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7 Place-Based Adaptation Cases LESSONS FROM THE RISA EXPERIENCE Caitlin Simpson and Claudia Nierenberg1 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Claudia Nierenberg briefly described the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) Program. Starting in the early 1990s as a âhuman dimensionsâ program in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin- istration (NOAA) in a climate research program, it began by looking in particular places at the relationship between knowledge about climate, particularly the El NiÃ±oâSouthern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon, and the needs of decision making. The program was intended to assess climate- sensitive issues regionally and to teach NOAA how to build knowledge systems for information delivery. Key questions included what the critical issues are and how they are identified, what is known and needs to be known, how knowledge needs change over time, whether enough is known for effective decision making, and how to maximize social and economic benefits. Each RISA regional team offered lessons in coordination. The coor- dination issues that immediately arose involved linking federal agencies with each other and with state and local governments in the region. The program offered insights into how to coordinate around outcomes, and in 1 The presentation is available at http://www7.nationalacademies.org/hdgc/Lessons%20fro m%20RISA%20Experience.pdf [accessed September 2010].
4 FACILITATING CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSES more recent years it has addressed methods for evaluating the success of the program from the participantsâ points of view. An unexpected lesson in coordination was the value of coordinating between university and agency experts. This coordination increased the credibility of the information coming out of the program. It also proved to be very important that the researchers were stakeholders, that is, that they were located in the region and had a commitment to it over a long period of time, enabling them to work with stakeholders through implementation phases. Nierenberg said that the program was always intended to inform the development of some- thing like a climate service. The program leaders originally imagined that the RISA teams together would, with partners at all scales of government, develop an overall research agenda that would advance knowledge for cli- mate adaptation. The RISA program has made important contributions in this area and should be looked to as people work to broaden coordination on an adaptation research agenda. Caitlin Simpson said that the RISA research teams are seen as providing for bottom-up, flexible responses to regional issues rather than for decisions governed by NOAA from Washington. Experience has shown that residence of the team in the region is important for monitoring change over time in physical conditions, land use, and stakeholdersâ perceptions, as well as for improving stakeholdersâ ability to interact with climate scientists. Attention to social context and to the evolution of technology have proved increas- ingly important as well. Each RISA team got to identify critical issues for its own region. It was important for the centers to have expertise in a range of climate time scales, from paleoclimate through models of seasonal to in- terannual climate variability and change. This range of expertise resonates with resource managers, whose interests are also in various time scales. Another lesson was the importance of integrating physical and social sciences. The social sciences have been underrepresented in many RISA cen- ters, and this problem continues, but recent calls for RISA proposals have increasingly emphasized the need to integrate the social sciencesânot only to assess climate information needs (e.g., in relation to downscaled climate models), but also for analysis of vulnerability, evaluation of impacts, evalu- ation of RISA tools and processes, and consideration of decision-making contexts. Simpson said the program now stresses an evaluation component from the start of projects. This includes an assessment of who the stakeholders are, what their knowledge levels are, and so forth, as well as reassessment over time. The program has learned that it is critical to have a core integra- tion structure for network building, research coordination, and ensuring stakeholder influence on the priorities for the science agenda. Stakeholders like a central place to go where they can look at a range of climate informa-
PLACE-BASED ADAPTATION CASES tion. Some of them also see RISA teams as a way to link to federal agencies to look at a range of issues, including agriculture, wildlife, and water. Simpson said that from the programâs viewpoint, the use of climate information for Western water issues is moving forward most quickly. Water managers have become more interested in a range of climate infor- mation, including projections of stream flow, and are interested in using paleoclimate information to frame their interpretation of the information. Some water managers want sophisticated training in regional modeling and downscaling. The program has often seen droughts as opportunities for talking about climate change and the implications for planning. The RISA Program has done pilot work with climate extension spe- cialists in Arizona and Florida, who work with agricultural extension spe- cialists. The South Carolina RISA is now working with a coastal climate specialist and sea grant extension on coastal issues. Regional networks are emerging, involving university-based research teams, a set of regional climate centers, state climatologists, and federal entities, including U.S. Department of the Interior centers specifically. An emerging area in the program involves experimenting with visu- alization tools, scenario planning, and other methods to communicate information that includes uncertainty to stakeholders. For example, in the Colorado River basin, there are various stream flow projections for mid- century. Several RISA teams are working together to compare models and their projections for the basin and to communicate the information in the face of their differences. Another emerging area is water and energy. Simp- son ended by emphasizing that social science is critical to the RISA teams, noting that the program is working harder to identify vulnerabilities and evaluate outcomes. Nierenberg added that one of the biggest lessons of the program so far is how much time it takes to establish relationships and get them to evolve. In the discussion that followed the presentation, Helen Ingram said that even if few social science experts were initially involved, the program was built on social science ideas and questions. RISAs embody a social science notion of relational knowledge, which comes from communities of prac- tice. They have thus become an important social science experiment with changing incentives for the participants, especially the academic ones. The program gave them a reason to care about what information users want, by providing funding for staff support through university teams to write newsletters and do other outreach. It built bridges between researchers and federal and local agencies and gradually attracted more social science researchers to work on these kinds of issues. She emphasized that it takes enormous patience to establish relationships of trust and collaboration among people who lack experience in talking to each other.
