Northeast
via Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission

ME - Commentary: Regional coordination is key to tackling climate action in Maine

The Southern Maine Regional Sustainability and Resilience Program is helping six York County towns address climate change impacts and advance resilience efforts.

Southern Maine is uniquely poised to advance meaningful climate action through bold leadership by our towns and the innovative approach of the Southern Maine Regional Sustainability and Resilience Program. Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. Municipalities are on the front lines, and southern Maine communities are already experiencing the effects of stronger, more frequent storms, rising seas and extreme temperatures. One 2018 nor’easter caused $3 million in damage in five York County coastal towns. Strapped by limited budgets, insufficient staff capacity and a lack of technical expertise, Maine municipalities find planning for climate change a tremendous challenge.

To address this challenge and drive progress, six coastal communities – Kittery, York, Ogunquit, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Wells – joined with the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission in 2019 to establish the state’s first Regional Sustainability and Resilience Program to help the towns address climate change impacts and advance sustainability and resilience efforts, work that was beyond the reach of the towns individually.

Regional coordination, planning and action are imperative for addressing issues and impacts that span municipal boundaries. In Maine, regional planning organizations like the commission are in a unique and valuable position to assist municipalities, provide technical assistance and facilitate the flow of information and resources from state agencies to communities. The Sustainability and Resilience Program exemplifies the benefits of a regional approach by tackling climate change, enhancing coordination and stretching the dollars of limited municipal budgets.

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