The U.S. Global Change Research Program 2022–2031 Strategic Plan
The U.S. Global Change Research Program's (USGCRP) 2022-2031 Strategic Plan lays the foundation for meeting a new set of challenges and demands for useful, accessible, and inclusive data and information alongside advancements in understanding of a rapidly changing environment. It was developed by the Subcommittee on Global Change Research and draws on feedback from Federal agencies, the public, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. This plan meets the requirements set forth in the U.S. Global Change Research Act of 1990 (Section 104) to provide a 10-year plan establishing goals and priorities for Federal global change research.
The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) coordinates research across 13 Federal agencies to understand the human-caused and natural processes that influence our planet. Building on a foundation of more than $3 billion in annual investments in Federal research and development, research supported by USGCRP agencies informs the Nation to navigate the challenges of a changing environment and identify opportunities for a more resilient future.
Over more than three decades, USGCRP and its member agencies have worked together to understand the processes—particularly climate change—that are reshaping Earth’s environment and capacity to support the world’s people. The evidence is clear that human activities have caused unprecedented warming of the atmosphere, ocean, and land. Communities across the country and the world are experiencing the effects of this warming, including more frequent and severe flooding, more destructive wildfires, heavier rainfall, and more extreme heat waves.
These and other climate changes are increasing the risk of infrastructure failure; disruption to vital public services; threats to ecosystems and species that provide benefits to people; harms to workers, industries, and the economy; and heat-related illness and death and other health impacts. Climate change is already causing severe disruption to essential systems—including food, water, health, energy, transportation, and natural and managed ecosystems—that help keep people safe and healthy. People who are already vulnerable due to socioeconomic inequality and past and current marginalization are disproportionately harmed by the impacts of climate change and have lower capacity to adapt.
Other global changes closely associated with climate change—including biodiversity loss; urbanization and deforestation; and ocean acidification, deoxygenation, and other profound changes—compound risks to people and ecosystems. Climate change interacts with other global changes in complex ways, creating multiple cascading risks that can amplify harmful impacts. Managing climate and global change risks requires understanding complex interactions across the climate system, ecosystems, and human systems, including potential tipping points that lead to large-scale and potentially abrupt changes, and how these changes will be experienced across different social groups.
Together, climate and global change present an immediate and growing threat to human welfare and planetary health. Since publication of USGCRP’s last decadal Strategic Plan in 2012, climate and global change-related impacts have accelerated, and actions to avoid or reduce harms have increased as more people experience more severe impacts. Demand for authoritative information to support decision-making at local to global scales is growing, and needs are becoming more specific and complex.
The research needed to inform responses to climate and global change extends beyond the scope of previous decadal plans and demands enhanced ambition on the part of USGCRP and its member agencies. The 2022-2031 Strategic Plan lays out a framework for meeting this expanded vision to better equip the Nation and the world to respond to change and manage critical risks.