In 2017, the ICARP TAC developed a vision statement that expresses the characteristics of a resilient California, as well as principles that guide how the State should implement adaptation actions to achieve this vision. The TAC adopted the Vision and Principles in September 2017, and in April 2018 the TAC adopted a definition for vulnerable communities referenced throughout the Vision and Principles, and an accompanying guidebook for Defining vulnerable communities in the context of climate change.


All Californians thrive in the face of a changing climate. Leading with innovation, California meets the challenge of climate change by taking bold actions to protect our economy, our quality of life, and all people. The state’s most vulnerable communities are prioritized in these actions. Working across all levels of government, the state is prepared for both gradual changes and extreme events. Climate change adaptation and mitigation is standard practice in government and business throughout the state. California meets these goals with urgency, while achieving the following long-term outcomes:

  • All people and communities respond to changing average conditions, shocks, and stresses in a manner that minimizes risks to public health, safety, and economic disruption and maximizes equity and protection of the most vulnerable.
  • Natural systems adjust and maintain functioning ecosystems in the face of change.
  • Infrastructure and built systems withstand changing conditions and shocks, including changes in climate, while continuing to provide essential services.


  • Prioritize integrated climate actions, those that both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to climate impacts, as well as actions that provide multiple benefits.
  • Prioritize actions that promote equity, foster community resilience, and protect the most vulnerable. Explicitly include communities that are disproportionately vulnerable to climate impacts.
  • Prioritize natural and green infrastructure solutions to enhance and protect natural resources, as well as urban environments. Preserve and restore ecological systems (or engineered systems that use ecological processes) that enhance natural system functions, services, and quality and that reduce risk, including but not limited to actions that improve water and food security, habitat for fish and wildlife, coastal resources, human health, recreation and jobs.
  • Avoid maladaptation by making decisions that do not worsen the situation or transfer the challenge from one area, sector, or social group to another. Identify and take all opportunities to prepare for climate change in all planning and investment decisions.
  • Base all planning, policy, and investment decisions on the best-available science, including local and traditional knowledge, including consideration of future climate conditions out to 2050 and 2100, and beyond.
  • Employ adaptive and flexible governance approaches by utilizing collaborative partnership across scales and between sectors to accelerate effective problem solving. Promote mitigation and adaptation actions at the regional and landscape scales.
  • Take immediate actions to reduce present and near future (within 20 years) climate change risks for all Californians; do so while also thinking in the long term and responding to continual changes in climate, ecology, and economics using adaptive management that incorporates regular monitoring.

Vulnerable Communities Definition

Climate vulnerability describes the degree to which natural, built, and human systems are at risk of exposure to climate change impacts. Vulnerable communities experience heightened risk and increased sensitivity to climate change and have less capacity and fewer resources to cope with, adapt to, or recover from climate impacts. These disproportionate effects are caused by physical (built and environmental), social, political, and/ or economic factor(s), which are exacerbated by climate impacts. These factors include, but are not limited to, race, class, sexual orientation and identification, national origin, and income inequality.

For More Information

Sloane Viola
Sloane Viola is the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program's Council Program Manager.