2021 Climate Adaptation Action Plan - U.S. Dept. of the Interior

U.S. Department of the Interior
Posted on: 12/21/2021 - Updated on: 8/23/2022

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It is the policy of the Department of the Interior (the Department) to effectively and efficiently confront and adapt to the challenges that climate change poses to its mission, programs, operations, and personnel. The Department will use the best-available science to take concrete steps to adapt to and mitigate climate change impacts on its resources. In addition, the Department will increase its understanding of climate change impacts, ensure the integrity of Federal decision-making, and coordinate appropriate and proactive responses to impacts on public lands and waters, wildlife, cultural resources, and Tribal resources and interests, as well as issues of environmental justice in vulnerable communities. The Department will integrate climate change risk, mitigation, adaptation, and resilience in its policies, planning, programs, and operations.

The Department will prepare for the effects of climate change on its various responsibilities, which include the following themes:

  • Promote Climate-Resilient Lands, Waters, and Cultural Resources
  • Advance Climate Equity
  • Transition to a Resilient Clean Energy Economy
  • Support Tribal and Insular Community Resilience
  • Empower the Next Generation of Conservation and Resilience Workers

The Department is committed to working with other Federal agencies, Tribes, Insular areas, Native Hawaiian people, States, local communities, and other public and private partners, domestically and abroad, to prepare for and respond to the impacts of climate change. The Department recognizes its role in protecting and mitigating impacts to the public and Tribal lands entrusted to its stewardship for future generations and in ensuring that climate adaptation and mitigation strategies are implemented effectively and equitably. The Department also recognizes its role in supporting Tribes, Alaska Native villages, and Native Hawaiian communities experiencing the most extreme climate change impacts, such as those facing relocation, managed retreat, or protect-in-place decisions. Because climate change spans jurisdictions, borders, and mission areas, the Department is committed to growing these partnerships to establish a whole-of-government approach to tackle the climate crisis.

The Department plays a key role in the larger federal effort to bolster adaptation, resilience, and mitigation to the impacts of climate change. Executive Order 14008, entitled “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad” (January 2021) calls for a government-wide approach to the climate crisis that reduces climate pollution in every sector of the economy; increases resilience to the impacts of climate change; protects public health; conserves our lands, waters, and biodiversity; delivers environmental justice; and spurs well-paying jobs and economic growth, especially through innovation, commercialization, and deployment of clean energy technologies and infrastructure. To implement Executive Order 14008, the Department commits to the following:

  • Approving and Implementing the Department’s Climate Action Plan. The Department’s Climate Action Plan evaluates climate change risks, emphasizes sustainability, bolsters adaptation and resilience, and mitigates the impacts of climate change. The Department’s Climate Action Plan is hereby approved
  • Use Best-Available Science and Traditional Knowledge. Planning and decision-making will use the best-available information that considers existing and projected climate change vulnerabilities, risks, and impacts. Decision-making will also consider traditional knowledge, and the Department will meaningfully consult with Tribes and other indigenous communities throughout decision-making processes that affect their interests
  • Mainstream Adaptation. Climate change adaptation will be mainstreamed and integrated into Departmental policies, planning, practices, and programs. This will ensure that the Department’s decisions are not solely based on historic conditions but consider future scenarios and future-oriented management
  • Tackle Inequity and Environmental Justice. Issues of environmental justice and inequity will be integrated into decision-making to ensure adaptation efforts are sustainable and account for the impacts on all populations, including low-income communities, communities of color, Insular areas, and Tribes
  • Build Strong Partnerships. Adaptation strategies will be collaborative and coordinated across multiple scales and will build on existing efforts and knowledge of public and private partners, including recreational groups, industry, international counterparts, municipalities, States, Tribes, and Insular areas. The Department’s network will also be expanded to include new partners with diverse views and values
  • Maximize Co-Benefits. Adaptation strategies will complement or directly support other climate-related initiatives, including respecting Tribal sovereignty and self-determination, improving disaster preparedness, promoting sustainable resource management, promoting environmental justice, restoring contaminated lands and waters, managing facilities sustainably to reduce energy and water consumption, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Enhance Climate Literacy. A climate-literate workforce capable of integrating climate considerations into all activities, from day-to-day operations to long-term planning, will be established. The workforce will share educational information about climate science and climate impacts with the public and engage stakeholder dialogue about mainstreaming adaptation strategies into actions related to the Department’s mission
  • Apply Risk Management Methods. Adaptation planning will incorporate risk management methods and tools that consider potential future climate conditions to identify, assess, and prioritize options to reduce vulnerability to the environmental, social, and economic impacts of climate change
  • Apply Nature-Based Solutions and Ecosystem-Based Approaches. Strategies to use nature-based solutions to reduce vulnerability of human and natural systems to climate change will be emphasized to increase ecosystem resilience, sequester greenhouse gases, and protect ecosystem services
  • Continuously Evaluate Performance and Practice Adaptive Management. Adaptation plans will include measurable goals, data collection and analyses, and performance metrics to continuously assess whether adaptive actions are achieving desired outcomes and to fine-tune best management practices to specific environmental or socio-economic conditions.

The Department intends to formalize its policy on adaptation with the revision of Department Manual Part 523 – Climate Change Adaptation. The policy will provide guidance to Bureaus and Offices for addressing climate change impacts on the Department’s mission, programs, operations, and personnel. By taking a proactive, flexible approach to assessment, analysis, and adaptation, the Department will be able to keep better pace with a changing climate and play a central role in how the United States stewards its public lands and waters, increases environmental protections, pursues environmental justice, honors its nation-to-nation relationship with Tribes, implements its special legal relationship with the Native Hawaiian people, and fulfills its administrative responsibilities to the U.S. Insular Areas.


Climate Action Plan. September 2021. U.S. Department of the Interior. https://www.sustainability.gov/pdfs/doi-2021-cap.pdf

Affiliated Organizations

The U.S. Department of the Interior protects and manages the Nation's natural resources and cultural heritage; provides scientific and other information about those resources; and honors its trust responsibilities or special commitments to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and affiliated Island Communities. The Interior heads eight technical bureaus: Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Minerals Management Service, National Park Service, Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S.

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