The State of Climate Adaptation in U.S. Marine Fisheries Management

This report presents the results of EcoAdapt’s efforts to survey adaptation action in marine fisheries management by examining the major climate impacts on marine and coastal fisheries in the United States, assessing related challenges to fisheries management, and presenting examples of actions taken to decrease vulnerability and/or increase resilience. First, we provide a summary of climate change impacts and secondary effects on fisheries, focusing on changes in air and water temperatures, precipitation patterns, storms, ocean circulation, sea level rise, and water chemistry. We then examine non-climatic factors that affect fisheries management, such as overfishing, bycatch, pollution, habitat degradation and modification, invasive and non-native species, and conflicting uses of marine and coastal ecosystems. Next, we examine how the aforementioned issues combine to influence abundance and productivity, distribution and recruitment, and essential fish habitat. Then we present the results of a survey sent to federal, tribal, state, and other practitioners to identify challenges, needs, and opportunities for climate-informed fisheries management and conservation. Summaries of and trends in commonly used adaptation approaches and examples from our survey and other resources are presented in four broad categories (Gregg et al. 2011; Gregg et al. 2012):

  1. Capacity Building: Strategies include conducting research and assessments, investing in training and outreach efforts, developing new tools and resources, and monitoring climate change impacts and adaptation effectiveness.
  2. Policy: Strategies include developing adaptation plans, creating new or enhancing existing policies, and developing adaptive management strategies.
  3. Natural Resource Management and Conservation: Strategies include incorporating climate change into restoration efforts, enhancing connectivity, reducing local change, and reducing non-climate stressors that may exacerbate the effects of climate change.
  4. Infrastructure, Planning, and Development: Strategies include protecting critical coastal infrastructure used by the fishing industry, and creating or modifying coastal development measures (e.g., removing shoreline hardening, encouraging low-impact development) to increase habitat resilience.

The majority of adaptation efforts in fisheries management to date have been focused on capacity building, including conducting research and assessments, creating resources and tools, and monitoring how climatic changes are affecting species, habitats, and fishing communities. Finally, we discuss several more options to advance adaptation in the fisheries sector that are either not yet represented or are only partially addressed by the examples from our survey. 

Temperate- Your climate adaptation planning companion

Tool Overview: 

Temperate is designed to help cities move through the process of climate change adaptation planning, including exploring climate hazards, creating vulnerability assessments, and crafting action plans. Using available temperature and precipitation climate projections for the user's location, Temperate will suggest potential future climate hazards that may be of significance. After exploring potential hazards, Temperate walks users through assessing each hazard's possible impact on various community systems.

Climate Change Adaptation Governance in British Columbia: Workshop Proceedings

On March 6th, 2018, ACT, SFU and Western University co-hosted a workshop in Vancouver on the topic of climate change adaptation and governance in Canada, with a specific focus on issues relating to the British Columbia (BC) context. Attendees included participants from government, academia, private sector, and non-governmental organizations. Particular attention was given to province-wide strategies for adaptation, risk reduction, and the intersection between them. This workshop was part of a series of events being carried out in tandem with research at Western University.1 This report summarizes the discussion with participants on adaptation framed as a set of actions and governance strategies. 

Climate change adaptation is the process of preparing for actual or projected changes in climate averages and extremes. It relies on interpretations and values pertaining to key questions regarding ways hazards and vulnerability are determined; the nature of acceptable interventions; and the determinants of success. As a result, adaptation is both complex and political in nature. The process of identifying the most effective roles for various actors and the best policy instruments to use to reach certain goals is not only value-laden, but complex and uncertain.

In an attempt to untangle this many-faceted issue within the provincial context, participants were asked to consider the following questions:

  1. Based on your experience and professional insight, what are the necessary components for effective climate change adaptation governance in Canada?

  2. Based on existing successes, what roles and mechanisms are required for effective and collaborative adaptation?

  3. What are the barriers to effective adaptation governance, and what are some potential strategies for overcoming them? 

 

Policy Options for Climate-Resilient Infrastructure

A new federal infrastructure package presents a critical opportunity to strengthen America’s infrastructure against the growing risks posed by extreme weather and other impacts of climate change. Enhancing the climate resilience of the nation’s infrastructure can substantially reduce future losses, benefiting public health, safety, quality of life, and prosperity. This policy brief outlines the benefits of climate-resilient infrastructure and criteria that should inform infrastructure planning and investment to enhance climate resilience. It identifies the types of infrastructure projects that can promote resilience while simultaneously achieving other climate and energy goals and recommends changes to existing federal policies and programs to ensure ongoing improvement to the climate resilience of America’s infrastructure.

Agroforestry: Enhancing Resiliency in U.S. Agricultural Landscapes Under Changing Conditions

The US Forest Service has published a new report that presents the first-ever synthesis on agroforestry as a mechanism to provide mitigation and adaptation services in the face of a changing climate. With contributions from more than 50 experts from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, this report draws upon recent science and shows how tree-based management strategies can improve agricultural production and resiliency.

From the Ground Up: The State of the States on Climate Adaptation for Agriculture

This paper analyzes how state climate adaptation plans treat agriculture and food systems, and identifies challenges and best practices and lift-up innovative approaches for the future. To conduct the analysis, every state was catalouged with a climate adaptation plan that makes concrete recommendations for agricultural adaptation. A list of every agriculture-related policy proposal was created in each state plan and sorted those strategies into ten categories based on our best interpretation of their goals. Eight strategies identified by the USDA in the 2016 report “Adaptation Resources for Agriculture,” were pulled. Two additional categories we identified as important were added, covering financial support and technical assistance.

