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. 

Can Payments for Ecosystem Services Contribute to Adaptation to Climate Change? Insights from a Watershed in Kenya

Climate change presents new challenges for the management of social-ecological systems and the ecosystem services they provide. Although the instrument of payments for ecosystem services (PES) has emerged as a promising tool to safeguard or enhance the provision of ecosystem services (ES), little attention has been paid to the potential role of PES in climate change adaptation. As an external stressor climate change has an impact on the social-ecological system in which PES takes place, including the various actors taking part in the PES scheme. Following a short description of the conceptual link between PES and adaptation to climate change, we provide practical insights into the relationship between PES and adaptation to climate change by presenting results from a case study of a rural watershed in Kenya. Drawing upon the results of a participatory vulnerability assessment among potential ecosystem service providers in Sasumua watershed north of Nairobi, we show that PES can play a role in enhancing adaptation to climate change by influencing certain elements of adaptive capacity and incentivizing adaptation measures. In addition, trade-offs and synergies between proposed measures under PES and adaptation to climate change are identified. Results show that although it may not be possible to establish PES schemes based on water utilities as the sole source of financing, embedding PES in a wider adaptation framework creates an opportunity for the development of watershed PES schemes in Africa and ensures their sustainability. We conclude that there is a need to embed PES in a wider institutional framework and that extra financial resources are needed to foster greater integration between PES and adaptation to climate change. This can be achieved through scaling up PES by bringing in other buyers and additional ecosystem services. PES can achieve important coadaptation benefits, but for more effective adaptation outcomes it needs to be combined with vulnerability assessments and climate scenarios to ensure that these are realized and potential trade-offs between PES measures and adaptation measures minimized.

Hawaiian Islands Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation Synthesis

The goal of the Hawaiian Islands Climate Synthesis Project was to develop comprehensive, science-based syntheses of current and projected future climate change impacts on, and adaptation options for, terrestrial and freshwater resources within the main Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaiian Islands Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation Synthesis presents the results of the major project components - climate impacts assessment, vulnerability assessment, and adaptation planning - and provides an inter-island analysis of the findings. More detailed information is available in the individual vulnerability assessment syntheses and adaptation summaries, and should be referred to for decision support, which can be found at

Statewide efforts to improve water resources management in Alabama


United States
37° 5' 24.864" N, 95° 42' 46.4076" W
Alabama US

State agencies and regional stakeholders in Alabama are in the process of creating a state water management plan to ensure sustainable management of Alabama’s water resources in the face of a growing population and increasing climatic variability. State-level actions include the formation of an interagency water-focused working group to lead the development of a state water planning process, an update to the state’s Drought Management Plan, and new cross-agency efforts to increase and consolidate water resources monitoring to inform decision-making.

10 propositions for success: Integrating international climate change commitments into national development planning

A new report by Neil Bird of ODI and Claire Monkhouse and Katharine Booth of CDKN examines how to support the successful integration of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) into national development planning.

The adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015 signalled a major transition in the international climate change governance regime. The Agreement outlines the agreed global process for when the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2020. One of the building blocks of the Agreement is the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), to which individual countries commit, in order to achieve the objective of keeping global warming as far as possible below 2°C, with the aim of 1.5°C. NDCs reflect each country’s ambition for reducing emissions, considering their domestic circumstances and capabilities. In addition, developing countries have given emphasis in their first NDCs to how they will adapt to the impacts of climate change, and the finance and other forms of support they will need to deliver their commitments and action. In future, countries will be required to submit updated and more ambitious NDCs every five years, starting in 2020. Consequently, NDCs are now central to the long-term international and domestic climate change policy landscape.

The paper develops a set of ten propositions that, if followed, would likely secure this objective. Each proposition is examined using evidence primarily from seven countries where the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) has supported the development and early implementation of NDCs. It provides illustrations of these propositions in practice, drawing on experience from CDKN’s technical assistance and elsewhere.

The evidence suggests that the policy and planning framework in the seven countries examined is generally supportive of mainstreaming climate change actions into national development planning; that there are challenges in securing institutional effectiveness for the delivery of NDC commitments, often reflecting differing capacities across sectors and different levels of government; and that the financing of NDCs remains unclear, being dependent to-date on national budget allocations for which there has been limited monitoring of the relevant spending.

