U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) Climate Change Adaptation Plan

On February 7, 2013 35 federal agencies released their third annual Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans (SSPPs), which for the first time included Climate Change Adaptation Plans to help federal agencies reach climate change resilience goals.

President Obama inacted Executive Order 13514 on October 5, 2009, which requires each federal agency to issue an SSPP, setting new sustainability standards for operations, and directs agencies to improve their environmental, energy and economic performance. Agencies are charged with evaluating their climate change risks and vulnerabilities to manage the effects on the agency's mission and operations in both the short- and long-term. Under this E.O. and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Implementing Instructions, agencies are required to submit a Climate Adaptation Plan for implementation in 2013. (More information on E.O. 13514 and the Implementing Instructions can be found in this clearinghouse.)

The DOI's adaptation plan describes, at a high level, the current state of knowledge about the Department’s climate change vulnerabilities and adaptation needs, and steps to address them in the near-term. A broad overview of the Department’s vulnerabilities to climate change opens the report. The DOI and its component bureaus and offices adhere to Guiding Principles for climate change adaptation, which are outlined in this plan. Vulnerabilities to climate change impacts vary widely across mission areas, so climate change adaptation plans and strategies developed by bureaus ultimately will recognize the vulnerabilities particular to their mission and operations.

The DOI has identified addressing climate change as one of its High Priority Performance Goals: “By September 30, 2013, for 50 percent of the Nation, the Department of the Interior will identify resources that are particularly vulnerable to climate change and implement coordinated adaptation response actions.” Ultimately, it is DOI’s goal to integrate climate change adaptation agency-wide, including, but not limited to: park, refuge, and public land management; restoration; conservation of species and ecosystems; services and  support for tribes and Alaska Natives; protection of cultural, archaeological, and tribal resources; water management; energy and minerals leasing; scientific research and data collection; land acquisition; management of employees and volunteers; visitor services and recreation; and construction and facilities maintenance.

The DOI’s Climate Change Adaptation Actions for Fiscal Year 2013 and beyond are to: 

  • Develop and implement a Departmental Manual Chapter on climate change adaptation outlining the Department’s policy and identifying roles and responsibilities for DOI’s bureaus and offices. 
  • Review progress in meeting DOI’s climate change High Priority Performance Goal and assess next steps beyond FY 2013.
  • Address priorities and actions called for in cross-cutting planning efforts.
  • Implement and update DOI Climate Science Center (CSC) strategic science plans.
  • Develop a chapter for the FY 2012 DOI Economic Report addressing the role of economics in DOI's climate change adaptation efforts.

Secretarial Order No. 3289, issued on September 14, 2009, and amended February 22, 2010, established the DOI's first-ever coordinated strategy to address current and future impacts of climate change on land, water, wildlife, cultural heritage, and tribal resources. The Order also created the Department's Energy and Climate Change Council, chaired by the Secretary, to provide overall leadership for these efforts, assisted by the Energy and Climate Change Task Force, co-chaired by the Deputy Secretary and Counselor to the Secretary. Acting through these mechanisms, the DOI has already initiated a number of actions to identify the areas and species ranges in the U.S. that are most vulnerable  to climate change and to begin implementing comprehensive climate change adaptation strategies in these areas. 

Publication Date: February 7, 2013

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