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Challenges Posed by Linkages with Other Activities and Programs

State and local governments, corporations, and nongovernmental organizations are key partners in the nation’s climate change research enterprise (see Recommendation 6). These partners will need a workforce that can engage effectively with the scientific community. There are many opportunities for sponsorship and leadership on climate-related research and decision support at the state and local levels. State, local, and tribal entities should work together with federal and nongovernmental partners to build expertise and create the kinds of networks, partnerships, and institutions that enable effective collaborations between the research community and decision makers. Progress in this direction is already being made. For example, climate advisory councils composed of experts from state universities, research institutions, nongovernmental organizations, municipalities, tribal governments, and agencies have been mandated by executive orders or state legislatures in a number of states. In other cases, science-based nongovernmental organizations have provided leadership in developing impact assessments and climate action plans (both for GHG emissions reductions and adaptation) that have proven helpful for informing policy makers.

A number of corporations have also taken a leadership role in reducing GHG emissions (NRC, 2010b) and promoting other sustainable business practices. These efforts can be expected to increase intellectual capacity and practical experience, both of which will be useful to both the research community and society at large. Partnerships between the research community and the private sector are critical for building effective science-decision maker relationships, for linking knowledge and action, and for identifying critical science workforce needs. Federal programs, such as NOAA’s RISA program and the Regional Climate Centers, can aid in these efforts.

Finally, a strategy is needed for educating and training the next generation of climate change researchers as well as the personnel needed to design, build, and maintain the physical infrastructure and institutional assets needed to respond effectively to climate change. Climate researchers and research managers will also need training in decision-support and outreach activities needed to shape a decision-relevant science agenda. In addition, growing demands for climate information will require more people with skills and practice in effective communication, science-policy interaction, and activities at the interface between research and decision making. Much of the training in these areas will presumably need to take place at regional and local scales, but federal leadership and support are essential. Further discussion of the actions needed to educate and train future generations of scientists, engineers, technicians, managers, and decision makers for responding to climate change can be found in the companion report Informing an Effective Response to Climate Change (NRC, 2010b).

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