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Inside the Greenhouse

2005 Workshop on RISA Science Policy
August 15-17, 2005

East-West Center
Honolulu, Hawaii


Final Workshop Report
Participant List
Image Gallery from Workshop
RISA Reports

SPARC, is focused on climate science policy, that is the process for and outcomes associated with setting priorities for scientific research under the CCSP in support of meeting the needs of policymakers.

SPARC convened a workshop to compare and assess science policy decision making across the RISA programs. Our expectation was that the RISAs would be a fruitful place to look for lesson on integrating the concerns of stakeholders with knowledge of climate science to develop scientific research priorities. With the workshop we sought out to distill lessons from the RISA programs approach to science policy for the broader CCSP (USGCRP/CCRI).

In April, 2002, the House Science Committee held a hearing to explore the connections of climate science and the needs of decision makers. The hearing charter included the following question : “Are our climate research efforts focused on the right questions?” And by “right questions” the Committee clearly meant questions whose answers are likely to lead to useful information to decision makers.

The Science Committee’s hearing highlighted the role of the NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) as a promising means to connect decision making needs with the research prioritization process:

“One approach to producing policy-relevant information is the regional assessment model, developed within NOAA and other agencies, that attempts to build a regional-scale picture of the interaction between climate change and the local environment from the ground up. By funding research on climate and environmental science focused on a particular region, [the RISA] program currently supports interdisciplinary research on climate-sensitive issues in five selected regions around the country. Each region has its own distinct set of vulnerabilities to climate change, e.g., water supply, fisheries, agriculture, etc., and RISA's research is focused on questions specific to each region. The regional assessments are developed in consultation with local stakeholders such as resource managers, farmers, and emergency responders. RISA has been called a step in the right direction by some, although the program is small (approximately $4 million in FY 2003), while others view it as a model that could guide some of the larger efforts within USGCRP.”

The RISA program is now 10 years old and has developed a significant body of experience in working to establish a two-way connection between decision makers and interdisciplinary science and assessment. This experience provides a rich resource for drawing lessons from the various RISA projects on how science priorities might be set, research implemented, and the resulting output transferred to operational agencies in support of the needs of decision makers.

Our 2005 workshop, hosted by the Hawaii and Pacific Islands RISA in Honolulu, HI, brought together ~30 participants from each of the RISA teams to address the questions such as the following:

1. How are stakeholders’ needs reflected in the research prioritization process?
2. How are stakeholders’ needs assessed and evaluated?
3. How does each RISA prioritize areas of research and assessment to which to devote its resources?
4. How does each RISA evaluate its resource allocation decisions?

Participants came from each of the NOAA RISA projects, the SPARC team, as well as others with expertise in science policy and climate.

The overarching goal of the workshop was to distill from the RISA projects those processes, institutions and other conditions that facilitate making decisions about climate science research priorities that lead to useful information for decision makers. We evaluated the extent to which climate science policy in the RISAs can serve as “a model that could guide some of the larger efforts within USGCRP.”

In addition to the workshop itself, products will include a report and preparation of at least one article for submission to a peer-reviewed journal.

For more information, contact Ami Nacu-Schmidt.