David Behar is the Climate Program Director at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission with a focus on adaptation practice, science translation, and collaboration building. The SFPUC, a department of the City and County of San Francisco, delivers drinking water to 2.7 million Bay Area residents, generates hydroelectric power, and manages wastewater and stormwater facilities in San Francisco. Since 2007, Mr. Behar has helped pioneer consideration of climate change in planning at a local, state, and federal level, specializing in the careful use of science in the adaptation planning process. His work frequently seeks to bridge the respective cultures and communities between science and society and he has co-authored work explicating this mandate in peer reviewed publications.
Within the practitioner community, Mr. Behar focuses on building collaborative infrastructure to benchmark action across the new field of climate change adaptation, develop leading practices, and translate climate science for use in the planning environment. He co-founded the Water Utility Climate Alliance and served as first chair from 2007-11. In 2013-14 he chaired San Francisco’s first Sea Level Rise Committee, which created “Guidance for Incorporating Sea Level Rise into Capital Planning,” adopted as City policy in 2014. For that effort, he led research into the nature of sea level rise projections in authoritative sources and framed actionability for infrastructure resilience. In 2013, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell appointed him co-chair of the Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science, which recommended the U.S. Geological Survey prioritize the development of actionable science to help land and ecosystem managers respond to climate change. In 2018 he co-founded the Bay Area Climate Adaptation Network (BayCAN) and currently serves as chair. He currently serves on the NASA Sea Level Change Science Team (N-SLCT), helping NASA engage with practitioners, and is a Principal Investigator on a global research project seeking to understand which sea level rise projections are in use in local jurisdictions on every continent. He co-chairs the Sea Level Rise Grand Challenge Committee of the World Climate Research Programme, which has a focus on connecting international best available science to meet coastal planning needs.
Role: Climate Program Director
Areas of Expertise: Water policy, water supply planning, and environmental policy.