Urgent Responses to Climate Impacts

August 8, 2022

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FUSE Corps

As climate change advances, the City of Oakland seeks to build residents’ resilience to both natural and man-made disasters. It is particularly focused on empowering BIPOC and frontline communities’ ability to cope with shocks and stresses at the individual, household, and community level. The FUSE Executive Fellow will update the City’s Sea Level Rise Road Map and contribute additional analytical and implementation support to its comprehensive vulnerability and adaptation planning efforts.

Fellowship Dates: October 24, 2022 – October 23, 2023

ABOUT THE FUSE EXECUTIVE FELLOWSHIP

FUSE Corps is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.

When designing each fellowship project, FUSE works closely with government partners and local stakeholders to define a scope of work that will achieve substantive progress toward regional priorities. FUSE then conducts an individualized search for each project to ensure that the selected candidate has at least 15 years of professional experience, the required competencies for the role, and deep connections to the communities being served. They are data-driven and results-oriented and able to effectively manage complex projects by developing actionable roadmaps and monitoring progress to completion.

Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. Throughout their fellowships, they receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.

PROJECT CONTEXT

As climate change unfolds, natural disasters will impact cities more frequently. In 2021, U.S. cities experienced twenty natural disasters that caused more than $1 billion in damage each. Man-made disasters (e.g., terrorism, power outages, cyber attacks) also inflict severe damage. The City of Oakland is working to mitigate climate change and build residents’ resilience through a variety of pathways, with an emphasis on the BIPOC and frontline communities who are most likely to experience the most frequent and severe disruptions under the status quo. As noted in the 2016 Resilient Oakland Playbook, many Oakland residents experience chronic stresses such as poverty and racism. Subsequently, individuals, households, and communities dealing with multiple compounding stresses are less able to cope with acute shocks, such as floods, earthquakes, or wildfires.

In order to prevent the worst impacts of climate change and build BIPOC and frontline communities’ ability to cope with and overcome shocks and stresses, the City of Oakland has committed to the Oakland 2030 Equitable Climate Action Plan (ECAP). In addition to mapping out the City’s approach to preventing, mitigating, and adapting to climate change, the plan was accompanied by a Racial Equity Impact Assessment and Implementation Guide to equip the City and its partners with practical insights to advance progress toward equitable resilience.

One component of Oakland’s ECAP is focused on addressing sea level rise. As the San Francisco Bay rises, it leads to increased flooding, coastal infrastructure threats, and amplified exposure to groundwater and soil contamination, including waters spilling over Oakland’s industrial waterfront. Barring immediate action, neighboring frontline communities will be inundated with toxic flood waters and face displacement when homes or infrastructure are destroyed by floods. In 2017, the city released its preliminary Sea Level Rise Road Map, amassing strong initial information on this climate risk in Oakland. However, this plan must be updated to reflect current science, risk projections, and the adopted regulations in the ECAP as it relates to this issue.

Another component of the ECAP focuses on the need to establish sufficient and reliable revenue streams to implement mitigation and resilience solutions. Currently the mitigation for generating greenhouse gas emissions is to procure carbon credits on the open market. These credits support implementation of projects to reduce emissions elsewhere, but are rarely if ever occurring in Oakland. A restructuring of the requirements in this system has the potential to keep these offset revenues in the community, reinvested in solutions that not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also improve local air quality, create local jobs, and support community needs.

The City of Oakland will partner with FUSE Corps to further advance its equitable resilience goals. The FUSE Executive Fellow will update the Sea Level Rise Road Map, provide additional analytical and facilitation support towards Oakland’s comprehensive vulnerability and adaptation planning, and research and design a local carbon offset program to keep revenues from carbon offset purchases in the community based on this planning. As a result of this work, Oakland’s BIPOC and frontline communities will be better protected from climate change and better able to cope with unexpected shocks and stresses.

PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship.

