9: Professional Development Opportunities

There are several professional development opportunities throughout the state and region. Each training is geared toward a specific skill, process, tool, or resource. The Climate Change Adaptation Provider’s (CCAP) Network website compiles opportunities on its peer-to-peer connection webpage. The other opportunities listed in this section offer training courses at different intervals, some quarterly, while others are annual opportunities. Many of these offerings are low or no cost to participants. The regional planning organization listed in Section 8.1 may also be able to provide information on other training opportunities. In addition to training, there are workshops and professional associations that offer development and networking opportunities.

Why is it important to invest in professional development?

  • Provide leadership to increase staff capacities and capabilities to obtain the knowledge and skills needed to respond to adaptation needs.
  • The absence, or limited capacity, of adaptation experts across society, and particularly in municipalities, can impede participation in existing programs and integrating adaptation concepts into processes and decision-making.
  • Investing in staff professional development for knowledge and skill building to address challenges of limited capacity or expertise.
  • Creating peer-to-peer training opportunities for knowledge-sharing.

9.1 Ongoing Training

9.1.1 Community Resilience Informed by Science and Experience (C-RISE)

Coastal rural communities have deep cultural connections to and rely heavily upon the marine environment and economy. Due to their remoteness, isolation from central planning agencies, and lack of financial and municipal resources, they are highly vulnerable to climate impacts such as sea level rise. The Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) and key project partners, Upswell and the Island Institute, will develop, convene, and facilitate community resilience trainings by which Maine’s rural coastal communities can increase their capacity to plan and prepare for coastal climate impacts by developing the knowledge, skills, and relationships necessary to create data- and community-informed climate resilience plans. These trainings engage resilience professionals in Maine to share and represent their resources as communities apply those to their newly acquired skills and frameworks for community planning and decision-making. Community leaders from the regional trainings will continue their learning through participation in a professional learning community. Community resilience trainings will build climate literacy and capacity for developing coastal resilience plans that benefit the social, environmental, and economic health of the community and align with Maine’s Climate Action Plan.

The development and implementation of this project is guided by an advisory group that includes representatives from NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, Maine Sea Grant, Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, the State of Maine’s Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, Maine Geological Survey, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the Town of Vinalhaven, and the Town of St. George. Researchers at the University of Maine, Orono are serving as project evaluators.

9.1.2 Coastal Training Program (CTP)

The Coastal Training Program (Wells Reserve at Laudholm) provides science-based information, tools, and skills for better managing coastal resources. The CTP is managed by Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, and offers technical assistance, training, and workshops. Their primary audiences are municipalities (staff, boards, committees), land trusts and property owners, state and federal agencies, public utilities (water, sewer, energy), as well as developers and contractors.

9.1.3 Casco Bay Coastal Academy

Casco Bay Coastal Academy (Casco Bay Estuary Partnership) is a quarterly workshop series aimed at building the knowledge base of municipal board members about critical coastal issues and providing skills training to support their project planning and implementation. Casco Bay Academy is offered through a partnership between Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, the New England Finance Center, and Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District.

9.1.4 Climate Resilience Funding Workshop Series

The New England Finance Center organized a series of workshops in 2020 focused on crafting successful proposals toward sustainable financing of climate resilience and stormwater-related projects. This series offered knowledge sharing, idea exchange, and real-world advice and inspiration. Participants were led through successive sessions that built upon one another, from understanding what grant agencies look for in their applications, to beginning the process of establishing sustainable financing sources. Workshop presentations and a Community Funding Guidance Series are posted on the New England Environmental Finance Center webpage: Climate Resilience Funding Workshop Series. Check the webpage for future training opportunities.

9.1.5 Island Institute’s Trainings and Events

The Island Institute hosts a number of events, workshops, and conferences throughout the year for community leaders, small businesses, educators, artists, fishermen, and coastal residents to increase resilient leadership in their communities.

9.1.6 Facilitation Training

Maine Sea Grant offers customized facilitation training for organizations whose mission aligns with theirs. For more information, visit their Sea Grant Facilitation Skills Training page. Good Group Decisions in Brunswick, Maine offers meeting facilitation training, amongst other training seminars. For more information, visit the Craig Freshley’s Trainings on How to Get Along page on their site.

9.1.7 Wabanaki Reach Workshops

Wabanaki Reach is a nonprofit organization with the following mission: “We support the self-determination of Wabanaki people through education, truth-telling, restorative justice, and restorative practices in Wabanaki and Maine communities. We design our structures and processes to be responsive to Wabanaki communities and beneficial to Wabanaki people.”