6 FACILITATING CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSES Maria Carmen Lemos asked how the RISA experience is informing the NOAA Climate Service (NCS) and how the service would relate to the RISAs in the future. Nierenberg said RISAs have had a profound influence on the NCS, as has the National Weather Service. She said there is now debate within the federal government about how the NCS should relate to other agencies and how it should be influenced by citizen contacts. Simpson added that the regional services component of the NCS will draw on the experiences and main lessons of the RISAs. Thomas Dietz asked if the RISAs should also do research on the pro- cesses of working with stakeholders. Simpson said that this is very im- portant and is actually already occurring. The program wants to look for innovative ways of working with stakeholders. The most innovative proposals in that regard in the last round of competition fared better. Nie- renberg said that a difficult issue is how to cooperate across agencies as they work to diffuse that knowledge. URBAN CLIMATE ADAPTATION PLANNING: LESSONS FROM THE GLOBAL SOUTH JoAnn Carmin2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology JoAnn Carmin began by saying that her comments may be reiterating what has already been said, but on a different scale. Her research concerns urban environmental governance: how cities make sense of climate impacts and how that links to action. The conventional wisdom about urban ad- aptation is that 1. the science has to be perfect, or cities can do nothing; 2. cities will not act without external incentives (carrots and sticks); 3. cities will do nothing without additional capacity; 4. public participation is essential always and often; and 5. all innovation comes from the global North. Her research, which so far involves case studies in low and high middle- income countries, tests these items of conventional wisdom. She has found that although scientific projections are important, di- sasters have been catalysts for planning in the global South. If climate projections are borne out by events, local champions often run with the 2 The presentation is available at http://www7.nationalacademies.org/hdgc/Urban%20 Climate%20Adaptation%20Planning-Lessons%20from%20the%20Global%20South.pdf [accessed September 2010].
PLACE-BASED ADAPTATION CASES experience. Some cities also see that advancing an adaptation agenda of- fers them an opportunity to be regional, national, or global leaders. Also, they do not see adaptation as something additional: climate adaptation is seen as fitting with their other priorities and as a means to advance their existing goals. To sustain adaptation initiatives, buy-in is needed across the city and across old battle lines. People in the cities go to conferences, conduct local research studies, and look to universities and research institutes to extend local capacity and generate local knowledge. They build networks of government and research personnel and develop research agendas as a means of exchanging ideas and knowledge. They also seek out opportuni- ties to link with cities that are similar to themselves (e.g., other coastal cities) so that they can share insights and compare experiences. Finally, cities find that they can generate greater commitment by linking adapta- tion to ongoing programs and by integrating climate considerations into routine activities. Carmin stated that, with regard to science, many cities are doing model assessments with existing tools and data at a relatively low cost. Even a little local knowledge is very useful. Some cities that rely on outside consul- tants have been getting boilerplate reports that are insensitive to local con- text. Assessments are regarded as a critical step in the adaptation process. However, they do not always set the priorities for action. In some instances, they are used to legitimate action that city leaders already want to take and to demonstrate to constituents that this action is appropriate. Public participation is not always well integrated. In the cities studied, nongovernmental organizations are not initiating these processes, and few are involved. Although a participatory process is seen as important, it is secondary to city engagement. However, some cities are testing such ap- proaches as community-based adaptation and are drawing lessons on how to engage residents more broadly from these initiatives. Carmin then discussed the disconnect between the five items of conven- tional wisdom listed above and the lessons from practical experience (see Table 7-1). (1) On the need for perfect and comprehensive science, Carmin found that cities need baseline data and want downscaled projections but often are able to work with what they have. (2) On the need for external incentives, she is finding that leading cities are taking action endogenously. (3) She is finding that although there is a need for additional capacity to initiate and sustain adaptation efforts, especially a need for funding for large infrastructure projects, cities also tend to be very resourceful. (4) Although public participation is important, there may be multiple ways to think about and develop it. (5) The assumption that the wisdom lies in the North is incorrect. Leaders in cities in the global South seek out relevant
