Air Date

July 26, 2023


Join us for the 13th Annual Building Resilience Conference

This year's event will bring together leaders dedicated to shaping the future of resilience through partnership and action.

In 2023 alone, the United States has already seen 12 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters. Disasters of all types, both novel and familiar, only continue to increase in frequency and intensity. Yet, many of the current systems in our communities are not equipped to handle these rising crises. 

Events like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 12th Annual Building Resilience Conference aim to forge partnerships and develop solutions before the critical day they are needed. During this year’s conference, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves shared his insights on the importance of implementing climate resiliency solutions in a keynote address.

Extreme Climate Crises Continue to Affect Communities

At the beginning of July, over nine inches of rainfall flooded cities in Vermont, shuttering businesses due to extensive damages. In June, smoke from Canadian wildfires blew across the United States, creating extremely hazardous air quality alerts. In Phoenix, record temperatures of over 115 degrees have been recorded, leading to overcrowded hospitals and dwindling resources.

“The last three years have observed disasters totaling $60 billion, costing over $450 billion in damage, and more than 1,400 deaths,” Graves said. “That's nothing to say of the burden extreme weather puts on our supply chains if shipments are delayed, as we've seen due to a hurricane or rails breaking down due to extreme heat, or flights being grounded because of unsafe weather conditions.”

Unsafe weather conditions are only just getting started, too, with the winter months bringing freezing temperatures and record snowfalls.

“Living in harm's way really necessitates our incorporation of climate resilience strategies into planning,” Graves said, “not just at the federal level, not just at the corporate level, but at every level across the United States — local, regional, state, federal — with individual businesses and organizations, and frankly, at the personal and family level.”

Implementing Collected Environmental Data Helps Create Economic Resilience

Given the massive effects weather has on the U.S. economy, organizations like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce have made efforts to leverage climate data to create a more resilient economy.

“NOAA has been a leader in designing user-friendly interactive tools,” Graves said. “The knowledge that we know can only be a powerful tool when we translate data [and] information into real action.”

NOAA has created the first-of-its-kind Climate Mapping for Resilience and Adaptation tool, which provides future climate projections and data that helps keep building codes up to date. The organization has also created, a resource for American businesses to find information about hot weather, and, the federal government’s official drought information website.

“[These tools] provide millions of people in businesses with the information, and importantly, the context that they need to make the most informed decisions possible to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their businesses,” Graves said.

A Commitment to Resilience Will Support Healthy Businesses

Going forward, NOAA continues to commit to climate resilience through a multitude of programs and efforts.

“Through the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make critical investments in climate resilience across the board,” Graves said.

Using those funds from the Inflation Reduction Act of over $6 billion, NOAA hopes to address climate risks such as flooding, fire, drought, extreme heat, and more. NOAA will also look to provide support to coastal communities that are most impacted by severe weather events with initiatives such as Climate-Ready Coasts

“Resilience isn't just a policy term that we throw around in government at the department. It's ingrained into everything that we do,” Graves concluded. “It's work that hopefully will help all of you and especially our communities and businesses to make the best and most informed decisions possible because … a resilient economy hinges on and in our future.”