They convene Wabanaki Reach Workshops, which provide an opportunity to reflect on histories of colonization and ways to transform injustices that Wabanaki Tribes continue to face and resist. These workshops are designed for non-Native people and include a brief history of the U.S. government’s relationship with Native people, awareness of white privilege, and an introduction to decolonization.

9.1.8 U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit Training Guides

In October 2022, NOAA and partners released Implementing the Steps to Resilience: A Practitioner’s Guide (NOAA) (PDF), a handbook for national climate resilience. The book, with accompanying online resources, is designed to help climate adaptation practitioners work with local governments and community organizations to incorporate climate risk into equitable, long-term decision-making. With this user-friendly guide, resilience and adaptation professionals can learn how to implement the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit’s Steps to Resilience page.

All five of the guides are available for free in the NOAA Institutional Repository:

9.2 Conferences and Symposia

There are many conferences in Maine, New England, and throughout the United States on climate adaptation and related topics. This section describes a sample of relevant and ongoing conferences that provide opportunities for learning, networking, and sharing your local projects.

9.2.2 Maine Climate Council Conference

Governor Mills and the Maine Climate Council invited city, town, and Tribal leaders, and interested community members, to a day-long climate conference with useful tools, resources, and how-to case studies for communities across Maine.

The first Climate Council Conference was held June 17, 2022, at the Augusta Civic Center as a Day of Inspiration, Collaboration, & Action (Maine.gov).

9.2.3 Maine Sustainability & Water Conference

The Maine Sustainability & Water Conference provides an annual forum where professionals, researchers, consultants, citizens, students, regulators, and planners gather to exchange information and present new findings on sustainability and water resource issues in Maine.

Launched in 1994 by the University of Maine’s Senator George J. Mitchell Center with a primary focus on the future of Maine’s water resources, the conference has grown to incorporate topics related to many of the sustainability challenges facing Maine, including issues related to climate change, energy futures, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism, and municipal planning. The conference attracts a broad audience of close to 400 participants from across the state.

The conference is typically held at the end of March. More information is available on the Maine Water Conference page (UMaine’s Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions).

9.2.4 Beaches Conference

The Beaches Conference (Maine Sea Grant) works to provide continuing opportunities for the exchange of the most current information among beach and coastal stakeholders with diverse interests to facilitate informed decision-making, as well as celebrating beach monitoring and stewardship, building strong partnerships, and taking informed action on coastal issues. The conference is held every other year, typically during the month of June in southern Maine.

9.2.5 Maine Partners in Emergency Preparedness Conference

The Maine Emergency Management Administration sponsors this conference, along with the State Emergency Response Commission and the Maine Association of Local Emergency Managers (MALEM). More information is available on the Maine Partners in Emergency Preparedness Conference page (Maine.gov, Maine Emergency Management Administration).

9.2.6 Local Solutions Conferences

Antioch’s Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience (AU|CCPCR) partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) to convene three biennial Local Solutions climate preparedness conferences. The conferences were held in 2016, 2018 and 2021. More information from these conferences is available on the Local Solutions Conferences page (AU|CCPCR).

9.2.7 Maine Fishermen’s Forum

Founded in 1976, the mission of the Maine Fishermen’s Forum is to provide opportunities on a continuous basis to educate the public and the fishing industry about fisheries and marine resource issues, and to provide a neutral platform for constructive discussion and decision-making. The Forum is held annually, always on the first weekend in March at the Samoset Resort in Rockport. The Forum is a three-day event that includes a trade show, concurrent seminars, receptions that feature local fish, and a fundraising auction. The first day of the Forum is dedicated to Shellfish Focus Day, which is hosted by the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) and the Shellfish Advisory Council. The following two days focus on a variety of state and federal fisheries research, conservation, and management topics, in addition to safety training and cooking demonstrations. More information is available on the Maine Fishermen’s Forum website.

9.2.8 National Adaptation Forum

The National Adaptation Forum is a gathering of adaptation professionals to innovate, network, and focus on established and emerging climate adaptation issues.

There are in-person events as well as online content. The virtual Forum provides a space for the adaptation community to share best practices, learn new skills and ideas, and build networks in the time between their in-person meetings. The Forum includes opportunities for professional development through formal training sessions, facilitated practitioner presentations, and informal exchange of information in the form of in-person gatherings and online.