Key Findings

A few important trends stand out in state climate adaptation plans.

  1. Few states are considering ambitious changes to their agricultural systems, such as changing crop types to fit the altered climate or using new approaches to animal production.
  2. Locally focused adaptation strategies with less daunting scopes, such as those focused on soil and water quality, have gained traction.
  3. Strategies designed to support farmers with technical and financial support for climate adaptation are well-represented.
  4. Very little attention is given to biodiversity, how to “manage farms and fields as part of a larger landscape,” a potentially powerful tool in the face of climate change.
  5. Investing in agriculture-related infrastructure as part of climate adaptation is similarly under-represented.

Indonesia - Costs of Climate Change 2050

The Climate Change Adaptation, Thought Leadership and Assessments (ATLAS) Project undertook an assessment of the future economic costs of climate change in Indonesia to provide USAID/Indonesia and the Government of Indonesia with actionable information for climate change adaptation programming and climate resilient development. The assessment focuses on aspects of agriculture, health, and long-term sea level rise (SLR), estimating the costs that would be incurred in the year 2050 due to changes in climate or to loss of land from gradual SLR. While this study is not a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of climate change impacts, it does shed light on the costs that will be incurred if Indonesia does not invest in adaptation. International and Indonesian policy analysts and decision makers in government, civil society, and the private sector can use this information to inform decisions or identify issues for more detailed analysis that will refine the understanding of the economic implications of climate change.

A guide to selecting ecosystem service models for decision-making Lessons from Sub-Saharan Africa

 

A guide to selecting ecosystem service models for decision-making

Lessons from Sub-Saharan Africa

Ecosystems are essential to human life, livelihoods and wellbeing. Many national policies and international agreements include goals to protect ecosystem services. A new guide – commissioned by the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme and written by Professor James Bullock of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and Helen Ding of World Resources Institute (WRI) – helps readers to assess how ecosystem service models could support policy-making in their countries.

Ecosystem protection features in several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – particularly those on terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity, and the marine environment. Some countries’ national climate action plans, submitted under the 2015 Paris Agreement, include ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation. To date, 127 countries have joined the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), an international body to strengthen collaboration between scientific experts and policy-makers on biodiversity, long-term human wellbeing, and sustainable development. 

In order to manage ecosystem services sustainably, decision-makers need to understand the extent and condition of ecosystems. They must be able to predict the impacts of alternative policies or management decisions on the environment.

Frequently, there is not enough measured data on ecosystem services. In these situations, models can provide useful information based on assumptions from similar places. Modeling is especially useful in developing countries, where measured data may be scarce.

 

The guide is particularly suited to advisors and technical managers who are supporting policy-makers. It is based on results from the 2013–16 WISER project, which assessed several ecosystem service modeling tools in sub-Saharan Africa. Policy advisors from Malawi and Uganda contributed actively to the guide’s development.

The guide includes:

-          Advice on how models can inform different types of policy and programme decisions

-          Guidance on how to consider technical capacity and resource needs, when selecting an appropriate model

-          Case studies that draw on current policy issues and modeling experience in Africa.

The ESPA programme is funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

 

Securing the Future of Cultural Heritage by Identifying Barriers to and Strategizing Solutions for Preservation under Changing Climate Conditions

Climate change challenges cultural heritage management and preservation. Understanding the barriers that can impede preservation is of paramount importance, as is developing solutions that facilitate the planning and management of vulnerable cultural resources. Using online survey research, we elicited the opinions of diverse experts across southeastern United States, a region with cultural resources that are particularly vulnerable to flooding and erosion from storms and sea level rise. We asked experts to identify the greatest challenges facing cultural heritage policy and practice from coastal climate change threats, and to identify strategies and information needs to overcome those challenges. Using content analysis, we identified institutional, technical and financial barriers and needs. Findings revealed that the most salient barriers included the lack of processes and preservation guidelines for planning and implementing climate adaptation actions, as well as inadequate funding and limited knowledge about the intersection of climate change and cultural heritage. Experts perceived that principal needs to overcome identified barriers included increased research on climate adaptation strategies and impacts to cultural heritage characteristics from adaptation, as well as collaboration among diverse multi-level actors. This study can be used to set cultural heritage policy and research agendas at local, state, regional and national scales.

The State of Climate Adaptation in Water Resources Management: Southeastern United States and U.S. Caribbean

The intent of this report is to provide a brief overview of key climate change impacts and a review of the prevalent work occurring on climate change adaptation in the Southeastern United States and U.S. Caribbean, especially focusing on activities as they relate to water resources. The Southeastern United States includes Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, and Florida. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) comprise the U.S. Caribbean region. This report presents the results of EcoAdapt’s efforts to survey, inventory, and, where possible, assess climate-informed water resources action in the region.

The synthesis includes:

  • A summary of key regional climate change impacts and discussion on how the aforementioned issues combine to influence water supply, demand and use, quality, and delivery;
  • The results of a survey sent to federal, tribal, state, and other practitioners to identify challenges, needs, and opportunities for climate-informed water resources management;
  • Examples of adaptation initiatives from the region, focusing on activities in the natural and built environments as they relate to water resources;
  • Eighteen full-length case studies, detailing how adaptation is taking shape; and
  • A guide to the current suite of tools available to support adaptation action in water resources management, planning, and conservation.