Expert Views: A Conversation with Gina Lavery on the Climate Resilience Index

In celebration of the release of the Climate Resilience Index our team has produced, I interviewed Gina Lavery, Senior Vice President and Principal of Econsult Solutions and head of ESI Center for the Future of Cities, to discuss this innovative resource and the intention behind it.

As the impacts of climate change become more apparent in everyday life, the need for cities to comprehensively understand the environmental risks and economic challenges they face will be a top priority for those regions that wish to maintain quality of life and regional competitiveness. Gina and the team behind the Climate Resilience Index have been exploring how to develop a standardized framework that could help communities assess these risks and to examine initiatives that create more resilient, sustainable, and thriving communities.

Where did the idea for the Climate Resilience Index come from?

Gina Lavery, Head of ESI Center for the Future of Cities

Climate change is an existential threat to our way of life. Without an understanding of what’s at stake, how it will affect citizens, and reshape our built environment, communities risk falling into a dangerous place where they are economically challenged and no longer desirable places to live or establish businesses –relegated to a cycle of underperformance and hazard.

Our goal at ESI Center for the Future of Cities is simple; help communities of all sizes build on their current efforts in a way that makes them more competitive and desirable for citizens.

The Climate Resilience Index is just one part of an ongoing conversation on how to shape a more sustainable and enduring future for cities as populations continue to shift toward more urbanized areas.

The cities featured in the Index include Baltimore, Charleston, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis, to name a few. How did the team decide on reviewing these locations?

We’re deeply passionate about cities here at ESI. We have traditionally been focused on the economic and social impacts at play through the services we provide, but over the past few years, have started to layer more environmental elements into our portfolio of research. The nine American cities included in the index represent a diverse range of geographies, growth patterns, and challenges posed.

Naturally, there are limitations in selecting just nine cities to fully understand the current landscape in America as it relates to resilience measures. However, we hope that the methodology produced can be applied beyond what we have presented in this iteration of the index. Our hope is to provide insights to help leaders both nationally and internationally recognize ways to improve the economic vitality of the places they govern.

What should policymakers and civic leaders take away from the Index?

Climate change is here, and it is one of the biggest challenges any generation will face. Today’s leaders need to be informed on the full complexities of this issue from an economic, social, and environmental standpoint. And they need to be decisive in creating a long-term vision that’s forward thinking, collaborative, and sustainable. This Index hopefully provides some ideas of replicable models that are currently being used across the U.S. We’re proud of what our Center for the Future of Cities Fellows developed with this resource and look forward to being part of opportunities that build off this research.

I would also like to give special thanks to our 2023 Summer Fellows, Samriddhi Khare and Patrick Darcy, for supporting the production of this body of work and providing our audience with updates along the way. You can learn more about Sam and Patrick by reading:

Building Climate Resilience: Developing an Index for Nine U.S. Cities

Building Climate Resilience: An Update on our Methodology

ESI’s Climate Resilience: Final Update and Future Implications


The research in the Climate Resilience Index builds on the database of indices and metrics that ESI has amassed to evaluate and address the ever-changing nature of climate risks and the evolving needs of cities in their quest for climate resilience. It provides a holistic method for evaluating climate resiliency based on a wide spectrum of environmental, economic, infrastructure, and social metrics, allowing for a standardized assessment of a city’s preparedness and capacity to withstand climate-related challenges. To access the full Climate Resilience Index, please click here.


This content is part of Econsult Solutions’ thought leadership initiative, ESI Center for the Future of Cities, which brings together experts in urban economics, policy, and strategy to craft new evidence-based research on the most important issues facing cities around the world, and to provide consulting services for public and private sector organizations working in urban settings.


Mike Daly, Business Development Manager | [email protected]

Mike Daly is a business development manager at ESI, where he oversees the business development and marketing team. He is responsible for enhancing the firm’s brand and work through traditional and social media, producing content for the company website, managing the firm’s blog, Present Value, and supporting the development of strategic initiatives. Prior to joining the firm, Mike was a marketing associate for the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, a membership organization whose mission is to build a just, green, and thriving economy in the Greater Philadelphia region.

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