1
Overall Assessment of the Strategic Plan

The U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) was established in February 2002 to coordinate climate and global change research conducted as part of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (GCRP) and Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI). The interagency CCSP retains the responsibility for compliance with the requirements of the Global Change Research Act of 1990, including its provisions for annual reporting of findings and short-term plans, scientific reviews by the National Academies, periodic publication of a 10-year strategic plan for the program, and assessments of climate change impacts. At the same time, the U.S. Climate Change Technology Program (CCTP) was created to coordinate and develop interagency research efforts focused on developing new technologies related to climate change and its mitigation. An important initial undertaking of the CCSP was development of a 10-year strategic plan for global change research. The discussion draft of the plan, Strategic Plan for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP, 2002), was released on November 11, 2002 on the CCSP website (<http://www.climatescience.gov>). Over 1,000 scientists, agency representatives, and other stakeholders discussed the plan at a major planning workshop in Washington, D.C., on December 3-5, 2002. The CCSP also requested that the National Academies review both the discussion draft of the strategic plan and a revised version (see Appendix B for statement of task). In response, the National Academies formed the Committee to Review the U.S. CCSP Strategic Plan, which released its first report reviewing the draft plan in February 2003 (NRC, 2003b; see excerpts in Appendix A). The CCSP responded to the committee’s and other comments in a revised strategic plan released on July 24, 2003 (CCSP, 2003). This second NRC report represents the results of the committee’s review of the revised strategic plan.

The committee finds that the CCSP has responded constructively to the NRC review and other community input in revising the strategic plan. The revised strategic plan is much improved over its November 2002 draft, and includes the elements of a strategic management framework for effectively guiding research on climate and associated global change over the next decades. The plan articulates a guiding vision, is appropriately ambitious, and is broad in scope. It encompasses activities related to areas of longstanding importance as well as new or enhanced cross disciplinary efforts. Advancing science on all fronts identified by the program will be of vital importance to the nation.

Recommendation: The CCSP should implement the activities described in the strategic plan with urgency.

ELEMENTS OF A STRATEGIC PLAN

The revised strategic plan explicitly includes most essential elements of a strategic plan, representing a substantial improvement. In particular, it now contains several of the strategic elements identified in this committee’s review of the draft plan (see Box 1-1), such as a guiding vision, executable goals, clear timetables, and a management plan, as well as a statement of the program’s mission and core approaches (see Box 1-2). The vision and goals are consistent with statements by President George W. Bush,1 indicating that the program is responsive to the national needs that he articulated, and to the NRC report on climate change science requested by the Administration in 20012 (NRC, 2001). Further, the committee finds that the CCSP vision and goals are well matched to this program. The mission and core approaches enhance the strategic plan, because they clearly state the main types of program activities necessary to meet the vision and goals.

1  

For example, “America and the world share this common goal: we must foster economic growth in ways that protect our environment. We must encourage growth that will provide a better life for citizens, while protecting the land, the water, and the air that sustain life. We must also act in a serious and responsible way, given the scientific uncertainties. While these uncertainties remain, we can begin now to address the human factors that contribute to climate change” (George W. Bush, February 14, 2002).

2  

“Initial CCSP priorities have developed in response to a report requested by the Administration by a committee of the National Academies’ National Research Council. The NRC report, Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions, characterized areas of uncertainty in scientific knowledge concerning climate change, and identified research areas that will advance the understanding of climate change” (CCSP, 2003, p. 8).



