Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy (ICAP)


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

ICAP is a diverse collaboration that coordinates research, education, and policy recommendations through a team of academic specialists in the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s, Planning, Ocean Science, and Hawaiian Studies departments and the Law School. While these institutions are the primary source for ICAP’s work, ICAP encourages participation and topic-specific contributions of researchers and faculty from all departments on the UH campus, as well as external experts and practitioners, in order to achieve its mission and provide top-notch policy evaluation and solution-sets.

  • Science.Affiliate faculty and graduate students at the School of Ocean & Earth Science & Technology (SOEST) and other departments provide up-to-date climate data and models. ICAP also coordinates technical projects requested and/or contracted by island communities. Islands face an uncertain climate future, and sustainability and resiliency requires a range of scientific and engineering tools. For example, rainfall pattern changes are likely to negatively impact aquifer recharge, increase the frequency and intensity of flooding, disrupt food security, and raise public health issues related to climate change. Strong scientific data and models can help improve the capability of communities and governments to predict and accommodate shifting climate patterns to reduce negative long-term impacts.
  • Policy.The ICAP Director and participating fellows and students at the Law School translate scientific research and modeling with regard to climate change into policy white papers, and recommend science-based implementation strategies for laws currently on the books. These efforts include: assisting the Hawaiʻi Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Task Force in development of an effective and equitable regulatory framework to achieve state emissions reduction targets under Act 234 and auditing Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes and County Codes to identify laws that intersect with climate issues.
  • Planning.Affiliates at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning (DURP) and related departments bring a climate-critical eye to planning and infrastructure projects and enhance island resiliency with model adaptive projects. DURP engages in public-private partnerships with foundations and green technology groups to test and refine adaptation and hazard mitigation strategies.
  • Indigenous Environmental Knowledge.Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge brings a perspective often overlooked in contemporary initiatives for addressing climate change. That perspective includes the environmental knowledge developed by the people who have inhabited islands for millennia. Hawai‘inuiākea faculty and students bring a capacity for research into Hawaiian language and indigenous sources of information to incorporate ancestral wisdom that has relevance to ICAP’s mission.

Recent Projects

ICAP links people with the wealth of climate knowledge housed at the University of Hawai‘i. ICAP’s recent projects include:

  • Preparing and distributing the “Hawai‘i’s Changing Climate Briefing Sheet, 2010”, a statement of facts for legislators and other decision-makers at the state and local levels.
  • Assisting the multi-stakeholder Hawai‘i Ocean Resources Management Plan Working Group with the preparation of “A Framework for Adapting to Climate Change in Hawai‘i, which facilitates and encourages state, local and federal agencies; policy-makers; businesses; and community partners to plan ahead for the impacts of climate change.
  • Developing a study, with support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Services Center and NOAA Coastal Storm Program, to identify existing policy barriers and opportunities for climate change adaptation and offer science-based model ordinances and policy language for decision-maker consideration.