Resilience Hubs

What are Resilience Hubs?

Resilience Hubs are physical spaces created to support communities in preparing for, mitigating, and adapting to climate change.

By building on existing community infrastructures, Resilience Hubs address climate change through intervening before, during, and after an extreme weather event. They can provide communication and education (before the event), shelter (during the event), and resources and services (after the event), all of which are helped by leveraging existing partnerships among community members. Resilience Hubs can reduce the burden on public infrastructures, increase capacity of existing community services, allow access to public health initiatives, and foster greater community cohesion and effectiveness of community institutions and programs.

Resilience Hubs:

  • Must be driven by and reflective of a community’s needs; no two Resilience Hubs are the same.
  • Can be a church, community center, library, recreation center, governmental building, school, or any existing building where people can congregate easily.

Key elements of Resilience Hubs

  1. Services and Programming
    • Can offer various social opportunities and services, dictated by community needs (such as: translation services, medical and psychological support, reuniting families, sharing information, help seeking government recovery assistance, child care, education, other programs or trainings).
    • Can offer services or events that support community health, including trauma and grief resources and programming.
    • Can provide resources needed before, during, and after extreme weather events, including shelter, food, water, medical supplies, internet, showers, and restrooms.
  2. Communications
    • Ability to communicate both within a Resilience Hub (internal capacity) and outside of the local area (external capacity) during and after a disruption or extreme weather event.
    • Access to technology and training. Examples include: Wifi; on-site walkie talkies or radios; off-site data storage; and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training.
  3. Building and Landscape
    • A resilient facility and measures to strengthen the facility’s resilience before, during, and after extreme weather events. This may include: identifying a building outside of a flood plain; floodproofing or windproofing; water storage. Building and landscape needs are dependent on geographical location and specific vulnerabilities.
  4. Power Systems
    • Self-sustaining power or energy systems capable of operating through an extended outage, such as back-up batteries, solar systems, or generators.
    • Can include multi-system power solutions, such as: a Hybrid Resilience System (HyRS).
  5. Operations
    • Measures to make sure that the facility and personnel can continue operating during normal mode (before a disruption or extreme weather event), disruption mode (during), and recovery mode (after). This includes training and support for personnel.

The history of Resilience Hubs in the climate crisis

The idea behind Resilience Hubs was first coined by Kristin Baja while she was working for the Office of Sustainability in Baltimore, Maryland. Baja first mentions Resilience Hubs in her article, Resilience Hubs: Shifting Power to Communities and Increasing Community Capacity (2018). Baja is the Director of Direct Support & Innovation at The Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), a peer-to-peer network of local government professionals representative of communities from the United States and Canada, which provides guidance, planning, and implementation resources to Resilience Hubs. With more than 185 members collaborating on a wide range of topics related to climate change, Resilience Hubs are one of several initiatives that USDN supports. Others include climate justice and equity labs and climate resilience training for local governments.

Resilience Hubs stem from the concept of resilience itself, which is “the ability to maintain or regain physical and psychological health in the face of adversity”. More specifically, climate resilience is “the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to the stresses caused by or worsened by our climate and ecological crisis”. The concept of community resilience describes a community’s ability to adapt its social, ecological, and built environments. Community resilience is central to Resilience Hubs, and to USDN’s definition of climate resilience:

“Climate Resilience is the ability of communities to anticipate, accommodate and positively adapt to or thrive amidst changing climate conditions or hazard events and to enhance quality of life, reliable systems, economic vitality, and conservation of resources for present and future generations.”

Guide to Developing Resilience Hubs, USDN

The COVID-19 pandemic is one example that can be seen through a lens of community resilience. Throughout the pandemic, some community centers were repurposed as hubs for public health services, like vaccination sites or food pantries. This illustrates how community centers can be adaptive to the needs of a community, and how community preparedness and social cohesion influence community resilience.

Resilience is a word that gets a lot of attention in climate change conversations. Because of the frequency and various interpretations of “resilience” across disciplines, it is noteworthy that USDN recognizes that “resilience differs by setting, facility and community”. The term Resilience Hub has also been used as part of the 27th and 28th annual United Nations Climate Change Conferences (COP27 and COP28). In this context, the term describes both virtual and physical spaces across the world, which aim to connect groups and mobilize action on climate resilience.

Examples of Resilience Hubs

While the concept and implementation of Resilience Hubs, as defined by the USDN, is most prominent in the continental United States, Hawaii, and Canada, similar programs exist around the globe. Here are some initiatives supporting Resilience Hubs, as well as specific Resilience Hubs, to learn from and inspire:

  • A three-year pilot program by the British Red Cross. This program will be community-led, and will offer opportunities for education and community building. It will also provide physical infrastructure spaces for supporting communities before, during, and after climate emergencies.

Sweltering Cities (Australia)

  • An organization which advocates for equitable solutions to heatwaves. In their Cool Safe Spaces report, which surveyed over 250 community members, they recommend to begin with supporting the most marginalized communities, who are also the most vulnerable to extreme heat. They further recommend establishing community response teams to help check in on residents’ health during a heatwave, and funding community centers, which can act as cooling centers during heatwaves.

Vibrant Hawai’i (Hawaii, United States)

  • A non-profit community organization which takes a “collaborative approach to build knowledge, skills, abilities, and confidence in residents to recognize, understand, and take action to address vulnerabilities, and increase resilience in their homes and communities”. It supports and connects over 35 Resilience Hubs across Hawai’i.
  • Maintains a “Resilience Alliance” of local businesses and non-governmental organizations invested in community preparedness and resilience. During an emergency, the alliance facilitates communication and resource distribution to the affected communities.
  • Uses Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) as a guide for community planning and applies an Assets Based Community Development (ABCD) framework to increase community self-determination. ABCD builds on community strengths and assets and brings together individuals, associations, and institutions to realize and develop their strengths.

