Shared solutions to protect shared values

  • Children with fish. Photo by Carl Zitsman / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Canada lynx. Photo by Hal Brindley
  • Coral reef. Photo by Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Climate change is already here. It is clear from current trends and future projections that we are now committed to a certain amount of changes and impacts, making climate adaptation planning a critical part of responding to this complex challenge. Coordinated adaptation planning can help limit the damage caused by climate change to our natural resources and communities, and will require new approaches, additional resources, and a pragmatic perspective.

Most simply, climate adaptation means helping people and natural systems prepare for and cope with the effects of a changing climate. More specifically, the IPCC defines climate adaptation as:

"Adjustment in natural or human system in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities."

Climate adaptation is an essential complement to climate change mitigation, which refers to efforts to decrease the rate and extent of climate change through reducing greenhouse gas emissions or enhancing carbon uptake and storage.

This Strategy is a key component of the growing effort by federal, state and tribal governments and non-governmental entities to reduce risks and impacts of climate change. The Strategy drew from existing adaptation efforts by States, Federal agencies and others and is designed to complement and support such efforts.

State Efforts:

A wide variety of state-level climate change planning is either in place or in progress across the country. The majority of states have produced or are developing climate action plans laying out goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and many have developed impact assessments to examine how climate change will continue to affect local resources, communities, infrastructure, and landscapes. Many states have also worked to integrate management recommendations for habitats or species impacted by climate change into existing State Wildlife Action Plans.

In addition, a growing number of states are putting forward true climate adaptation plans or strategies, detailing strategies for addressing and reducing climate impacts and planning for coming changes. These adaptation efforts have been instigated through both executive orders from the governor as well as legislative mandates, and often involve cross-sector working groups or advisory councils with representatives from various state agencies as well as academics, industry, and the public.

Selected State Efforts:

More state adaptation planning efforts are collected here

Tribal Efforts:

Tribes across the country are working to plan and prepare for coming climate changes on their lands and natural resources. Many tribes are already seeing impacts from climate change firsthand, and are developing innovative adaptation and mitigation strategies at the regional and local level.

For more information on resources for tribes working to build understanding of climate change and its impacts on their communities, visit:

Selected Tribal Efforts:

Federal Efforts:

At the federal level, the Administration is working to address the needs of public health, communities, coasts, wildlife, and water resources across agencies and departments. The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy (Strategy) is an important part of this response. Related efforts include:

  • National Ocean Policy: The National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan was released in April of 2013, in response to the call for the development of a Strategic Action Plan to Strengthen the Resilience of Coastal, Ocean, and Great Lakes Ecosystems through Executive Order 13547. The Order established a National Ocean Policy and tasked the interagency National Ocean Council with developing strategic action plans to achieve nine national priority objectives that address some of the most pressing challenges facing our ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes. It includes series of actions to address the adaptation to climate change and ocean acidification. Development was well coordinated with the Strategy and many recommendations are shared.
  • National Action Plan for Freshwater Resources: In October of 2011, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released the National Action Plan: Priorities for Managing Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate to provide an overview of the challenges that a changing climate presents for the management of the Nation's freshwater resources, and describe actions that Federal agencies propose to take in response to these challenges. The Interagency Task Force’s Water Resources Working Group led the development of this national plan with input from key stakeholders. Implementation of this Action Plan is being well coordinated with implementation of the Strategy.