SUFC Panel Discussion: “Dialogue on Federal to Local Action in Nature-Deprived Communities”

On October 17, 2023, at the 2nd World Forum on Urban Forests (WFUF), SUFC hosted a panel discussion with federal agency representatives from the Department of Transportation (DOT), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). The goal of convening the panel was to foster collaboration and connect local authorities to national frameworks and tools. Strengthening partnerships across all levels of government is critical to promoting increased green and blue infrastructure in nature-deprived communities.

SUFC Chair Rachel Holmes welcomed those in attendance and introduced CEQ’s Deputy Director for Forests and Equity Nausheen Iqbal, who moderated the conversation. Iqbal called to employ “consistent language” at local, state, and national levels in helping nature-deprived communities. She posed a series of questions to DOT’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Ann Shikany, HUD’s Senior Advisor on Climate Alexis Pelosi, and FEMA’s Chief of Community Infrastructure Resilience Branch Samuel Capasso. Below is a list of each agency’s available resources.



  • Community Resilience Toolkit
    • Guides for preventing and boosting resilience to six natural hazards: extreme heat, coastal flooding, inland flooding, wildfire, drought, erosion and landslides
    • Each guide, or factsheet, is divided into four categories (planning, buildings and infrastructure, environment, and people) with ideas to, for example, enhance policy, install irrigation systems, plant more heat-tolerant vegetation, and create equitable access to education opportunities.
  • HUD Exchange
    • Collection of resources for communities seeking technical assistance
      • Economic Recovery and Resilience, Community Engagement Toolkit, Disease Risks and Homelessness, ConnectHome USA Case Studies


An audience-driven Q&A session allowed for reflections and further clarifications from U.S. and international attendees. This included further discussion of the Justice40 Initiative, created by the president’s administration. It confirms that at least 40% of federal grants and investments for green energy and climate go directly to nature-deprived communities. Local leaders should speak out in the event funds are not allocated justly.

SUFC Vice Chair Keith Wood concluded the gathering by thanking the representatives on the panel and encouraging an ongoing dialogue.