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Planning Climate and Global Change Research 5 Enhancing Linkages and Communication Does the plan adequately describe the roles of the public, private sector, academia, state/local governments, and international communities, and linkages among these communities? Does the written document describing the program effectively communicate with both stakeholders and the scientific community? Is the question format for driving the research program effective? The committee addresses these questions in the context of its analysis of the Climate Change Science Program’s (CCSP’s) efforts to establish linkages with and outreach to various stakeholder groups including the scientific community. The strategic plan itself does not include explicit statements articulating the program’s view of the roles of the public, private sector, academia, state and local governments, and international communities, so one answer to the first part of the first question above would be “no.” Based on references in the draft plan to these stakeholder groups (e.g., CCSP, 2002, p. 149ff), the committee inferred the CCSP’s view of their respective roles. This chapter starts by addressing the first two questions above for each of the following major stakeholder groups: (1) decision makers, (2) the international community, (3) the public, and (4) scientists; the third question is addressed later in this chapter. The committee will provide more detailed analysis of the strategic planning process, including its analysis of the December planning workshop, in its second report. DECISION MAKERS As discussed in Chapter 3 of this report and as identified repeatedly at the December planning workshop, one overarching weakness of the draft strategic plan is its treatment of decision support. Whereas the plan frequently refers to decision support resources, these resources are not defined beyond “providing the needed information” to policy and other decision makers. This approach implies strongly that the role of decision makers is primarily as passive recipients of information. For example, Chapter 13 of the draft plan focuses on describing one-way communication from researchers to various end users who may or may not have previously identified these information needs. This general weakness of the plan applies to decision makers of all types and can be addressed in the revised plan by drawing on lessons learned in previous assessment activities (see Chapter 3 of this report). The plan lacks specificity about which decision makers it serves, how the CCSP will connect with them, and what types of decisions they will need to make. There are many different stakeholders both inside and outside of the federal government whose needs may vary considerably. When decision makers are mentioned in the plan, however, only two general communities of decision makers are mentioned (e.g., see CCSP, 2002, p. 41-42): federal policy makers with responsibility for emission mitigation decisions and officials (at what government level is unclear) in charge of natural resource management decisions. These two groups have different information needs; the first group requires knowledge of the projected costs and benefits of different emissions control scenarios, while the second is more concerned with understanding climate variability so as to develop adaptation strategies and to respond to current climate conditions, such as in water resource management. The plan needs to clearly indicate how its research activities will support both of these types of decisions, as well as those for a broader suite of stakeholders. The strategic plan does not adequately consider the participation of state and local officials. Users of climate information at the local, state, and regional levels rely primarily on local officials and experts, not on federal
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research officials. If the CCSP’s outreach endeavors are to be successful, it is important for federal agencies to work closely with regional and state climate institutions that can directly help educate and interact with state government, the private sector, and the general public. Indeed, some mission agencies (e.g., those under the Department of the Interior) already have state and local officers addressing climate issues, but these agencies do not yet participate in the CCSP (see Chapter 4 of this report). The plan’s treatment of the private sector is also limited. Many sectors of the U.S. economy stand to be affected seriously or even restructured by policies employed to respond to climate change. Others can benefit greatly from improved climate information (e.g., from seasonal to interannual forecasts) and from new opportunities in adaptation to and mitigation of climate change (e.g., through developing new climate mitigation technologies). In addition, commercial development and implementation of most of the technology to address climate change will be carried out by the business community. Yet the plan barely mentions the private sector and when it does, its role is solely as a passive recipient of information generated by the program (e.g., CCSP, 2002, p. 151). Government decisions based on information to be provided by the CCSP are likely to be more successful if the private sector is engaged throughout the research and planning process. Although the text in places recognizes the importance of engaging stakeholders in the preparation and review of long-term strategic plans, the plan needs to state explicitly that stakeholders should be included where appropriate throughout the research planning, execution, and results review process. Furthermore, the draft plan does not capitalize on the NRC report Making Climate Forecasts Matter (NRC, 1999c), which includes recommendations for using the decision sciences to communicate climate issues to stakeholders and other interested parties. Without employing two-way and deliberative communication the plan presents an outmoded and unsuccessful model of stakeholder engagement and public involvement. Recommendation: The revised strategic plan should identify which categories of decision makers the CCSP serves and describe how the program will improve two-way communication with them. INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY The committee believes that the draft plan misses an opportunity to develop a forward-looking strategy for improving international research networks and assessments. These concepts are mentioned in Chapter 14 of the draft plan, but not in a strategic way. The value of multi-national research networks has been demonstrated in several ongoing agency programs and in international organizations. For example, research conducted under the GCRP during the last 10 years has demonstrated considerable science leadership in international global change programs, particularly the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), the International Program on Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IHDP), and the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). The issue for the CCSP is how to leverage the many governmental and nongovernmental organizations to develop capacity and ongoing regional networks of international scientists collaborating with U.S. scientists. Without a defined strategy it is unlikely that the