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 5
Implementing Climate and Global Change Research: A Review of the Final U.S. Climate Change Science Program Strategic Plan 1 Overall Assessment of the Strategic Plan The U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) was established in February 2002 to coordinate climate and global change research conducted as part of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (GCRP) and Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI). The interagency CCSP retains the responsibility for compliance with the requirements of the Global Change Research Act of 1990, including its provisions for annual reporting of findings and short-term plans, scientific reviews by the National Academies, periodic publication of a 10-year strategic plan for the program, and assessments of climate change impacts. At the same time, the U.S. Climate Change Technology Program (CCTP) was created to coordinate and develop interagency research efforts focused on developing new technologies related to climate change and its mitigation. An important initial undertaking of the CCSP was development of a 10-year strategic plan for global change research. The discussion draft of the plan, Strategic Plan for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP, 2002), was released on November 11, 2002 on the CCSP website (<http://www.climatescience.gov>). Over 1,000 scientists, agency representatives, and other stakeholders discussed the plan at a major planning workshop in Washington, D.C., on December 3-5, 2002. The CCSP also requested that the National Academies review both the discussion draft of the strategic plan and a revised version (see Appendix B for statement of task). In response, the National Academies formed the Committee to Review the U.S. CCSP Strategic Plan, which released its first report reviewing the draft plan in February 2003 (NRC, 2003b; see excerpts in Appendix A). The CCSP responded to the committee’s and other comments in a revised strategic plan released on July 24, 2003 (CCSP, 2003). This second NRC report represents the results of the committee’s review of the revised strategic plan. The committee finds that the CCSP has responded constructively to the NRC review and other community input in revising the strategic plan. The revised strategic plan is much improved over its November 2002 draft, and includes the elements of a strategic management framework for effectively guiding research on climate and associated global change over the next decades. The plan articulates a guiding vision, is appropriately ambitious, and is broad in scope. It encompasses activities related to areas of longstanding importance as well as new or enhanced cross disciplinary efforts. Advancing science on all fronts identified by the program will be of vital importance to the nation. Recommendation: The CCSP should implement the activities described in the strategic plan with urgency. ELEMENTS OF A STRATEGIC PLAN The revised strategic plan explicitly includes most essential elements of a strategic plan, representing a substantial improvement. In particular, it now contains several of the strategic elements identified in this committee’s review of the draft plan (see Box 1-1), such as a guiding vision, executable goals, clear timetables, and a management plan, as well as a statement of the program’s mission and core approaches (see Box 1-2). The vision and goals are consistent with statements by President George W. Bush,1 indicating that the program is responsive to the national needs that he articulated, and to the NRC report on climate change science requested by the Administration in 20012 (NRC, 2001). Further, the committee finds that the CCSP vision and goals are well matched to this program. The mission and core approaches enhance the strategic plan, because they clearly state the main types of program activities necessary to meet the vision and goals. 1   For example, “America and the world share this common goal: we must foster economic growth in ways that protect our environment. We must encourage growth that will provide a better life for citizens, while protecting the land, the water, and the air that sustain life. We must also act in a serious and responsible way, given the scientific uncertainties. While these uncertainties remain, we can begin now to address the human factors that contribute to climate change” (George W. Bush, February 14, 2002). 2   “Initial CCSP priorities have developed in response to a report requested by the Administration by a committee of the National Academies’ National Research Council. The NRC report, Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions, characterized areas of uncertainty in scientific knowledge concerning climate change, and identified research areas that will advance the understanding of climate change” (CCSP, 2003, p. 8).

OCR for page 5
Implementing Climate and Global Change Research: A Review of the Final U.S. Climate Change Science Program Strategic Plan BOX 1-1 Planning Climate and Global Change Research (NRC, 2003b) Recommendation The revised strategic plan should articulate a clear, concise vision statement for the program in the context of national needs. The vision should be specific, ambitious, and apply to the entire CCSP. The plan should translate this vision into a set of tangible goals, apply an explicit process to establish priorities, and include an effective management plan. Revisions to the CCSP Strategic Plan The vision, goals, core approaches, prioritization, and management plan for the program are articulated in the revised strategic plan (See Box 1-2). A new Chapter 2 (Integrating Climate and Global Change Research) has been added, providing an overview of how the goals constitute a comprehensive, program-wide framework for coordinating interdisciplinary research activities and observations to focus on key climate and associated global change issues (CCSP, 2003, pp. 11-28). The revised plan states how priorities were chosen and lists “criteria for prioritization” (see Box 1-2), but does not clearly explain how the program will apply priorities in the budget process to support newer or expanded research areas, especially if the program funding remains level. The five overarching goals are consistent with the vision (see Box 1-2), are generally balanced among the areas of emphasis for the program, and encompass the scope necessary to address climate and associated global change. The research needs related to ecosystems, human dimensions, impacts, and adaptation have appropriately been brought forward in the plan as the fourth overarching goal. Also, the application of scientific information to “policymaking and adaptive management” can potentially support the decisions highlighted in the fifth goal. The committee notes that objective measures remain to be established, however, for evaluating the program’s performance against its five overarching goals. The alignment of research activities with program goals has been improved compared with the draft plan in that “examples of key research activities” are highlighted for each goal in Chapter 2. However, the plan does not thoroughly map the five goals to research and other program activities or identify sufficient activities to meet the fourth and fifth overarching goals. For example: Research on impacts and adaptation described in Chapters 8 and 9 needs to be more strongly linked to research on climate and land-use change in Chapters 4 and 6, respectively. Research on impacts and adaptation also needs to be better linked with near-term syntheses and work with stakeholders described in Chapter 11, “Decision Support Resources Development.” The discussion of the CCSP modeling strategy in Chapter 10 identifies as priorities the development of model outputs to inform decision makers and impacts research, but does not describe actions to facilitate this usage. The discussion of observing and monitoring in Chapter 12 devotes only a single paragraph to climate-related social, economic, and health data. In general, these new and expanded areas of emphasis, which will be vital for accomplishing CCSP Goals 4 and 5, are less developed than the areas addressed by CCSP Goals 1, 2, and 3, and therefore, need to be accelerated. In a more thoroughly integrated plan, the goals of the program would dictate which individual research projects would be supported and how they would be sequenced. During implementation, these linkages need to be made so that program gaps can be identified and progress toward program goals can be assessed. It is also important that the CCSP have an explicit and defensible process for prioritization and decision making. The revised strategic plan describes how initial priorities were chosen, based in part on the 2001 NRC report Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions, and identifies several “Criteria for Prioritization” (see Box 1-2). The CCSP and participating agencies will need to make budget decisions and set priorities based on the contribution of research activities to accomplishment of the overarching CCSP goals. An explicit approach to priority setting is required, but is not explained in the plan. One reason that an explicit approach is essential is that the revised strategic plan expands the scope of the program beyond that of the GCRP, while providing no new resources. The prioritization approach should make sure to support emerging research areas that fit the program objectives even with little established track record of previous performance. The revised strategic plan identifies timelines of 0-2 year, 2-4 year, and greater than 4 years for many deliverables (see Table 1-1). This approach is an important and essential component of the strategic plan. However, many of the milestones, products, and payoffs are too vaguely worded (e.g., many call for “greater understanding,” “improved descriptions,” or “updated trends”) to ascertain what will constitute success. For example, does a progress report constitute a milestone of

