Climate change has the potential to affect everyone on the planet and virtually every aspect of our lives, including here in the Upper Valley.

The good news is that many throughout the Upper Valley are working to combat climate change and help our communities adapt—from utilities switching to low-carbon power sources to communities creating riverside buffer zones.

The public is invited to find out the range of ways climate change impacts our region, who is doing what, and how individuals can get involved, at a Climate Partners Summit on Thursday, Feb. 25, 3 to 4:30 pm.  

Hosted by the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW), the summit starts with an update on the latest climate science followed by a panel of UVAW partners sharing how climate adaptation weaves through many areas of work. Speakers are:

  • Michael Caduto, Director – Sustainable Woodstock
  • Matt Cahillane, Program Manager – NH Department of Public Health Services
  • Kevin Geiger, AICP – Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission 
  • Kate McCarthy, AICP, Sustainable Communities Program Director – Vermont Natural Resources Council
  • Peg Merrens, Vice President, Conservation – Upper Valley Land Trust  
  • Erich Osterberg, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences – Dartmouth College
  • Ron Rhodes, Director of Restoration Programs – Connecticut River Conservancy
  • Jack Spicer, Clerk, Climate Advisory Committee for the Town of Hartford 
  • Graham Turk, Innovation Strategist – Green Mountain Power

Founded in 2011, UVAW is a bi-state group representing state and regional environmental and health organizations, universities, regional planning commissions, municipalities, and employers. Vital Communities is an active UVAW member and provides administrative support for the workgroup. UVAW meets monthly to focus on building climate-resilient communities in the Upper Valley and holds semi-annual information sessions addressing broad aspects of climate change mitigation and adaptation. 

UVAW and Vital Communities also run the Climate Change Leadership Academy (2CLA),  a six-session program aiming to educate, inspire, and prepare participants to take meaningful action on climate change mitigation and adaptation in their communities. 2CLA is accepting applications through February 14 for its 2021 sessions, which run March through June.

Summit organizers hope the event will offer attendees a sense of how climate change impacts their work and communities, and which other individuals and organizations they could team up with, in their own efforts. 

“Anyone attending this event will see the breadth and depth of the work that’s going on,” said Kevin Geiger, Senior Planner for the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission, long-time UVAW member, and moderator of the summit panel. “Oftentimes it’s easy to be reading the paper and think, ‘Gosh, this is a really big problem. Why isn’t anyone doing anything about it?’ When in fact, people are doing something about it. You just need to tune into the right channels.”

Geiger said he hopes people will make new connections. “I don’t think it’s obvious to people that conserving farmland might be a climate adaptation move, that streambank buffers and other measures around  water quality are also a climate adaptation moves.” The summit will look at what’s already happening in the Upper Valley through the lens of climate adaptation. “We’re hoping those partners can make connections during the event and discover new connections and partnerships around our shared climate goals.”