The goals of the National Adaptation Forum are:

  • Provide a professional development opportunity for adaptation practitioners
  • Contribute to the development of a community of practice around climate adaptation
  • Create a space for practitioners to share information, progress, and strategy, building the capacity of the community as a whole and the individual
  • Support on-the-ground implementation by providing practitioners with a community to exchange knowledge of and tools for incorporating climate adaptation into their work

9.3 Professional Associations and Networks

There are a number of professional associations and networks focusing on climate adaptation and resilience. Each organization has unique offerings, including professional certifications, training, resource libraries, and meetings. This section provides an overview of the leading organizations in the region, Country, and internationally.

9.3.2 New England Municipal Sustainability Network

The New England Municipal Sustainability (NEMS) Network is a consortium of New England cities and towns that collaborate to build more sustainable communities consistent with the goals of the Global Covenant of Mayors. Their vision is to create a sustainable New England by building strong connections among municipal sustainability professionals throughout the region, allowing members to accomplish more than would be possible alone.

The NEMS Network consists of municipal sustainability professionals who advance mutually beneficial sustainability goals in the region through collaboration and information sharing. The NEMS Network is a recognized member of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network. The University of New Hampshire Sustainability Institute serves as the backbone organization for the NEMS Network. More information is available on the New England Municipal Sustainability Network website.

9.3.3 Association of Climate Change Officers

The Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO) is a professional development organization and cross-sector community of practice for individuals addressing climate change in their organization’s operations and mission. ACCO membership fosters collaboration with leading-edge practitioners, policymakers, climate scientists, and researchers to advance solutions and build capacity in addressing climate change.

ACCO offers professional development, networking, leadership development, and a credential as a Certified Climate Change professional. More information is available on the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO) website.

9.3.4 American Society of Adaptation Professionals

The American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP) supports and connects professionals to better prepare for climate change. ASAP helps members strengthen their professional network, exchange best practices, and practical advice, and accelerate innovation-all leading to a more equitable and effective climate adaptation practice. More information is available on the American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP) website.

Example resources from ASAP:

  • Living Guide to the Principles of Climate Change Adaptation – a synthesis of existing and aspirational principles of effective adaptation practice. The content draws on a variety of field-spanning white and grey literature describing adaptation practice, as well as ASAP member and adaptation community reflections on the state of the field.
  • Knowledge & Competencies Framework for Climate Change Adaptation and Climate Resilience Professionals – articulates a holistic set of foundational knowledge concepts and core competencies that are necessary for all climate change adaptation and climate resilience professionals. ASAP uses the Framework to guide and assess members’ and partners’ climate change adaptation and climate resilience education programs.
  • ASAP Code of Conduct and Professional Ethics – the values, beliefs, principles, and guidelines climate change adaptation and climate resilience professionals should adhere to ensure ethical and effective practice. Individuals sign onto the Code of Ethics when they become ASAP members.

9.3.5 International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives

Local Governments for Sustainability (or ICLEI) is a global network of more than 2500 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development. They are active in more than 125 countries and influence sustainability policy and drive local action for low-emission, nature-based, equitable, resilient, and circular development. Their members and team of experts work together through peer exchange, partnerships, and capacity building to create systemic change for urban sustainability.

ICLEI makes sustainability an integral part of urban development and creates systemic change in urban areas through practical, integrated solutions. They help cities, towns, and regions anticipate and respond to complex challenges, from rapid urbanization and climate change to ecosystem degradation and inequity.

The local and regional governments in the ICLEI network confront these challenges by incorporating sustainability into day-to-day operations and policy. ICLEI invests in the capacity and knowledge needed to design solutions and make decisions informed by data, scientific evidence, and local realities and pressures. More information is available on the Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) website.

9.3.6 International Society of Sustainability Professionals

The International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) is the world’s leading professional association of sustainability professionals. ISSP works to make sustainability standard practice through empowering professionals to advance sustainability in organizations and communities around the globe. As a professional association, ISSP improves the skills of sustainability practitioners through ISSP Sustainability Professional Certification, education, knowledge sharing, research, and professional credentials. More information is available on the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) website.

9.3.7 Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy

The Global Covenant of Mayors envisions a world where committed mayors and local governments – in alliance with partners – accelerate, ambitious, measurable climate and energy initiatives that lead to a low-emission and climate-resilient future. They support ambitious, locally relevant solutions in sectors where cities can have the most significant impact. These cities register, implement, and monitor their strategic action plans and make information on their efforts and results publicly available. More information is available on the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy website.

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