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Meridian Institute

Sustainability and Resilience

Sustainability is, in its most basic sense, the ability to survive in perpetuity. People often refer to the sustainability of ecosystems, of institutions, and of human communities. In the case of institutions and communities, sustainability is often said to include environmental, economic, and societal aspects. That is, to survive in perpetuity, organizations and communities must ensure environmental health, economic prosperity, and social well-being. Resilience is a related concept—the ability of ecosystems, organizations, and human communities to respond effectively to change or even calamity.

Meridian Institute professionals have worked on a wide range of projects relating to sustainability and resilience. Some have involved working with leaders and employees within a single organization—public, private, or nonprofit—to develop a sustainable vision for the future and strategic action steps to get there.

Others have involved facilitating discussions among residents of a given community—each with their own set of interests—on plans to build and improve resilience to natural and man-made disasters. We have also convened dialogues at the national and international levels, with a wide array of decision makers and stakeholders, to address the issue of global sustainability in its broadest sense.

No matter the venue, Meridian professionals work to see that all relevant voices are included and respected in these discussions, that the right process design and substantive information are brought to bear, and that all aspects of sustainability and resilience are taken into consideration.

    • US Green Building Council
    • For the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), Meridian conducted an issue-mapping process to assess the external environment in which USGBC operates, analyzed and summarized the results of that effort, facilitated a board/management team retreat, drafted and finalized a strategic plan, and supported the implementation of the plan and key strategic goals.
    • U.S. EPA Water Utility Sector Resilience Planning Workshops
    • Meridian Institute provided general facilitation support to plan and deliver a series of four resilience planning workshops in 2017 for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater utility managers. The workshops were designed for participants to learn about how extreme weather events could impact water utilities in different regions and to explore adaptation and resilience-building strategies that can reduce long-term risk to water infrastructure and resources from extreme events. Participants also identified key questions about water infrastructure vulnerabilities to address within their respective utilities or communities and learned about strategies for making the business case for investing in resilience. The workshops were held in Seattle, Washington; Lenexa, Kansas; Dallas, Texas; and Charleston, South Carolina. Meridian worked in collaboration with The Cadmus Group, and the workshop series was sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Creating Resilient Utilities Initiative.


    • Building Resilience to a Changing Climate: A Technical Training in Water Sector Utility Decision Support
    • Meridian facilitated the planning and delivery of a technical training for drinking water and wastewater utility managers and consultants, in collaboration with the Water Utility Climate Alliance, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Creating Resilient Utilities Initiative, and other water sector partners. Guided by a dynamic agenda and expert trainers, participants gained useful knowledge and practical skills for integrating climate science into all aspects of water sector utility capital planning and business processes, as well as communication skills for relaying this information to decision makers and other audiences. Held September 26–27, 2017, in Boulder, Colorado, the training focused on three important dimensions of building the resilience of water sector utilities: (1) the fundamentals of climate science, including sources of uncertainty to consider in long-term planning; (2) methods for adopting planning approaches for making adaption decisions in the face of uncertainties about how the climate will change; and (3) communications best practices for building a business case for climate resilience.