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Colorado Conference on Earth System Governance: Crossing Boundaries and Building Bridges

May 18, 2011

Max Boykoff, Lisa Dilling, Christina Kirchhoff, and Kelli Archie participating in the Colorado Conference on Earth System Governance to be held 17-20 May 2011 on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins. This conference is part of a global series organized by the Earth System Governance Project, a ten-year research program under the auspices of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP). The first Earth System Governance conference was held in Amsterdam in December 2009. The Colorado Conference on Earth System Governance is hosted jointly by the Environmental Governance Working Group and the School of Global Environmental Sustainability at Colorado State University along with the IHDP Earth System Governance Project. Conference Website.


Linking the 5As (Linking across Scale)
Presenter: Heike Schroeder Author(s): Heike Schroeder, Max Boykoff
Analysing the makeup and discourse of UNFCCC national delegations through 15 years of COPs

Over the past 15 years, national delegations at UNFCCC meetings have grown significantly in size and diversified in composition, mainly due to the negotiations shifting and expanding in content and complexity. From the emergence of the Clean Development Mechanism to the construction of an Adaptation Fund, a predilection for market-based mechanisms has emerged to address climate change.

Delegations have traditionally been composed of civil servants, but they may also include civil society representatives and international advisors. So far there have been no rules on size and composition of delegations: this has led certain countries to send large delegations and include a diverse mix of stakeholders. This development has two significant effects: (1) the numbers of national and observer organisation delegates are exceeding the capacity of conference venues; and (2) observer organisation delegations are being capped, leading to national delegations inviting observers to attend meetings as part of their delegation. By implication, this continues to blur boundaries between national delegations and observer organisations.

This paper addresses questions of agency and accountability by analyzing two key dimensions - size/composition and discursive shifts - in twenty selected delegations from Annex I and non-Annex I countries. In so doing, this paper seeks to provide insights regarding perils and possibilities in ongoing negotiations, to assess how these shifts may be democratizing and/or confusing negotiations through the incorporation of more varied nonstate actors, and to appraise to what extent these changes will help or hinder efforts to significantly address climate change and its effects.


Linking across Scale (Linking Research to Practice)
Presenter: Christine Kirchhoff Author(s): Christine Kirchhoff, Lisa Dilling
Managing Water Resources in a Changing Climate: Understanding Drivers and Constraints to Adaptation Policy and Planning across Scales and Levels of Decision Making

Water managers have long experienced the challenges of managing water resources in a variable climate. However, climate change has the potential to reshape the experiential landscape by, for example, increasing the intensity and duration of droughts and the frequency of extreme events. Climate change also poses further challenges as rising sea levels may threaten coastal aquifers and surface water intakes.

The IPCC (2007) defines adaptation to climate risks as “adjustments to reduce vulnerability or enhance resilience in response to observed or expected changes in climate” (p. 720). For the purposes of this research adaptation includes management, planning, policy or other actions taken by local, regional, or state level water managers in response to current climatic variability, medium- to long-term climatic trends, or climate change.

We seek to understand drivers and constraints to adaptation policy and planning from the local to regional to state level water resources management across ten U.S. states. Our analysis focuses on actual and planned adaptations using a mixed method approach involving interviews and surveys of water managers across scales and levels of decision making. We hypothesize that adaptation to current and anticipated climate-related risks is facilitated by the existence of an iterative, relevant supply of scientific information and advice. We also examine existing policies or regulatory structures that may constrain adaptation actions in spite of knowledge of climate-related risks. Lastly, we evaluate the effectiveness of adaptation actions for building resilience to climate-related risks in the water sector.


Linking Research to Practice
Presenter: Kelli Archie Author(s): Kelli Archie, Lisa Dilling
Climate Change Adaptation and Western Public Lands: Do Decision Makers Have the Information and Tools They Need to Govern?

Climate change and its associated consequences increasingly threaten the physical landscape of and ecosystem services delivered by public lands in the Western United States. Much science exists that details projected changes in climate and land cover, strategies that are available to adapt to future conditions, and adaptation activities that are currently taking place. However, it is not obvious that public lands managers are aware of such resources nor that the science itself is always practically usable. This paper seeks to examine the information needs of public lands managers in the Western US and to explore whether demand for information varies across types of public land agencies (NPS, USFS, BLM, FWS). Through case studies and surveys, we examine the difficulties managers currently face in regard to implementation of adaptation strategies, what information they currently use and why, and what types of additional resources decision makers need in order to prepare for adaptation. This study can be viewed under the overarching theme of how science can better support decision makers as they plan for adaptation to climate change. Recent research suggests that decision makers don't always make use of available resources and could greatly benefit from specific types of resources not currently available. Data that we collect detailing practitioner demand for information can be used to inform and direct future research, ensuring that adaptation science aligns properly with adaptation policy and practice.