Beginning in October 2022, the FUSE Executive Fellow will build deep relationships with a range of critical stakeholders. This will include Oakland government leaders (e.g., Department of Race and Equity, Department of Planning and Building, Port of Oakland), local environmental justice leaders, and members of the public (with an emphasis on BIPOC and frontline communities). The Executive Fellow will seek to understand the strengths, needs, opportunities, and aspirations these partners have for Oakland’s approach to climate change and resilience, with an emphasis on racial equity, flooding, and sea level rise. At the same time, the Executive Fellow will conduct extensive research to identify best practices and innovative approaches to equity and resilience in cities similar to Oakland.

Next, the Executive Fellow will update the Sea Level Rise Road Map to reflect current conditions and on-the-ground reality. This will include analyzing updated data, adapting guidance to reflect current funding opportunities (e.g., IIJA), and incorporating insights from the listening tour. The updated road map should equip Oakland officials with the insights and guidance necessary to respond to this imminent threat in a sustainable, equitable way.

Subsequently, the Executive Fellow will provide support on Oakland’s comprehensive climate change vulnerability and adaptation planning to ensure equity and resilience are embedded throughout its approach. This would include updating the Preliminary Risk Assessment (2015) with current information and data and conducting community workshops to collect priorities and shape the scope of the city’s planning. The specifics of this milestone will be determined by the Executive Fellow and their City of Oakland counterparts following the listening tour and Sea-Level Rise Road Map updates.

This would include researching and developing a proposed structure to ensure that carbon credits associated with activities in Oakland are reinvested in the Oakland community. This will include investigating similar programs created by progressive governments in San Diego County and the City of London, and will require close coordination with the Office of the City Attorney, leaders of the three major carbon credit marketplaces, and the City’s Budget Office. This innovative tool to address climate change vulnerability and adaptation has the potential to provide a stable and critical line of funding to implement climate and resilience projects, while improving the local economy and environment.

By October 2023, the Executive Fellow will have overseen the following:

  • Conduct a Stakeholder Listening Tour – Develop relationships with stakeholders in Oakland government, community groups, and members of the public (with an emphasis on BIPOC and frontline neighborhoods); conduct research of resilience strategies that have been effective in cities similar to Oakland; coordinate with state agencies focus on climate adaptation and climate risks to draw out additional best practices and content priorities
  • Update Sea Level Rise Road Map – Synthesize quantitative and qualitative insights on projected sea-level rise from the listening tour, research, and on-the-ground realities; update the 2017 Sea Level Rise Road Map and advance the resilience agenda for potentially impacted communities; liaise with the State and Bay Conservation Development Commission for implementation guidance
  • Inform Comprehensive Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation Planning – Work with City of Oakland counterparts to define and implement additional analysis or facilitation actions to advance equitable resilience at the individual, household, and community level
  • Develop a Pathway for Establishing a Local Carbon Offset Fund – Provide a summary of a legally viable approach to establishing a mechanism to keep funds from carbon offset projects in Oakland, for the purpose of funding climate mitigation, adaptation, and/or sequestration efforts, as identified by the comprehensive climate change vulnerability and adaptation planning work

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Executive Sponsor – Joe DeVries, Chief Resilience Officer and Deputy City Administrator; City Administrator’s Office
  • Project Supervisor – Daniel Hamilton, Sustainability and Resilience Director; City Administrator’s Office

QUALIFICATIONS

In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background in data analysis, stakeholder engagement, and communications is strongly preferred for this project.

  • Synthesizes complex information into clear and concise recommendations and action-oriented implementation plans.
  • Develops and effectively implements both strategic and operational project management plans.
  • Generates innovative, data-driven, and result-oriented solutions to difficult challenges.
  • Responds quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies and other processes.
  • Communicates effectively both verbally and in writing, and excels in both active listening and conversing.
  • Fosters collaboration across multiple constituencies in order to support more effective decision making.
  • Establishes and maintains strong relationships with a diverse array of stakeholders, both inside and outside of government, and particularly including community-based relationships.
  • Embraces differing viewpoints and implements strategies to find common ground.
  • Demonstrates confidence and professional diplomacy, while effectively interacting with individuals at all levels of various organizations.

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.