In collaboration with the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO), CPO’s Communication, Education, and Engagement (CEE) Division is building capacity at the community level, most recently through new partnerships in Michigan and Pennsylvania, to help state, county, and city officials effectively plan for and take action on climate change and its impacts on health, security, and economic vitality.
About 5 years ago, the CEE Division entered into a partnership with ACCO, a non-profit professional development organization for people addressing climate change in their organization’s operations and mission. CEE personnel assisted ACCO in the development of several climate science courses in its curriculum and has been regularly teaching ACCO courses for participants across the nation and internationally. The relationship between CEE and ACCO is symbiotic in that it offers CEE many opportunities to also carry out its missions of building public climate literacy and promoting awareness and use of NOAA’s tools and information in applied contexts for societal benefit (including, but not limited to the Climate Resilience Toolkit, Drought.gov, the Water Resources Dashboard, Digital Coast, Climate at a Glance, etc.).
This year, ACCO has seen dramatic growth in consumption of its education and training programs. Its YouTube dashboard reports that ACCO’s recorded courses have already been watched more than 3,200 times this year, which is a 500% increase over 2019. Additionally, ACCO’s live training for the Certified Climate Change Professional (CC-P) credential shifted from in-person to online delivery, but the result was an increase in enrollment from approximately 150 people served in 2019 to nearly 400 people in 2020. By the year’s end, ACCO will have awarded more than 120 CC-P credentials, which doubles 2018 and 2019 combined, and there are more than 300 professionals now in the testing pipeline. CPO’s own Jennifer Dopkowski has earned the CC-P credential.
In addition to the increase in individuals’ and organizations’ participation in ACCO’s training, several state and local government organizations have adopted and encouraged widespread ACCO training across their states. The Maryland Climate Leadership Academy (launched in 2018) has placed more than 800 professionals into ACCO training programs since its launch (more than half of whom are state/local employees and officials). Governor Hogan recognized 40 CCP-s earlier this year at a televised Board of Public Works meeting, and the state has formally endorsed the CC-P credential so that recipients are receiving certificates signed by Governor Hogan and ACCO’s executive director. Even Standard & Poor’s cited the ACCO training and the large staff contingent from Charles County (MD) as evidence of the county’s “very strong management” and used it as a justification for giving the county a AAA rating affirmation (see this video of Maryland Treasurer Nancy Kopp talking about the importance of this development).
The model ACCO has developed with Maryland is growing. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP), Michigan Department of Energy, Great Lakes and the Environment (EGLE), and Montgomery County (MD) have all contracted with ACCO this year to train their personnel. This has led to the development and deployment of ACCO training specifically designed for elected/appointed officials in state and local governments, which CEE supports. That primer program has already been provided to more than 400 individuals in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the New England states.
CEE has also been supporting ACCO in the development of a new study guide for CC-P candidates. This stand-alone booklet is being reviewed by a volunteer editorial board that includes NOAA and other Federal agency personnel. For example, CEE’s Ned Gardiner has been a big part of the team that is developing the language that reflects how we will standardize vulnerability assessment practices. Given the increasing adoption of these training programs, CEE and ACCO hope and anticipate that this work will help scale up and accelerate the pace of climate adaptation and mitigation activities all across the nation.