FACILITATING CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSES TABLE 7-1 Conventional Wisdom Versus Practical Experience with Climate Adaptation Among Cities in the Global South Conventional Wisdom Practical Experience Science needs to be right Leading cities initiate action and assessments comprehensive. with baseline data and continue to review and expand local projections. Cities will not take action Leading cities are internally driven without external incentives. and find ways to link adaptation to ongoing goals and activities. Initiating and sustaining adaptation Cities need additional support, requires additional capacity. but also are resourceful. Public participation is essential. Participation is important, but seen as an element to be sequenced. Wisdom lies in the North. Leaders seek out and adopt relevant ideas, but also innovate and generate knowledge. SOURCE: JoAnn Carmin. Used with permission. ideas from the North, but they also are developing knowledge and being innovative. Carminâs research findings have several implications for U.S. policy: (1) Cities want downscaled modeling and it would be helpful if they have these tools, but they can still proceed without it. (2) Money is being marshaled to do climate risk assessments, but dialogue is needed on what to include in them, and they need to be focused on information critical to decision mak- ing. (3) There is a need to emphasize links of adaptation to existing goals and priorities, such as sustainability and development. (4) It is important to ensure access to relevant information. There is also a need to promote measures that extend local capacity, such as university-municipal partner- ships. (5) Public participation should not be promoted simply for its own sake but should emphasize critical points of engagement. Policy should be open to alternative approaches to public participation. (6ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ) Cities are sites of initiation and of implementation and must be engaged in the early stages of planning processes. (7) Cities also are sites of innovation in adaptation. There is a need to foster multidirectional exchanges between the North and the South. In the discussion, Stewart Cohen reported on the Columbia Basin Trust, a model from British Columbia that works to enable small towns to
PLACE-BASED ADAPTATION CASES put climate change adaptation into their community plans. A competition offers funds for doing this, for example, by paying for planners to enable local governments to include adaptation in community plans and experts to organize in-service training for local government officials. In this model, sci- entists enable the local governments to act for themselves. Even these small towns can initiate action if there is a champion at a higher organizational level who can bring funds to the process. The trust spends about $30,000 per year per community. Richard Andrews was interested to hear about the main barriers to ini- tiation in the leading cities compared with other cities. Carmin said that she cannot find a city that is doing nothing. She added that the level of buy-in matters. If there is a powerful mayor who steps in, progress is faster than if the initiative comes from city departments. She noted that old battle lines can also be barriers to action: urban planning is often an outlier agency, and competition among groups can also hinder initiatives. Neil Adger asked whether the city planners involved in adaptation are also involved in issues of reducing emissions and changing urban form. Carmin replied that urban planning has little influence in many of these cities. Having broad-brush city plans and strategies is a barrier to real progress because such plans are not actionable and give a false sense of accomplishment. She noted that, in most cities, mitigation and adaptation are understood as two separate things. For example, in Quito, Ecuador, mitigation is related to air quality and policy about pollution, which is an entirely separate issue from flood management and other adaptation issues. Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects are given priority in many cities because they are funded. Peter Banks asked whether population growth is a more pressing is- sue than adaptation for the cities. Carmin responded that the issue is not growth versus adaptation; rather, there is a need to think about adaptation in planning for growth, especially with new development. She was not sure whether climate science is able to deliver what cities want to know. Hassan Virji commented on initiation in Asian cities. In Bangkok, he said a local nongovernmental organization is leading the action and thinking about the entire future of the city, in which climate change is one of many stressors. In Shanghai, activity is more top-down, with strong involvement of developers. In both cases, downscaled climate models are irrelevant. Moreover, such models will not be available in the next 20 years. In Hanoi, downscaled model results were used to get a large loan to pay for barriers against flood surges. Still, more rain is expected, and the floods from the rain will hit the poor. Susanne Moser asked Michele Betsill whether what she had learned about mitigation was different from what Carmin learned about adapta- tion. Betsill said it seems that adaptation has been harder to initiate in the
