Chancellor Rebecca Blank announced that the University of Wisconsin would be signing the Resilience Commitment administered by Massachusetts-based nonprofit, Second Nature, at the Climate Fast Forward Conference last Friday.
UW Director of Sustainability Missy Nergard, said Second Nature has three commitments: a climate commitment, a carbon commitment and the resilience commitment. Nergard said the resilience commitment focuses on creating long term solutions to the problems caused by climate change.
“What the resilience commitment does is really speak to the Wisconsin Idea,” Nergard said. “It’s really working in collaboration with our county in our region to develop solutions for the long term infrastructure and public health resiliency of not just the campus, but of the community.”
Nergard said the commitment gives UW the opportunity to plan for the impacts of climate change that are beyond mitigation, such as flooding, higher humidity levels, a heavier snow load and higher precipitation events.
Nergard said through this commitment, UW and the surrounding Madison community can “mitigate some of the future costs, and the future heartache that comes from some of these natural disasters.”
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Nergard said when she was hired she noticed that UW was behind on the national stage, specifically when it came to the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System report.
UW announced its silver STARS rating in October, which was UW’s first time participating in the STARS reporting. Nergard said the new commitment will help UW hold itself to its own standard.
“It’s just taking a step back and realizing that this is who we are and we need to be able to actually measure that we’re doing what you would think we’ve been doing for the last couple of decades,” Nergard said.
The commitment requires UW to have a structure in place in the next two months, which Nergard said is already getting started. Nergard said UW is forming a committee, which will be called the Resilience and Stewardship Committee.
UW will later need to come up with a Climate Action Plan, which Nergard said would need to be finalized in the next few years.
Nergard said it is important that UW is looking out for its surrounding community and that this commitment will strengthen UW’s ability to do so.
“I think that is just one of the neat niches that we have is how concerned and compassionate and pragmatic we are about taking these solutions and making them available to our community,” Nergard said.