~ Conduct Training & Planning Exercises

Workshops, stakeholder engagement processes, and scenario planning exercises can not only provide much needed information but also motivate action and implementation of on-the-ground projects. Conservation and management practitioners need assistance in conceptualizing the range of issues climate change poses, developing or locating needed information to make decisions, and finding other practitioners with whom to interact and engage as adaptation approaches are created.


Create & Host Adaptation Workshops

Training and planning workshops can provide context and guidance about climate change. These workshops may present climate change information, introduce adaptation theory and practice, and help participants develop their own strategies. Climate change adaptation workshops have been conducted in the region over the last two decades. For example, the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin Project, a five-year (1992-1997) binational planning effort between the United States and Canada and coordinated by Environment Canada, Atmospheric Environment Service, Environmental Adaptation Research Group, and the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, included a symposium Adapting to Climate Change and Variability in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin. The May 1997 meeting was one of the earliest in the region to be focused on climate change risk, vulnerability, and adaptation responses. About 150 participants met to discuss the range of projected impacts and associated risks, information needs, potential adaptation strategies, priorities for action, and potential barriers.123 Since then, many other regional workshops have been held.

In 2008, the Environmental Science and Policy Program of Michigan State University hosted a conference titled Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region. More than 160 individuals from academia, business, nongovernmental organizations, and government attended the conference; key discussions included the effects of climate change in the region, uncertainty and climate-related decisions, research needs, and prescriptions for action.124

In 2011, NOAA hosted a series of capacity building adaptation workshops based on the trainings developed by the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) and Washington Sea Grant.125 The Old Woman Creek NERR and the Lake Superior NERR worked with other partners to customize the workshop agenda and materials to address Great Lakes issues (e.g., land use, stormwater, disaster preparedness, natural resource management). Workshops were targeted toward state and local decision makers and planners and held in Cleveland (Ohio), Duluth (Minnesota), and Green Bay (Wisconsin).126

Finally, the Menominee Nation Tribal Summit was hosted by the College of Menominee Nation Sustainable Development Institute in August 2011 in order to exchange information on research projects related to climate change and resilience and to begin a discussion on the research needs of Great Lakes tribes.127

State-level workshops have also been held in the last few years. A conference titled Ohio’s Wildlife in a Changing Climate: Sustaining Habitats and Diversity was held for wildlife managers, fish and wildlife biologists, naturalists, and other conservation professionals. The conference included presentations on regional climate trends, likely impacts on habitat and wildlife, planning and decision making in the face of uncertainty, and regional examples of climate adaptation. It was intended to provide foundational information to help conservation and natural resource professionals address climate change impacts on habitat and wildlife in their plans and management strategies.128

In Michigan, a workshop was convened to support the integration of climate change into the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, National Wildlife Federation, and Michigan United Conservation Clubs led the workshop, which allowed participants to assess issues including management responses, shaping federal and state policy, and implementation of the current SWAP. Important research needs were also identified, including vulnerability assessments, connectivity planning, information and education, and the development of multiple climate-ready plans to deal with uncertainty.129

At the local level, a variety of workshops have been held to enhance capacity. Pennsylvania Sea Grant held a workshop in Erie County in September 2010. Funded through the Sea Grant Coastal Climate Change Adaptation Initiative, the workshop was held to increase community understanding of climate change impacts, develop partnerships to increase resilience, train participants on adaptation, and identify where adaptation could be incorporated into existing activities.130

Finally, Freshwater Future developed the Great Lakes Community Climate Program to help local residents and community groups incorporate climate change into decision-making activities, such as advocacy, engagement, protection, and restoration of lakes, wetlands, rivers, and shorelines in the region. Since 2010, Freshwater Future and EcoAdapt have hosted climate symposia in Detroit, Milwaukee, Toronto, Buffalo, and Duluth, during which community groups are trained in climate change adaptation. Each workshop orients participants to climate change science basics and predicted regional impacts before focusing on brainstorming and developing adaptation solutions. The goal of each workshop is to ensure that participants leave having learned how to approach their work from a climate-informed perspective.131


Create Stakeholder Engagement Processes

Engaging stakeholders and gaining buy-in is a critical piece to the climate adaptation process. This strategy includes multiple levels of engagement, ranging from soliciting input in public venues (e.g., meetings, workshops) to more personalized interactions (e.g., one-on-one). This engagement may also be active (e.g., role playing exercises) or passive (e.g., interactive websites, public comment).

