2B.3 Linking the Oregon Climate Assessment Report to the Oregon Climate Adaptation Framework: successes, challenges and lessons learned

Monday, 18 July 2011: 2:00 PM
Swannanoa (Asheville Renaissance)
Kathie D. Dello, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR; and P. W. Mote

The impacts of climate change are already being realized across the State of Oregon. Resilience needs to be built into human communities and fostered into natural communities to deal with the adverse impacts of climate change. Historically, Oregonians have always been planning for and adapting to climate variability, though the rate and uncertainty associated with future change is unprecedented.

In 2009, Governor Kulongoski sent a memo to State Agency Directors and asked them to work together in developing a climate change adaptation plan. Simultaneously, the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute (OCCRI) was beginning work on developing its inaugural statewide climate impacts assessment. This assessment, the Oregon Climate Assessment Report (OCAR), spans the physical, biological and social sciences, as per HB 3543 of the Oregon State Legislature. This parallel state-specific impacts analysis was crucial for serving as the foundation for developing the framework, primarily in identifying risk and assessing scientific confidence. Throughout the entire process, a liaison from the assessment effort participated in the adaptation framework development. With science having a seat at the table, we were able to share climate knowledge with the decision makers, as opposed to climate information.

The State initiated a three-tiered model for developing the framework. A staff-level workgroup was tasked with building the framework by identifying cross-cutting Oregon-specific risks, gaps in agency capacity, and needed actions. This tier was the workhorse of the process and developed a “confidence/consequence” matrix for assessing risk. The Director-level workgroup provided policy guidance and steered the direction and timeline of strategy development, at the behest of the third tier, the Governor's office. This year-long process built a decision-making infrastructure that previously did not exist and will continue to be used in the future.

The framework development encountered its share of challenges. A dismal state revenue forecast meant that there would be no new funds available for climate adaptation. Additionally, developing a shared lexicon was time consuming, but imperative, as words like risk and impact and uncertainty have different meanings to the science community and the planning community.

The final product of the year-long adaptation planning process was the December 2010 Oregon Climate Adaptation Framework. The framework was released at the same time as the OCAR and it identified 11 cross-cutting risks and a series of low-cost, short-term priority actions to be completed in the next biennium. In this paper, we advocate for sharing knowledge, and not just information, with decision makers. We found it strengthened the state adaptation planning process. We will share what worked well, the lessons that we learned, and what we will do differently in the next round.

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