Enter the Climate & Equity Challenge

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At CNU 30 in Oklahoma City, New Urbanists launched the Climate and Equity Challenge to engage all our members, chapters, affiliates and allies to meet the most pressing issues of our time: the climate emergency and the equity imperative.

It has long been clear that the dominant pattern of wasteful, sprawling land development and building is an economic, environmental, and social catastrophe. There is an alternative – one that offers our best hope for both mitigating and adapting to climate change and promoting racial and social equity.

Drawing on our movement’s tradition of excellence in community design and (re)development, the Congress for the New Urbanism is uniquely positioned to shape the way we adapt to climate change and build in equitable outcomes.

CNU is issuing our first ever Climate and Equity Challenge to focus our movement’s work on researching and creating models, policies, coalitions, partnerships and projects that address the gravity and urgency of the need for climate change adaptation.

What is the Challenge?

The Climate and Equity Challenge asks the question: what should we be doing now to shape the built environment in ways that design for climate change adaptation in an equitable manner? 

We are calling on CNU’s robust network of members, Chapters, and allies to think about your local communities and envision what climate change adaptation could look like through an equity lens. Examples of Challenge projects include:

  • Creating a product or guide that helps a local community implement adaptation design
  • Hosting a charette in a local community to solicit potential issues and solutions
  • Hosting a walking tour with a local community to identify potential issues and solutions
  • Mini climate summit 
  • Tactical Urbanism project
  • Designing a potential project with local community members
  • Partnership with a local business, design firm, architect, etc. to create a demonstration project or event

Once a project answering the Challenge call has been submitted it will be evaluated by a panel of judges based on the criteria listed below. Selected projects will then be invited to share their work at CNU 31.Charlotte taking place on May 31 - June 3, 2023. This will allow participants to share their local level work, connect with fellow Challenge participants, and receive recognition and amplification on a national scale. 

Selected projects will also be included in a resources database, featured in an article on Public Square, and will get the support of CNU if they continue the project after CNU 31.

How to Participate

Interested parties should confirm their participation in the Challenge by entering their information in this form no later than February 28, 2023. Please note, the earlier you register your group, the more access to CNU support your group can receive. 

The form will ask interested groups to provide the following information:

  • Group contact information
  • Local community location
  • Brief description of the adaptation challenge 
    • Identifying a specific issue that will be addressed by a project
    • Giving a reason for why adaptation design should be explored in a community
  • Brief description of how equity will be a component of the project
  • Proposed final product type

Key Dates

  • January 2023: Challenge Issued
  • February 2023: Challenge Participation Confirmation
  • March 2023: Continued Support from CNU
  • April 17, 2023: Final Challenge Entries Due
  • Week of May 1, 2023: Selected Entries Notified
  • May 31 - June 3, 2023: Selected Project Presentations at CNU 31

Challenge Judging

Final products submitted to the Challenge jury should have the following attributes:

  • Issue identification: identifies the potential climate change adaptation problem and potential solution in detail. States the goals for accomplishing the challenge.
  • Community focus: clearly approaches the issue through an equity lens with details and designs relevant/beneficial to the local community.
  • Local participation: engages with the community in a variety of ways that allows for local participation, input, and insight from a variety of groups. 
  • Project strength: the overall design/impact of the project is clearly beneficial to the community and can be used as a building block for future action.
  • Climate design: project engages thoughtfully with the issues of adaptation design in a local context. 
  • Equity: equity is a central component of the project and acknowledges the local context in ways that encourage bottom up participation.
  • Usefulness and repeatability: records and demonstrates the entire process in such great clarity and detail that another community could recreate the project.
  • Optional. Corridors: the theme of CNU 31 is corridors and entries are encouraged to address a local corridor in their design.

CNU Support

CNU will be a convener and resource provider as a leader in the climate adaptation design space. In addition to our local implementation guide and media toolkit, CNU will also be on hand to assist with any questions or guidance during the months of the Challenge. CNU will also support selected Challenge entrants with presenting at CNU 31 and will help support all entrants if they continue their work after the Congress.