(Jan. 11, 2019) The Maryland Climate Leadership Academy, which began enrollment in September, is the nation’s first state-led program to provide training for state agencies, local governments and community leaders to develop strategies to address the impact of changes in the climate.
Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton, whose division is facilitating the undertaking, said in a press release the goal is to provide training to integrate climate change into community decision-making
“Maryland is well-equipped to continue to lead the country in driving creative, innovative and successful strategies aimed at addressing climate change-related impacts on our businesses, citizens and communities,” Belton said.
Maryland Natural Resources contracted with the Association of Climate Change Officers, a professional society and credentialing body, to establish the Maryland Climate Leadership Academy.
Daniel Kreeger, executive director of the Association of Climate Change Officers, said the intent is for government and community leaders to align efforts for addressing long-range impacts from climate change.
“This is kind of the frontier for what planners are going to need to be able to know and do in the future,” he said.
Unlike weather, which describes short term regional atmospheric conditions, climate involves long-term weather patterns and statistical data.
Kreeger said his organization has previously contracted with Maryland Natural Resources for comparable training within the department.
“It’s one thing … to train their own personnel … to build the competencies to effectively integrate climate change preparedness and an understanding of climate risk and opportunity into their planning activities,” he said. “It’s another when you’re trying to roll it out to other organizations [and] try to start making it available to key decision makers, planners and implementors across the state.”
To avoid information disconnect, Kreeger said the Maryland Climate Leadership Academy was formed in partnership with the Association of Climate Change.
“We serve as kind of the administrator and the architect of the academy,” he said. “We’ve established an advisory council around the academy consisting of state agency officials, local government leaders and national experts … to provide input as to what sorts of programs we should be developing and deploying.”
For the first iteration of training programs, a three-part series that started in November, Kreeger said the association employed existing educational curriculum.
“We administer the Certified Climate Change Professional credential,” he said. “The first cohorts that were established under this are training programs designed to prepare people to be able to satisfy [that] requirement.”
Bill Neville, Ocean City director of planning and community development, attended the climate academy’s initial meeting in late November at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills along with representatives from Worcester County, Town of Berlin, and the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.
“The information presented about climate science was useful, and the opportunity to share ideas and solutions with other community representatives on the Eastern Shore was beneficial, he said.
Looking forward, Kreeger said the climate academy will offer classes across the state, and will tailor them for each specific region.
Neville said the first session’s agenda, focused on climate change, sea level rise and strategies for coastal communities.
Additional information about the Maryland Climate Leadership Academy, including educational resources, is available at: MDClimateAcademy.org.