At its September meeting, the Strategic Planning and Policy Committee (SPPC) approved a scope of work pursuant to which the Exchange would assume management of a Great Lakes-based project known as Resilient Infrastructure for Sustainable Communities (RISC). Today, I want to say how excited we are to welcome the members of RISC into the fold and elaborate on what this means for the Exchange.
- What is RISC?
RISC is a network of municipal, state, federal, nonprofit, and private sector climate resilience leaders whose mission has much in common with that of the Exchange, i.e., to leverage a common network and shared experiences of municipal, state, and federal climate resilience leaders to scale up GSI in the Great Lakes Region so as to improve water quality, climate resilience, and socio-economic impacts. Among RISC’s members there are six jurisdictions (Chicago, Pittsburgh, Grand Rapids, Southfield, Milwaukee, Detroit) that are current members of the Exchange. There are also 15 local government members from the Great Lakes Region who are not current Exchange members, along with the EPA’s Environmental Finance Advisory Board, and a handful of private sector and nonprofit entities.
With support from the Great Lakes Protection Fund, RISC was founded in February 2020 by Sanjiv K. Sinha, Ph.D., CEO of Corvias Infrastructure Solutions, LLC (CIS). Over the past three years, it has grown to nearly thirty active members across the Great Lakes states and is credited with many state-of-the-art reports, along with two initiatives resulting in well over $100 million in impact investments in the region.
- Why Does Our Affiliation Make Sense?
Forming a “network of networks” is a strategy employed by effective social innovation networks to bring innovations to scale and expand impact. The Urban Sustainability Directors Network, for example, has a number of affiliated networks throughout the country where its members can turn for local support and cooperation. Beyond that, amidst increasing calls for regionalization of water systems and for watershed-scale planning to manage stormwater, it makes sense for the Exchange to develop a regional approach that will complement its national work.
- What Does This Mean for the Work of the Exchange?
With the support of the Great Lakes Protection Fund, the Exchange will open all of its Peer Learning Circles to RISC members, adding a new circle that will focus on the activities of RISC. While the details are yet to be determined, activities of the RISC Circle could include expanding the list of climate resiliency leaders in the Great Lakes Region who are interested in scaling up GSI; outreach/engagement to identify barriers and opportunities to scaling up GSI in the Great Lakes Region; and developing a strategic plan for RISC, including organizational development and programmatic strategies. RISC also has had its own, one-day annual meeting for the last several years and the Exchange will help to organize that going froward, in partnership with the Chicago-based Delta Institute. (I wrote about attending the 2023 Annual Meeting of RISC here).
- When Will the Transition Begin?
The Exchange will officially begin working with RISC on October 1. The first meeting of the RISC Peer Learning Circle will take place on December 6.