100 FACILITATING CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSES North than in the South, probably because of differences in vulnerability is- sues. In the United States, she has not seen cities asking for climate models, but rather for answers to questions about the economic and social effects of policies. Roberto Sanchez-Rodriguez pointed out that any new built environment will operate under changed climatic and social conditions. He said that in addition to climate science, social science is needed to improve planning, especially in the South. Many cities have an infrastructure for planning, but it needs a lot of assistance. Christopher Farley commented that, in the North, leadership is needed from both mayors and city managers. He observed that the cities that get involved in adaptation already tend to have mitigation plans and see adaptation as an important addition. They see the value of doing adapta- tion and mitigation together when they are complementary (for example, with water conservation). However, cities have different foci (e.g., water in Phoenix, sea level in Miami). He concluded that it is not possible to offer a blanket statement about whether mitigation and adaptation are treated differently. CLIMATE ADAPTATION: FROM STORIES TO TOOLS . . . TO ACTION Amy Luers Google Amy Luers reflected on some of the key workshop questions on the basis of her own experience in California with a climate policy that has an adaptation focus and on her work at Google on the role of informa- tion and technology in the context of knowledge systems. She noted that there is increasing discussion about adaptation among policy makers, but very little among the general public. She provided some insight on public communication in this area, using summaries of trends in google searches. She reported that Google searches for climate + change + adaptation are increasing in number and are more common than climate + risk, climate + vulnerability, or climate + resilience. However, compared with searches for âglobal warming,â the number is minuscule. After California passed Assembly Bill 32, when the state put a miti- gation plan in place, people started asking what they should do about adaptation. She said that it is difficult to articulate the climate adaptation challenge to nonscientists. The mitigation challenge is relatively easy to ex- plain, as the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can be explained with such concepts as âstabilization wedges.â With adaptation, people want to know what specific problem they need to solve, what the options are,
101 PLACE-BASED ADAPTATION CASES and what is at stake so they can debate the options. The bigger challenge, however, is to build the knowledge, institutions, and culture to support adaptive management. The problem can be articulated in terms of informa- tion scarcity: there are lots of information sources, but there is the need to acquire information, disseminate it, and make it actionable. Luers said that a more distributed and participatory approach is needed for climate change science. Information and communication technologies (ICT) have created the web structure, but it has not been exploited. There are many data por- tals with Earth observations and social networks to enable social learning. However, the most pressing constraints are not in data or technology, but rather are institutional, cultural, and economic. The disaster community is well ahead of the curve on how to organize ICT in an innovative way to provide more rapid information for responses to disasters. One example is of a community âcrowd sourcedâ map that was created within a week after the cyclone in Myanmar. Luers raised the following key questions: Today in the information age, how do people access and gain trust in climate information? Is there a role for the web and wiki environments to connect with scientific assessments? How can institutions be developed to support ICT on climate adaptation? How can the pieces for an adaptive and responsive ICT system be put into place in an unplanned world? Can adaptation systems follow such a model? In the discussion, Cohen commented that the disaster community uses information technology to display observations, which can be confirmed. By contrast, scenarios and futures cannot be confirmed in the same way, even though they are easy to visualize and even though they really get peopleâs attention in communities. They can visualize a house in a flood plain, causing its value to decline, but the visuals are art, not science. Lu- ers said that the field is already heading in the direction of increased use of visualizations and the like, and the question is how to design these outputs. The community has not gone far in figuring out how to use the available tools. She said she has been advised both to make downscaled projections available and not to do so. She noted that it is possible to block data rep- resentation at really small scales to avoid misinterpretations. Dietz asked if there is research on whether these tools are disseminating better information, or just helping people confirm their preconceptions. He also asked whether web-based tools allow data acquisition through surveys and the like. Luers said that google.org has a program to look at the use of cell phones, etc., and universities are studying the use of open-source platforms. She agreed that there are many social science questions not be- ing asked about how people use information tools and about the relative strength of influence of information from different sources.