Active Engagement

Stakeholders are sometimes engaged to solicit information that can help direct climate change research and adaptation planning. For example, researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) worked with MSU Extension educators and the Michigan Farm Bureau to organize a series of focus group discussions with Michigan farmers, representatives from the agriculture industry, MSU researchers, legislative aids, and environmentalists. The first round of focus groups included discussions of participants’ existing perspectives about climate change, where people were getting their information about climate change, how they see climate change and agriculture being linked, and what topics would be important to understand. The second round of focus groups covered three themes:

  1. Perceptions of climate change and if it has or would lead to adaptation
  2. Perceptions of climate change adaptation and adaptation in general
  3. What would participants need in order to adapt

The researchers have created trainings, fact sheets, and compiled summaries of conversations with farmers so that MSU Extension educators and agricultural professionals can begin incorporating this information in their programming to reach agricultural producers across Michigan.132

Engagement may also be used to refine decisions or products. For example, the Great Lakes lake whitefish decision support tool will be refined and revised through collaborations with Great Lakes Sea Grant Extension Educators, tribal representatives, and commercial fish producers in order to facilitate buy-in and use.133

Passive Engagement

Websites provide an easy forum through which stakeholder engagement may occur. Some websites are targeted to specific user groups; for example, Wisconsin Sea Grant created the Coastal Climate Wiki, which may be modified by registered Sea Grant and NOAA staff involved in any climate research, education, or outreach.134 Others are designed to provide information and solicit feedback from users. The National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy website solicited review and public comment on the initial draft in early 2012. Another version of the strategy, drafted by federal, tribal, and state natural resource representatives to guide adaptation action over the next 50–100 years, is in progress.135


Conduct Scenario Planning Exercises

Scenario planning is being employed more frequently in the development of adaptation responses. This strategy allows users to identify scenarios and responses and evaluate potential policy and management options. Scenario planning guides participants through the identification of adaptation responses that operate well across multiple scenarios; it helps users identify options for overcoming uncertainty and can also improve adaptive management practices.136 The National Park Service has used scenario planning to examine potential climate change impacts and adaptation responses for individual parks; these planning workshops were piloted at Joshua Tree National Park137 and Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park138 in 2007. This series was then expanded to four additional regions in 2010-2011, which included an October 2010 workshop for the Great Lakes and Atlantic Coast bioregions.139

123 Environmental Adaptation Research Group. (1998). Adapting to Climate Change and Variability in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin: Proceedings of a Binational Symposium.

124 Michigan State University. (2008). Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region: Decision Making Under Uncertainty. Key Messages from the “Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region” Conference (April 2008) and the International Symposium “Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region: Decision Making Under Uncertainty” (March 2007).

125 Gregg, R.M. (2010). The National Estuarine Research Reserve's "Planning for Climate Change" Workshop [Case study on a project of the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Washington Sea Grant]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE (Last updated March 2010)

126 Feifel & Hitt 2012: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Climate Initiatives

127 Personal communication with M. Emery, U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station, April 3, 2012.

128 Ohio Department of Natural Resources

129 Koslow 2010

130 Gregg, R. M. (2012). Pennsylvania Sea Grant’s Climate Change Outreach and Research Projects [Case study on a project of Pennsylvania Sea Grant]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program (Last updated October 2012)

131 Hitt, J. L. & Gregg, R. M. (2012). Fostering a Climate-Informed Community Perspective in the Great Lakes: The Great Lakes Community Climate Program [Case study on a project of Freshwater Future]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program (Last updated October 2012)

132 Kershner, J. M. (2012). Helping Michigan’s Farmers Understand and Adapt to the Impacts of Climate Change [Case study on a project of Michigan State University Extension and Kellogg Biological Station – Michigan]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program (Last updated October 2012)

133 Lynch & Taylor 2012

134 Gregg, R. M. (2012). Enhancing Climate Change Education and Outreach for Wisconsin’s Coastal Communities [Case study on a project of Wisconsin Sea Grant]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program (Last updated October 2012)

135 Gregg, R. M. (2010). Developing a National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy for the United States [Case study on a project of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program (Last updated October 2012)

136 Peterson, G., G.S. Cummings, & S.R. Carpenter. (2003). Scenario Planning: A Tool for Conservation in an Uncertain World. Conservation Biology 17(2): 358-366.

137 Kershner, J. (2011). Scenario Planning in Joshua Tree National Park [Case study on a project of Joshua Tree National Park]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: http://www.cakex.org/case-studies/2904 (Last updated January 2011)

138 Feifel, K. (2010). Scenario Planning Pilot Study for Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park [Case study on a project of the National Park Service]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: http://www.cakex.org/case-studies/1583 (Last updated July 2010)

139 Weeks, D., P. Malone, & L. Welling. (2011). Climate Change Scenario Planning: A Tool for Managing Parks into Uncertain Futures. ParkScience 28(1):26–33.