Adapting Governance to Climate Change: Managing Uncertainty Through a Learning Infrastructure

This report addresses the challenges and limitations of natural resource governance to cope with the effects of climate change, and highlights uncertainty as limiting the capacity for advancing adaptation measures.  It recommends that legislators adopt an “adaptive governance” - the systematic assessment and adaptation of management decisions and regulatory programs. The article also proposes a comprehensive strategy for managing uncertainty by promoting a "learning infrastructure." With this strategy, legislators establish and promote use of a shared information infrastructure that provides regulators opportunities to learn from the knowledge and experience of other regulators and respond to rapid changes in natural systems, scientific knowledge, and technology.

This Article has five sections.  The first briefly details the challenges raised by climate change both to natural resources and resource governance in the U.S.  Part II recognizes the need to address these effects through comprehensive adaptation as a complement to climate change mitigation. Part III focuses on how specific features of natural resource governance - regulatory fragmentation and inflexible decision making - hinder the capacity of agencies to respond effectively to the uncertainties of climate change, and provides two related case studies.  Part IV, 'The Inadequacy of Existing Climate Adaptations', details how very few strategies to adapt to climate change considered by legislatures and agencies in the U.S. actually seek to reformulate regulatory processes themselves, also utilizing two case studies.  Part V explains how Congress and the President should alter domestic natural resources governance to manage the uncertainty of adapting to climate change by fostering intergovernmental information sharing and cultivating adaptive management and governance.

Publication Date: 2009

Author or Affiliated User:

  • Alejandro E. Camacho

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Resource Types:

  • Planning guides

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