North Kohala Community Center (Hawi, Hawaii, United States)

Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory (Los Angelos, California, United States)

  • In partnership with the non-profit Climate Resolve, the Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory is “a trusted space that displays both their deep-rooted culture and disaster preparedness”. With the technical support and guidance on resources and planning from Climate Resolve, the conservatory has invested in heating and cooling, back-up generators, and has been retro-fitted to sustain earthquakes.
  • The strength of the community’s diversity is evident in its ties to its indigenous people’s history, its connection to the arts and activism, and the communication and support already in place through the conservatory’s existing programming. The Resilience Hub provides language translation to English and Spanish.
  • Future plans include education around native plants and First Aid training for community members.

How do Resilience Hubs impact mental health and wellbeing?

Much research shows that community engagement leads to stronger social cohesion, which can minimize the negative mental health impacts of climate disasters. Community preparedness and climate mitigation actions could also be a way to increase feelings of agency and empowerment, and decrease feelings of climate anxiety. As of April 2024, there were no studies looking at direct correlations between mental health and Resilience Hubs (as defined in this entry). However, since Resilience Hubs are responses to community needs and driven by community participation, existing research suggests they could contribute to improving community mental health.

According to research by Thayanne Ciriaco and Stephen Wong (2022), only four of the Resilience Hubs they reviewed in North America offered mental health support programs. However, the Kohala Resilience Hub was not included in their review, a Resilience Hub which does in fact include mental health services as part of their planning. Because of the compounding and disproportionate effects of climate change and extreme weather on the mental health of already marginalized groups, mental health services should be at the forefront of Resilience Hub planning.

Equitable responses to climate change

Resilience Hubs were created out of the need to address historical and systemic inequities that have positioned Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and other historically marginalized groups at an extreme disadvantage in the face of the climate crisis. USDN’s white paper further states that “community-driven climate resilience is a process where community members most impacted by racism, classism, pollution, and political disenfranchisement hold power in the planning and implementation processes to ensure their priorities and concerns are integrated, prioritized, and addressed.

How can we create Resilience Hubs?

The many real-world examples of Resilience Hubs around the globe offer roadmaps and lessons for creating more. Consider these guides intended to help communities develop Resilience Hubs:

There are various challenges planners and communities may face in creating Resilience Hubs. These include:

Further reading


Climate Adaptation and Resilience Across Scales: From Buildings to Cities, edited by Nicholas B. Rajkovich and Seth H. Holmes, published in 2021 by Routledge.

Resilience Hubs: Shifting Power to Communities Through Action, by Kristin Baja, chapter in ‘Climate Adaptation and Resilience Across Scales’.

Articles and Online Sources

Community-driven Climate Resilience Planning: A Framework, published by National Association of Climate Resilience Planners (NACRP) in 2017 by Rosa Gonzalez, edited by Taj James and Jovida Ross.

Guide to Developing Resilience Hubs, published by Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) in 2019, by Kristin Baja.

Powering Community Resilience: A Framework for Optimizing Resilience Hub Power Systems: Project Report, prepared for Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN).

‘Resilience hubs’ forming around Baltimore, published in The Daily Record on January 21, 2022, by Colleen Curran and Maya Pottinger.

Resilience Hubs Initiative 2021 Overview, published by Norcal Resilience in 2021, by Susan Silber.

Resilience Hubs: Shifting Power to Communities and Increasing Community Capacity, published by Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) in 2018, by Kristin Baja.

Weathering Climate Disasters with Resilience Hubs, published by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) on October 26, 2022, by Bryn Grunwald, Mia Reback, and Ryan Warsing.

Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), published by Adaptation Clearinghouse.


Building Resilience Together (United Kindgom)

Communities Responding to Extreme Weather (CREW) (United States)

Georgetown Climate Center (Washington DC, United States)

Neighborhood Empowerment Network, The Hub Program (San Francisco, California, United States)

NorCal Resilience Network (Northern California, United States)

Urban Sustainability Directors Network (United States and Canada)

Sweltering Cities (Australia)


The Resilience Hub Series. Youtube series by the USDN on what Resilience Hubs are and examples in the United States.

Selected Research/Scientific Papers

Berberian, A. G., Gonzalez, D. J. X., & Cushing, L. J. (2022). Racial Disparities in Climate Change-Related Health Effects in the United States. Current environmental health reports9(3), 451–464.

Ciriaco, T. G. M., & Wong, S. D. (2022). Review of Resilience Hubs and associated transportation needs. Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives, 16, 100697.

de Roode, A. F., & Martinac, I. (2020). Resilience hubs: A Maui case study to inform strategies for upscaling to resilience hub networks across coastal, remote, and Island Communities. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 588(5), 052050.

Drolet, J. L. (2021). Societal adaptation to climate change. The Impacts of Climate Change, 365–377.

Fleming, M. D., Safaeinili, N., Knox, M., & Brewster, A. L. (2024). Organizational and community resilience for COVID-19 and beyond: Leveraging a system for health and social services integration. Health services research59 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), e14250.

Lawrence, E., Thompson, R., Fontana, G., Jennings, N. (2021). The impact of climate change on mental health and emotional wellbeing: current evidence and implications for policy and practice. Grantham Institute Briefing paper #36.

Moser, S., Meerow, S., Arnott, J., & Jack-Scott, E. (2019). The Turbulent World of Resilience: Interpretations and themes for transdisciplinary dialogue. Climatic Change, 153(1–2), 21–40.

Author and version info

Published: May 8, 2024

Author: Chelsea Rissner, LCSW

Editor: Colleen Rollins, PhD