UH, city, community groups to participate in Koʻolau Poko Resilience Review project

Last month, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa researchers participated in the kick-off meeting hosted by the Marine Corps Base Hawai‘i for the Ko‘olau Poko Resilience Review project, a community-focused analysis of the potential impacts of climate change on the physical, natural and man-made infrastructure of the Koʻolau Poko area, traditionally defined as the Windward Oʻahu region stretching between Kualoa and Waimānalo.

As part of the project, participants from the Koʻolau Poko area — including community-based organizations, neighborhood boards members, and representatives from the Honolulu City Council, state Legislature and other city, state, and federal agencies — will work to identify actions that can be taken to address those current and future climate-related risks.

The project is supported by a Department of Defense Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC) grant to the Mayor’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency (Resilience Office) and is being executed in partnership with the UH Mānoa’s Climate Resilience Collaborative (CRC).

Over the next 12 months of the project, new climate hazard and impact data will be used to help identify potential climate adaptation solutions for the Koʻolau Poko region. Climate adaptation means proactively preparing for and adapting to the impacts of our changing climate. The OLDCC program provides the opportunity for local governments and community to partner with local military installations in addressing resilience challenges and opportunities.

“Climate change has been experienced locally and is impacting our communities,” said Matthew Gonser, chief resilience officer and executive director of the Resilience Office. “We will only be successful in addressing increasing climate hazards if that success is shared across community and all levels of government.”

“We are grateful for the partnership opportunity this work provides,” said Colonel Jeremy Beaven, commanding officer of Marine Corps Base Hawai‘i. “As we continue to invest in our physical assets and military and civilian personnel, we also know that our mission and success are intricately connected with the resilience of our neighbors and the region.”

The effort is bolstered by two advisory groups guiding the progress of the project: a technical advisory group, composed of professional, cultural, and subject area experts, and a steering committee of community members and government officials and staff. The kickoff meeting on March 7 brought the groups together to learn from each other and about community concerns regarding climate change impacts in Koʻolau Poko.

“As global temperature continues to rise from our fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, it supercharges extreme weather events and drives unrelenting stresses from sea level rise and hotter ambient air temperature,” said Chip Fletcher, interim dean of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at UH Mānoa and director of the CRC. “All of these effects will require new and unique responses from our communities. The purpose of this meeting was to hear Ko‘olau Poko community concerns and fold them into developing resilience responses to build a safer tomorrow.”

Though this meeting officially launched the project, data and modeling efforts are already underway. UH CRC has been modeling the impacts of sea level rise in Koʻolau Poko and will incorporate further project data into the SOEST Climate Viewer as the project progresses.

This project works to implement, in part, the City’s recently adopted climate adaptation strategy, Climate Ready O‘ahu, and supports the update — currently in progress — of both the City’s Local Hazard Mitigation Plan, led by the Department of Emergency Management, and the Ko‘olau Poko Sustainable Communities Plan, led by the Department of Planning and Permitting.

Additional project support is provided by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to the UH Mānoa CRC.

Read also on City and County of Honolulu and UH News.