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Climate Change and Business Continuity: Traditional Resiliency Planning Is Not Enough

Despite numerous early warnings signs in the form of increased frequency and severity of meteorological events, North Americans have been slow to react to the realities of our changing climate.  Our politicians have failed to engage citizens in a fact-based debate about the best way for our societies to adapt.  With the exception of the insurance industry who deserve a great deal of credit for producing pioneering research on climate change mitigation strategies, very few organizations are making plans for how they will adapt and thrive during the coming period of rapid change.

Disaster recovery and business continuity planning strategies are among the first places that forward-thinking organizations must begin to consider how climate change will effect their operations.  The complexities that must be considered go far beyond the traditional considerations that resiliency planners are comfortable with.  Scientifically valid data is difficult to find and what data exists can be tainted by political bias.  This presents significant challenges to organizations working to craft strategies to mitigate climate change’s effects on their operations.

This paper will discuss the risk factors that all organizations must assess to ensure they are prepared for a changing climate.  We will explore existing data sources that can be used to inform the planning and decision-making processes involved with mitigating climate change-related risk. Finally this paper will propose a series of best practices that should be followed to minimize systemic risk and inform future decision-making regarding infrastructure investments and operational and organizational changes.

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