focus groups with representatives of these sectors. Informed by the input gained from this process, ERG fully integrated environmental justice and equity, as well as quantitative and qualitative findings for near-, mid-, and long-term climate effects, into each of the plan’s hazard assessments. We also expanded the information the plan provided in many key topic areas, including evaluation of risks to human health and safety, infrastructure and community assets, natural resources, economy, and governance sectors.
To encourage innovative and new approaches to hazard mitigation and climate adaptation and build alignment across state agencies, ERG facilitated multiple rounds of action development with MEMA, EEA, and other state agencies. This process resulted in a defined set of actions, based on the latest best available data and science, that directly address high-consequence vulnerabilities to hazards and climate change, disproportionate impacts to environmental justice and other priority populations, and gaps in the Commonwealth’s current plans and programs. Finally, to track and measure progress, ERG helped Massachusetts design and develop an updated Action Tracker that includes new metrics to provide more detail on how the state is reducing risk and building resilience. Through this process, ERG helped ensure that the 2023 SHMCAP meets the unique needs and context of Massachusetts, is based on the most recent information and best practices, and addresses the latest FEMA guidance and requirements.