Download the report here: 10 propositions for success: Integrating international climate change commitments into national development planning

Rapid Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Strategies for the National Marine Sanctuary and Territory of American Samoa

This report summarizes the results of a rapid vulnerability assessment (July 2016) and adaptation strategy planning (September 2016) workshops for 10 focal resources in the Territory and National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa by engaging with stakeholders, including village leaders, community members, resource managers, local government representatives, and business owners that rely on the resources with the goal of increasing climate resilience in the region. 

Adaptive management in crop pest control in the face of climate variability: an agent-based modeling approach

Climate changes are occurring rapidly at both regional and global scales. Farmers are faced with the challenge of developing new agricultural practices to help them to cope with unpredictable changes in environmental, social, and economic conditions. Under these conditions, adaptive management requires a farmer to learn by monitoring provisional strategies and changing conditions, and then incrementally adjust management practices in light of new information. Exploring adaptive management will increase our understanding of the underlying processes that link farmer societies with their environment across space and time, while accounting for the impacts of an unpredictable climate. Here, we assessed the impacts of temperature and crop price, as surrogates for climate and economic changes, on farmers’ adaptive management in crop pest control using an agent-based modeling approach. Our model simulated an artificial society of farmers that relied on field data obtained in the Ecuadorian Andes. Farmers were represented as heterogeneous autonomous agents who interact with and influence each other, and who are capable of adapting to changing environmental conditions. The results of our simulation suggest that variable temperatures led to less effective pest control strategies than those used under stable temperatures. Moreover, farmers used information gained through their own past experience or through interactions with other farmers to initiate an adaptive management approach. At a broader scale, this study generates more than an increased understanding of adaptive management; it highlights how people depend on one another to manage common problems.

A How-to Guide for Coproduction of Actionable Science

Resource managers often need scientific information to match their decisions (typically short-term and local) to complex, long-term, large-scale challenges such as adaptation to climate change. In such situations, the most reliable route to actionable science is coproduction, whereby managers, policy makers, scientists, and other stakeholders first identify specific decisions to be informed by science, and then jointly define the scope and context of the problem, research questions, methods, and outputs, make scientific inferences, and develop strategies for the appropriate use of science. Here, we present seven recommended practices intended to help scientists, managers, funders and other stakeholders carry out a coproduction project, one recommended practice to ensure that partners learn from attempts at coproduction, and two practices to promote coproduction at a programmatic level. The recommended practices focus research on decisions that need to be made, give priority to processes and outcomes over stand-alone products, and allocate resources to organizations and individuals that engage in coproduction. Although this article focuses on the coproduction of actionable science for climate change adaptation and natural resource management, the approach is relevant to other complex natural-human systems.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Climate Change Adaptation Plan (2014)

We live in a world in which the climate is changing at a rate faster than that which society has experienced in modern history. Because many of the environmental outcomes that EPA is working to attain (e.g., clean air, safe drinking water) are sensitive to changes in weather and climate, these changes are posing new challenges to EPA’s ability to fulfill its mission of protecting human health and the environment.

To address these challenges, EPA has developed a Climate Change Adaptation Plan. The Adaptation Plan relies on peerreviewed scientific information and expert judgment to begin to identify potential vulnerabilities to EPA’s mission from climate change. The Adaptation Plan also presents priority actions the Agency will take to integrate climate adaptation planning into its programs, policies, rules, and operations to ensure they are effective in a changing climate. EPA’s focus on climate adaptation is part of a larger federal effort to promote a healthy and prosperous nation that is resilient to a changing climate. EPA’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan provides a road map and commitment from the Agency to addressing the direction provided in the President’s Climate Action Plan, and Executive Order 13653, Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change.

Department of the Interior Climate Change Adaptation Plan (2014)

Adaptation is the adjustments that society or ecosystems make to limit negative effects of climate change. The Department’s approach to adaptation focuses on increasing the resilience of the Department’s assets, program activities, and mission responsibilities in response to climate vulnerabilities. Resilience is the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to changing conditions and withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from disruptions.

While the Department’s 2013 Climate Change Adaptation Plan focused on assessing the Department’s climate change related vulnerabilities, the 2014 Plan focuses more on the Department’s work to address climate change through implementation of Executive Order 13653 and the Department’s Climate Change Adaptation Policy (523 DM 1). Section II of this plan explains the Department’s official Climate Change Adaptation Policy and provides additional guiding principles. Section III summarizes the Department’s efforts to address climate related risks. Section IV demonstrates the Department’s efforts to modernize programs to support climate resilience investment.