full benefits of such approaches will be achieved. International collaboration is needed for building better in situ calibration and validation of observations, for obtaining more globally distributed measurements, and for building synergy and reducing redundancy in the deployment of observation assets. The meteorological community offers a good example of international collaboration, with assignment of responsibilities for making measurements and data-sharing protocols arranged at an intergovernmental level under the World Meteorological Organization. The climate community lacks a similar structure. The U.S. climate community has not even identified which agency serves as the central contact for international partners on climate research issues, including coordinated observing arrays, intercalibration, capacity building, and data and product sharing. Most of the world community recognizes that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) approach to involving governments directly in the scientific assessments has been a success. It has acted to denationalize scientific knowledge, an objective that individual national assessments cannot always meet. The value of international assessments over national assessments lies in three factors: (1) by engaging a majority of the world’s experts on the relevant scientific questions, such assessments can attain higher scientific quality and are better able to withstand partisan attacks; (2) national assessments risk the perception or actuality of being subordinated to national policy priorities; and (3) by rendering competing parallel assessments scientifically superfluous, well done international assessments control the risk that minor or unintentional disparities in coverage, emphasis, or tone between parallel national assessments are exploited to exaggerate scientific disagreement in policy negotiations. The CCSP should acknowledge such successes in science-policy interactions in its revised strategic plan. The overall sense of insularity of the plan itself may hinder efforts to improve linkages with the international community. In particular, portions of the draft plan focus so strongly on decision support in the United States, on land cover in the United States, on the carbon cycle in the United States, and so forth that it is not at all clear what the balance may be between focusing on the United States itself and sponsoring research that is relevant to the rest of the world.
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research Of most concern is that the plan does not discuss how it intends to provide information to the IPCC. While there is no evidence of any such nationalism in the GCRP research community, the perception of insularity in the draft plan is of concern to the committee on two fronts. Scientifically, there is a danger that the emphasis on U.S. issues and resources will result in agencies choosing not to work in geographic regions outside the United States that are significant for understanding particularly important processes. The second issue relates to participation in international climate change research. The United States has been the source of about half the global research investment historically and a leader in many activities internationally, yet there is little discussion in the draft strategic plan of how and whether the U.S. program will participate in international arenas. This insular approach could alienate international contributions to U.S. science. Recommendation: The revised strategic plan should clearly describe how the CCSP will contribute to and benefit from international research collaborations and assessments. PUBLIC The draft strategic plan appropriately recognizes the importance of efforts to communicate with the public and to promote outreach for K-12 education. Chapter 13 of the draft plan accurately describes the need for improved public understanding of climate change, and lists a number of mechanisms that could be used for this purpose. Though important, the recommendations for action in Chapter 13 of the plan are so broad and without prioritization that it will be difficult to accomplish all or even many of them. The revised chapter on communications and outreach should better identify which recommendations have the highest priorities and which agency has the responsibility for ensuring that they are carried out. The committee notes that the draft plan itself, with its dense prose, is not easily accessible to intelligent nonexperts, and certainly not to laypersons. The draft plan would communicate with the public much more effectively if it included clearly articulated vision, goals, and priorities for the program, as discussed in Chapter 2 of this report. SCIENTISTS The draft strategic plan makes clear that the scientific community will play important roles in carrying out research and in advising the program through scientific advisory processes. The program has established strong linkages and two-way communication with the scientific community in general. An indication of this was the strong representation of the scientific community at the December planning workshop, with the exception of some areas of science that have not traditionally received funding from the GCRP. The document itself is generally effective in communicating with the scientific community about problems and research areas. As discussed in Chapter 2 of this report, however, the plan could be more effective in conveying to the scientific community an integrated, reasoned “strategic plan” for climate change and associated global change science. EFFECTIVENESS OF QUESTION FORMAT The committee commends the authors for focusing each chapter on a short list of questions or problems, and believes that this should be done consistently throughout the strategic plan. The committee found the question format particularly effective in dealing with well-specified tasks related to improved understanding of physical and chemical processes. The format was less effective in dealing with issues that cross several chapters, such as those related to human dimensions and decision support tasks, which should be better integrated into relevant chapters. CONCLUDING REMARKS The committee commends the CCSP for undertaking the challenging task of developing a strategic plan, an important first step in enhancing how the program communicates with its wide range of stakeholders. The current draft of the plan represents a good start to the process. Further, the CCSP has made genuine overtures to researchers and the broader stakeholder community to gain feedback on the draft strategic plan and how to improve it. The planning workshop in December 2002 attracted hundreds of attendees. The workshop summaries presented by the program’s leaders (see <http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/workshop2002/closingsession>) indicated that they were attentive to the issues raised by the workshop participants. In addition to the workshop, the CCSP established a mechanism for interested parties to submit written comments on the draft plan. These efforts indicate a strong interest on the part of the CCSP to develop a plan that is consistent with current scientific thinking and is responsive to the nation’s needs for information on climate and associated global changes.
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