Climate change is an incredibly complex problem that requires relatively sophisticated analytic resources to address. Regional decision makers often lack guidance and understanding about how to effectively address climate impacts; they often do not have access to the latest science on climate impacts in a useful and accessible format and at relevant spatial and temporal scales; planning is often based on experience and historical observations rather than future projections from climate models; they may not have the capacity, tools, or expertise necessary to address uncertainties and incorporate the information into planning processes. Academic institutions on the other hand are particularly well equipped to conduct the detailed analysis required.
Universities are increasingly focused on climate change, both in the basic sciences and in applied fields (planning, architecture, etc.). Many are increasingly interested in working on “real-world” community issues, and are open to working with local partners to build research programs and projects. Getting to know the faculty and student groups working on these issues can be an invaluable resource regarding understanding your regional impacts, and building a plan of action to move forward.
Universities are important partners of regional adaptation collaboratives. University researchers provide relevant information and data to local policy- and decision-makers, thus leading to better reasoned and strategic planning efforts and actions on climate mitigation and adaptation. An integral aspect of this partnership is understanding that the information flows both ways: University staff must engage local practitioners to understand their data needs and policy development, and local practitioners must engage with universities to understand both the research taking place and how it can be useful to their particular climate planning and implementation needs.
“As one of the state’s land grant institutions, UC Davis has a long history of engaging in research with a focus on solving real-world problems. In the context of climate change, the UC Davis community is highly proactive in providing the research and education necessary to inform adaptation efforts. The UC Davis Policy Institute is a proud partner of Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative and seeks to be a source of credible, relevant and timely information to the region.”
– Anthony Eggert, Executive Director, University of California Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy
Among ARCCA members, universities have been strong partners in many regions. University of California Davis is a founding member of the Capital Region’s Climate Readiness Collaborative. University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is a founding member and fiscal agent for the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability (LARC). The UCLA School of Public Health and the UCLA Lewis Center are both members of LARC. In addition, Loyola Marymount University is a member of LARC. The USC/Sea Grant Program is also a LARC member. The San Diego Climate Collaborative is housed at University of San Diego.
Engaging Other Private Organizations
In addition to local universities, there are benefits to engaging other private organizations such as non-profits. A given region might have one or more non-profit organizations that can provide technical assistance in the areas of regional collaboration and adaptation. Private consultants might also be engaged on a project-by-project basis.