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Process Guidance

The Collaborative proposes a three-step resilience planning process that prioritizes nature-based strategies and focuses on vulnerable communities. The primary focus of this process is to help staff and community organizations:


  • Understand holistic and multi-benefit climate solutions that can be implemented at the local level 

  • Advocate for nature-based solutions with decision-makers, public works staff, and the community 


Socially vulnerable populations, such as older adults, children, unhoused individuals, and some communities of color, are at a higher risk of negative economic and health outcomes associated with climate change. These populations face cascading consequences related to employment, food access, and housing. Solutions for climate resilience need to include the needs of these communities. 

Step-by-Step Process

Identifying Solutions

The primary focus of this three-step process is to help staff, non-profits, and decision-makers frame, develop, and advocate for nature-based solutions and concepts while ensuring the integration of equity. This is done through sharing information on the type and scope of nature-based solutions and policies available in Santa Clara County, and increasing understanding of the multi-benefit resilience and adaptation solutions that can be implemented at the local level within a coordinated regional framework. 



Frame the problem and the extent of the project or initiative to shape what type of solutions might be effective. 




Understand and learn about nature-based solutions (NBS) which are physical and policy interventions.



Ensure the fullest integration of NBS elements while supporting equity commitment.




Scope & Identify Goals

In the first step, you should work on clearly scoping the problem and setting project goals. Is utilizing nature-based solutions a priority? To what extent will you need to incorporate engineered or "grey" solutions? How do the nature-based and engineered solutions work together in the system?


Typically, problems are multi-dimensional and require working closely with stakeholders and the community to define needs, concerns and opportunities. The questions below are designed to be used as discussion points to help develop the scope and goals internally or with stakeholders. 


Once the scope is defined, use what you learned to help develop project goals, integrating the multi-benefit criteria in the process, as appropriate. 


Questions to Consider

Project Alignment?

Project Alignment?

Does the project align with, or support considerations outlined in existing policies like safety, housing, health, environmental justice? Look to existing documents including:
Local Hazard Mitigation Plans
General or Specific Plans
Parks and Open Space Plan
Climate Adaptation Plans

Related Projects?

Related Projects?

Are there other projects planned or in the works that should be connected or aligned with this one?



What is the planning area? A region? A city? A neighborhood? Site? Is it well suited to nature-based approaches?



Do funding sources exist which can be tapped to help implement and influence solution sets?

Community Engagement?

Community Engagement?

Has the community been engaged with the issue? If no, how can they be engaged?



Which hazards or issues are you trying to address?
Current Tidal Flooding
Climate impacted Sea Level Rise
Riverine Flooding
Riverine Erosion
Stormwater Flooding

How Urgent?

How Urgent?

What is the urgency? Is there a timeframe or project deadline for implementation? Can short- to mid-term solutions be implemented?



Who do you need to work with to implement the project? Other jurisdictions? Community members? Other regional or state agencies? Developers? Community-based Organizations?



What are the triggers or drivers for the project? Is it an elected individual, a regulation or general pressure from the community, an agency, or neighboring jurisdiction?



Identify & Prioritize Solutions

The Collaborative promotes the use of nature-based solutions to support long-term resilience and livability in the County. Nature-based solutions will often be undertaken in concert with traditional manmade or "grey" interventions - ultimately a hybrid solution.


The following catalog of physical and policy interventions outlines a range of nature-based options suited to the County and its climate, and a summary of their requirements, dependencies, and supporting information to provide decision-makers and staff with the non-technical, accessible strategies to support advocacy and recommendations in their jurisdiction.


There are two sections to browse: Physical and Policy Interventions.

Physical Interventions

Santa Clara County Shoreline with birds in foreground, buildings in the back

Sea Level Rise

Warmer conditions that melt glaciers and ice sheets and expand sea water, are leading to sea level rise (SLR).

Worker drinking water under hot sun

Extreme Heat

Longer, more frequent, and more severe extreme heat events are expected to occur in Santa Clara County.

Wildfire image in woodland


The frequency of hot and dry conditions are projected to increase, making certain areas more prone to wildfire.

Flooding image with red car half way submerged

Riverine Flooding

Extreme precipitation patterns from climate change lead to riverine overflows and flooding in surrounding areas.

Policy Interventions

Economic Lever

Economic levers are a group of financial policy strategies that jurisdictions can use to incentivize resilient design.

Building Codes

Building codes refer to restrictions and resilience requirements that developers and contractors must meet when building new developments or redeveloping a property.


Zoning policies guide the siting and type of new developments or redevelopment in an area to avoid or address flood risks.

Ecological Support

Ecologically supportive policies address resilience through a range of regulations, developer requirements, and the use of specific policies such as those that encourage regenerative landscaping and green infrastructure practices.

Multi-benefit Criteria


Assess the Solutions

Once strategies have been identified, the project as a whole and the strategies themselves should be assessed to determine how well they meet project goals and the multi-benefit criteria.


This assessment, intended for city staff, project partners, engineers, public works staff, and more can help to ensure the integration of nature-based elements while supporting a commitment to equity.


Below, the multi-benefit criteria are outlined and reflect the goals defined earlier in the process. Download the worksheet to score and evaluate your project or browse the details online. 

Multi-benefit Criteria



Reduces environmental injustices and systemic disparities experienced by marginalized communities and ensures equitable distribution of project benefits and burdens.


Long-Term Value

Prioritizes solutions that deliver multiple long-term benefits and value in line with the costs of design, implementation, and maintenance.


Ecosystem Benefit

Supports thriving ecosystems and biodiversity, balancing the needs of wildlife, landscapes, and natural resources without creating harm to the community.


Community Benefit

Creates community benefits that improve human health and well-being, community resilience, quality of life, and supports a prosperous and just economy.



Bridges and strengthens connections between organizations, jurisdictions, etc. to work towards scaled solutions.

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