Climate Change

Climate change is here.

The informed conversation on climate change has now shifted to determining the most successful strategies that at-risk communities, businesses, municipalities, and entire regions can take to adapt to and prepare for this growing threat.

Openlands focuses on solutions to the climate crisis that utilize nature to mitigate or even turn back the clock on the changes and impacts expected for our region. The landscapes of the Midwest are well equipped to meet this challenge: the Great Lakes and the region’s large rivers form the backbone of a natural areas system that allow many forms of wildlife to migrate north as average temperatures rise. Vast prairies and farmland cover the land with plants and vegetation that absorbs carbon dioxide, putting carbon back in the ground. Healthy natural areas and wetlands hold large volumes of rainwater that increasing falls as sporadic, large deluges. And the woodlands and urban forests absorb carbon from the atmosphere, remove air pollution, and measurably cool off urban areas.

The Chicago region has an opportunity to pioneer solutions based in nature that can dramatically reduce our carbon footprint and positively impact the climate. We have resilient landscapes and the knowledge, but we need visions, imagination, and leadership to address this crisis not just today, but over the next 10 years and through the century.


Climate Change in the Chicago Region

In her keynote address at the Openlands 2018 Annual Luncheon, Dr. Ingrid Burke, Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, explains how the effects of climate change will accelerate as urbanization continues across the globe, but holds Chicago as an example of the smart, sustainable urban growth needed for regions to remain resilient.

“When we engage in conservation, we not only improve human health, but we engage in carbon sequestration, we mitigate heat islands, and we mitigate floods.” — Dr. Ingrid Burke


Since 1963 Openlands has steered our region towards sustainability and now we are committed to guiding our region through climate change. The resources included here highlight solutions our region should be implementing immediately and offer actions you can take right now to support climate action.

What You Can Do to Help

Climate science can be cumbersome and reading news reports no doubt will lead to some anxiety for many of us. But we want to prepare you with information and opportunities advocate for climate action right now.

Nature-Based Solutions

Nature-based solutions to climate change are cost-effective models that simultaneously provide environmental, societal, and economic benefits and help build climate resilience.