The Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science (ACCCNRS or the Committee) advises the Secretary of the Interior on the operations and partnerships of the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) and Climate Science Centers (CSCs). The Committee commends the United States (U.S.) Geological Survey (USGS) and U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) on the establishment of the NCCWSC and CSCs. The NCCWSC and CSCs fill a vital role by linking with universities and other partners and working with resource managers to plan, assess, and co-produce the scientific information and tools needed to manage the risks of climate change to help conserve fish, wildlife, and their habitats as well as other natural and cultural resources.
In addition, the Committee would like to recognize USGS and DOI for significant accomplishments since the inception of the NCCWSC and CSCs, including establishing eight CSCs; developing stakeholder-informed science agendas for each of them; taking a scientific focus on the impacts of projected climate change on fish, wildlife, and their habitats, as well as other natural and cultural resources; emphasizing the scientific needs of resource managers and decision makers; drafting a regionally derived national science agenda; and allocating over $93 million in funding for climate adaptation research projects.
In this report, the Committee offers nine recommendations regarding the co-production of actionable science, encouraging coordination and collaboration within DOI and with partners, engaging tribal and indigenous peoples, and program evaluation. These recommendations are summarized below.
Recommendation 1: The Committee recommends that the Secretary clarify that co- production of actionable science is the core programmatic focus of the NCCWSC-CSC enterprise. Co-production entails more than providing tools and information in a one-way flow from the NCCWSC and CSCs to users; it includes longer-term processes and relationship building to frame questions, develop research plans, and ensure the appropriate use of information to improve management of natural and cultural resources in a changing climate.
Recommendation 2: The Committee recommends that the NCCWSC and CSCs prioritize the expertise and tools necessary to conduct outreach and engagement to co-produce actionable science.
Recommendation 3: The Committee recommends that the NCCWSC and CSCs strengthen mechanisms to communicate, coordinate, and collaborate with nonfederal decision makers and partners, including states, tribes, and nongovernmental partners.
Recommendation 4: The Committee recommends that the Secretary direct the NCCWSC and the CSCs, and encourage their federal counterparts who provide climate science and decision support at the regional and national levels (e.g., Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments, U.S. Department of Agriculture Regional Climate Hubs, DOI Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, etc.), to increase coordination of operations and promote complementarity of efforts.
Recommendation 5: The Committee recommends that USGS increase leveraging and coordination of research, products, and communications between the NCCWSC-CSC enterprise and climate science research entities from other USGS programs.
Recommendation 6: The Committee recommends that the Secretary direct the NCCWSC and CSCs to strengthen efforts to coordinate their activities with other DOI bureaus, including, but not limited to, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. In particular, the Committee recommends that the Secretary direct the NCCWSC and CSCs to enhance coordination with the DOI Landscape Conservation Cooperatives and direct the two efforts to jointly communicate their respective roles and responsibilities and how they intend to work together.
Recommendation 7: The Committee recommends that the Secretary direct DOI to undertake concerted efforts to support the engagement of tribes and indigenous peoples in federal climate-related science investments, including building their capacity to access and benefit from the services provided by the CSCs, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, and NCCWSC.
Recommendation 8: The Committee recommends that the NCCWSC and CSCs promote the use of both Western science and traditional knowledges2 of tribal and indigenous peoples when providing decision makers with relevant information.
Recommendation 9: The Committee recommends that the NCCWSC use a four-part framework for evaluating the CSCs that addresses: (1) institutional development; (2) actionable science; (3) capacity building; and (4) partnerships.