The Need for a Whole-Government Approach

Recommendation 6.2: The U.S. government should begin immediately to develop a systematic and enduring whole-of-government strategy for monitoring threats connected to climate change. This strategy should be developed along with the development of priorities and support for research as recommended in Chapters 3, 4, and 5.

The monitoring should include climate phenomena, exposures and vulnerabilities, and factors that might link aspects of climate and vulnerability to important security outcomes, and it should be applicable to climate issues globally. It should also include making and periodically updating priority judgments about when and where high-resolution monitoring is needed.

The recommendation for a whole-of-government approach is consistent with the recommendations of the Defense Science Board (2011) and the strong convergence of the climate change monitoring objectives of the intelligence community as discussed here and those of the USGCRP. As noted in previous chapters, these interagency enterprises have many common needs for monitoring and for the fundamental science that informs monitoring choices, but their efforts are not integrated. As the recent National Research Council (2012a) review of the USGCRP strategic plan noted, “An effective global change research enterprise requires an integrated observational system that connects observations of the physical environment with a wide variety of social and ecological observations. Such a system is a crucial foundation for identifying and tracking global changes; for evaluating the drivers, vulnerabilities, and responses to such changes; and for identifying opportunities to increase the resilience of both human and natural systems” (National Research Council, 2012a:39). Monitoring for the purposes of the intelligence community has the same requirements, although information will be used differently because of the need to focus on threats outside the United States. It makes sense for these different interagency communities to collaborate on the scientific analysis required to design the needed monitoring and assessment systems and, as appropriate, on the development and use of these systems.

Organized international collaboration with potentially affected societies and governments and open sharing of data will be important aspects of developing the needed monitoring systems. A monitoring system capable of anticipating and detecting severe instances of climate-induced social and political stresses in many countries would be of great value not only to the U.S. national security community, but also to the affected countries themselves to guide anticipatory adaptations as well as to international humanitarian assistance agencies and foreign donors for preparing their response capacities and to security analysts in countries other than the United States

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