OCR for page 5
Implementing Climate and Global Change Research: A Review of the Final U.S. Climate Change Science Program Strategic Plan BOX 1-2 CCSP Guiding Vision, Mission, Goals, Core Approaches, and Criteria for Prioritization (CCSP, 2003, pp. 2-8). CCSP Vision A nation and the global community empowered with the science-based knowledge to manage the risks and opportunities of change in the climate and related environmental systems. CCSP Mission Facilitate the creation and application of knowledge of the Earth’s global environment through research, observations, decision support, and communication. CCSP Goals CCSP Goal 1: Improve knowledge of the Earth’s past and present climate and environment, including its natural variability, and improve understanding of the causes of observed variability and change. CCSP Goal 2: Improve quantification of the forces bringing about changes in the Earth’s climate and related systems. CCSP Goal 3: Reduce uncertainty in projections of how the Earth’s climate and related systems may change in the future. CCSP Goal 4: Understand the sensitivity and adaptability of different natural and managed ecosystems and human systems to climate and related global changes. CCSP Goal 5: Explore the uses and identify the limits of evolving knowledge to manage risks and opportunity related to climate variability and change. CCSP Core Approaches Scientific Research: Plan, sponsor, and conduct research on changes in climate and related systems. Observations: Enhance observations and data management systems to generate a comprehensive set of variables needed for climate-related research. Decision Support: Develop improved science-based resources to aid decision making. Communications: Communicate results to domestic and international scientific and stakeholder communities, stressing openness and transparency. CCSP Criteria for Prioritization Scientific or technical quality; Relevance to reducing uncertainties and improving decision support tools in priority areas; Track record of consistently good past performance and identified metrics for evaluation of future progress; Cost and value. success on one of these topics? Does a 0-2 year timeline indicate that work is already underway, and that an update or a revision to an existing model will be regarded as satisfactory realization of the milestone? The committee finds that many of the 0-2 and 2-4 year deliverables are too short to attain any significant progress on scientific goals for which work is not already underway. Clear definition of deliverables is particularly important for research that addresses challenging unanswered questions or involves major advances in capabilities, such as the development of an integrated observing system or upgraded climate models; it may take longer than 4 years to make significant progress in these areas. Moving into the implementation phase, the program should specify the milestones and products more clearly, while ensuring that associated timelines are realistic. CLARITY AND INTEGRATION OF THE PLAN This committee identified a lack of clarity about the relationship between the Global Change Research Program (GCRP) and the Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI) as one weakness of the draft report (see Box 1-3). The integration of GCRP and CCRI activities has been clarified in the revised plan, which portrays the CCSP as a single integrated program combining longer-term research efforts with shorter-term, targeted decision support and

