A Framework for Climate Change Adaptation in Hawaii

Created: 12/10/2010 - Updated: 3/02/2020


In 2006, the Hawaii Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program updated the Hawaii Ocean Resources Management Plan (ORMP), a statewide plan to protect and improve the condition of ocean resources in the state. While the ORMP does not specifically address climate change, the ORMP Working Group, established to ensure implementation and advancement of the plan, does support the development of adaptation strategies that lessen the impacts of climate change. In 2009, the ORMP Working Group, with assistance from the University of Hawaii’s Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy (ICAP), developed A Framework for Climate Change Adaptation in Hawaii to provide guidelines on how the State of Hawaii could plan for adaptation to climate change impacts.


In 2006, the Hawaii CZM Program updated the Hawaii ORMP, an integrated, place-based approach to natural and cultural resource management. Charged with coordinating meaningful interagency and multi-sectoral engagement for plan implementation, the CZM Program established an ORMP Policy Group and an ORMP Working Group in the summer of 2007.  The Policy Group consists of the Directors of State and County resource management agencies, the University of Hawaii (UH), federal partners, and the Marine and Coastal Zone Advocacy Council.  The Working Group consists of managers and staff of the same offices that are tasked with coordinating their respective agency’s implementation efforts. Although climate change is not explicitly addressed in the ORMP, vulnerabilities in Hawaii include shoreline erosion, exposure to coastal hazards, sea level rise, ocean acidification, availability of freshwater, and increased frequency and severity of storms.

While the Working Group supports the development of suitable adaptation strategies that reduce losses (e.g., economic, social, and environmental) associated with climate change impacts, they realized that there were no guidelines on how the State of Hawaii could plan for adaptation. To facilitate state, local, and federal agencies, policymakers, and business and community leaders to plan ahead for climate change vulnerabilities, the ORMP Working Group proposed a framework for adaptation planning in Hawaii (A Framework for Climate Change Adaptation in Hawaii). The framework is intended to help the State of Hawaii develop plans and make informed decisions on climate change adaptation.


In November 2009, the ORMP Working Group developed A Framework for Climate Change Adaptation in Hawaii. The framework promotes an open and collaborative adaptation planning process that will remain flexible to a changing environment, economy, and society. The proposed framework included:

  1. Building a climate change adaptation team
  2. Developing and adopting a long-term vision
  3. Identifying planning areas and opportunities relevant to climate change
  4. Scoping climate change impacts to major sectors
  5. Conducting a vulnerability assessment
  6. Conducting a risk assessment

Once these steps have been completed, there are several ‘next steps’ that the state may choose to take including: prioritizing areas for adaptation planning; setting preparedness goals; developing, selecting, and prioritizing preparedness actions; implementing a preparedness plan; and monitoring progress and updating the plan as needed.

Outcomes and Conclusions

Since A Framework for Climate Change Adaptation in Hawaii was released in 2009, the ORMP Working Group presented the framework to the ORMP Policy Group for official endorsement and has gotten approval from to implement the steps in the framework. Funding, however, is the limiting factor. The ORMP Policy Group has requested planning assistance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Honolulu District, which if awarded, would fund a Climate Change Vulnerability and Risk Assessment for the State of Hawaii. Ideally, the ORMP Working Group would like to conduct an impact assessment for all planning sectors (e.g., water, weather, public safety, emergency management, economic development, shoreline erosion, food security, etc.). The ORMP Working Group has also applied for funding for long-term community visioning with stakeholders, which includes outreach and communication efforts.

The Working Group will continue to move forward by working with ICAP, UH Sea Grant and other partners to implement the different steps in the framework. The framework is downloadable from the Hawaii CZM Program website at: http://hawaii.gov/dbedt/czm/ormp/reports/climate_change_adaptation_framework_final.pdf


Completed through interviews. Last updated December 2010.


Kershner, J. (2010). A Framework for Climate Change Adaptation in Hawaii [Case study on a project of the Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy (ICAP) and Hawaii Coastal Zone Management Program]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: http://www.cakex.org/case-studies/framework-climate-change-adaptation-h… (Last updated December 2010)

Project Contact(s)

The Hawaii CZM Program focuses its work on the complex resource management problems of coastal areas in the part of the State that is under the highest stress. Within a framework of cooperation among federal, state, and local levels, the Hawaii CZM Program employs a wide variety of regulatory and non-regulatory techniques to address coastal issues and uphold environmental law.

The Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy (ICAP) facilitates a sustainable, climate-conscious future for Hawaiʻi, the Pacific, and global island communities.  ICAP produces innovative, interdisciplinary research and solutions to island decision-makers in the public and private sectors.  As a focal point for University of Hawaiʻi (UH) climate expertise, ICAP serves as a two-way conduit between the university and island communities to catalyze climate change adaptation and resiliency.

An Interdisciplinary Endeavor


Scale of Project
State / Provincial
Sector Addressed
Conservation / Restoration
Land Use Planning
Public Health
Rural / Indigenous Livelihoods
Tourism / Recreation
Transportation / Infrastructure
Water Resources
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Air temperature
Fishery harvest
Habitat extent
Infrastructure damage
Invasive / non-native species, pests
Ocean acidification
Public safety threats
Salinization / Saltwater intrusion
Sea level rise
Species of concern
Storms or extreme weather events
Water quality
Water supply
Water temperature
Climate Type
1-3 years
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Incorporate future conditions into natural resources planning and policies
Capacity Building
Design or reform institutions
Create new institutions
Governance and Policy
Create new or enhance existing policies or regulations
Effort Stage
In planning

Related Resources