Managing Adaptation: Developing a Learning Infrastructure in the United States’ Federal System
Chapter 4 in Implementing Adaptation Strategies by Legal, Economic and Planning Instruments on Climate Change (Eike Albrecht et al., eds., 2014)
Though there is much solid evidence that anthropogenic climate change has already had and will increasingly have substantial adverse effects on biota and ecological processes, the chief barrier to effective natural resource governance over the next few decades will likely be the exceptional uncertainty that accompanies attempts to adapt to the effects of climate change on natural systems. Consequently, the effective adaptation of natural resource management to climate change hinges on the development of a regulatory infrastructure that provides public and private actors the capacity to assess and manage uncertainty. This chapter briefly sketches the options originally considered for natural resource governance in the United States, their insufficiency in the key function of managing uncertainty, and how to build a more effective federal system for managing natural resources in preparation for climate change. Uncertainty underscores the value of regulatory experimentation and learning in a largely decentralized and overlapping federal system, and suggests a crucial role for national governments and international institutions of promoting agency learning and inter-jurisdictional information sharing.