OCR for page 5
Implementing Climate and Global Change Research: A Review of the Final U.S. Climate Change Science Program Strategic Plan research foci. This change in the document adds clarity to the organization of the program. More generally, in the revised strategic plan, the critical linkages across program elements are more precisely delineated; facilitated in large part by the new Chapter 2, “Integrating Climate and Global Change Research.” The revised plan has a more comprehensive and well-organized treatment of the CCSP’s strategies for climate modeling (CCSP Chapter 10) and for observing and monitoring (CCSP Chapter 12); these are critical crosscutting activities of the CCSP. As the CCSP moves forward, the program managers should ensure that implementation of these research elements is well coordinated with other parts of the program. TABLE 1-1 Number of Deliverables from Each Research Element in the CCSP Strategic Plan Research Element < 2 years 2-4 years > 4 years Atmospheric composition 0 11 5 Climate variability and change 3 27 5 Water cycle 5 19 14 Land use/Land cover change 13 12 17 Carbon cycle 3 17 22 Ecosystem 2 10 7 Human contributions and responses 3 12 4 TOTAL 29 108 74 BOX 1-3 Planning Climate and Global Change Research (NRC, 2003b) Recommendation The revised strategic plan should: (1) present clear goals for the CCRI and ensure that its activities are consistent with these goals; (2) maintain CCRI’s strong emphasis on support for near-term decisions as an ongoing component of the program; and (3) include an explicit mechanism to link GCRP and CCRI activities. Revisions to the CCSP Strategic Plan The revisions to the plan clarified the relationship between the CCRI and the GCRP. The revised plan makes it clearer that the CCSP is a single program, in which the longer-term GCRP activities and the near-term higher-priority CCRI activities share a common vision and set of goals. The revised plan includes a strengthened chapter on Decision Support Resources Development, which is clearly designed to be an ongoing component of the program, not just a near-term activity. Planning Climate and Global Change Research (NRC, 2003b) Recommendation The CCSP should strengthen the treatment and integration of crosscutting research areas in all substantive chapters. The revised strategic plan should address the interactions and synergies of climate change with other associated global changes. Revisions to the CCSP Strategic Plan Chapter 2 of the revised plan (Integrating Climate and Global Change Research) outlines “Critical Dependencies” among the program elements described in Chapters 3-9, with examples of how research and observations in one element will provide results needed by other elements (CCSP, 2003, pp. 23-25). Crosscutting linkages, interdependencies, and collaborative efforts across elements are also identified in Chapters 3-9. The revised plan includes improved chapters on observations and monitoring, data management, and climate modeling, three crosscutting program activities. The revised plan has two new questions that address the interactions and synergies of climate change with land-use and land-cover change (CCSP, 2003, pp. 68-69) and with ecosystems (CCSP, 2003, pp. 84-86).

OCR for page 5
Implementing Climate and Global Change Research: A Review of the Final U.S. Climate Change Science Program Strategic Plan MOVING FORWARD Climate and associated global changes are now recognized as among the most important challenges facing humankind in the twenty-first century. The challenges transcend national boundaries, as well as normal decision making timeframes. Recognizing these verities, 187 nations, including the United States, generated and subsequently ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.3 The Framework’s relevance to the present strategic plan is expressed clearly: “All parties shall promote and cooperate in scientific, technological, technical, socio-economic, and other research, systematic observation, and development of data archives related to the climate system and intended to further the understanding and reduce or eliminate the remaining uncertainties regarding the causes, effects, magnitude, and timing of climate change, and the economic and social consequences of various response strategies.” The CCSP constitutes the United States’ commitment to this portion of the Framework challenge. The revised Strategic Plan for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program is thus of vital importance for the coming decade and beyond. If the CCSP’s vision and overarching goals for addressing climate and associated global change are achieved, the nation and the global community will be better prepared to manage the impacts of climate and environmental changes during the twenty-first century, and to make informed decisions about options to forestall or mitigate some of these changes. In the remainder of this report, key aspects of the strategic plan needing improvement are identified. The committee does not advocate that the CCSP undertake another major revision to the strategic plan, because the plan provides a wholly adequate framework for the CCSP and a major revision would divert resources from the activities described in the plan. In this context, the committee has focused on assisting the CCSP in implementing the revised plan and in managing the program. Chapter 2 discusses scientific scoping and decision support efforts that need further development in the implementation phase. The major management challenges in implementing the plan are addressed in Chapter 3. Issues associated with this and future planning efforts are discussed in Chapter 4. 3   The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty was signed in 1992 and entered into force in 1994. More information on the treaty is available at <http://unfccc.int>.

OCR for page 5
Implementing Climate and Global Change Research: A Review of the Final U.S. Climate Change Science Program Strategic Plan This page intentionally left blank.