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Climate Change Hero

Climate Change Blog

  • 09
  • January
  • 2015

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EPA Office of International and Tribal Affairs Releases Climate Change Adaptation Plan

On Friday, October 31, 2014, the EPA Office of International and Tribal Affairs (“OITA”) released its final Climate Change Adaptation Plan, describing how it will implement its programs, policies, rules, and operations in a changing climate. As part of part of EPA’s agency-wide effort to adapt its operations to climate change, each region and office has released its own plan. OITA works with other nations to identify and address international environmental issues. It also includes the American Indian Environmental Office, which strengthens public health and environmental protection in Indian nations. Information about the adaptation plan of the Office of Air and Radiation is available here, and information about the Office of Water’s plan is available here

OITA conducted a “vulnerability assessment” to identify key areas of concern at the international and tribal levels. International vulnerabilities included lack of basic data, networking, and information sharing mechanisms that would allow partner countries to assess and mitigate their exposure to the risks of climate change. Meanwhile, tribes face erosion, temperature change, drought, and changes in access to water. Through a formal consultative process with EPA, the tribes requested financial and technical support, community-level education and awareness materials, better coordination among federal agencies, and the incorporation of tribes’ Traditional Ecological Knowledge into EPA’s policymaking.   

The OITA plan articulates actions the Office will take to respond to tribal requests and international concerns, as well as its criteria for prioritizing them. Those criteria include the extremity of the vulnerability, whether the vulnerability affects regions bordering the United States, whether the action’s benefits can be measured or documented, and whether OITA has “the necessary resources to meaningfully and effectively help address its partner vulnerabilities. . . .” 

OITA’s International Priority Actions focus on building and disseminating information, especially to partner countries along our borders and members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. OITA also plans to work with the annual Resilient Cities Congress and the Durban Adaptation Charter cities to share city and municipal government knowledge. This is important because “cities are first responders to climate/weather disasters. . . .” Additionally, OITA will work with the Arctic Council and the International Maritime Organization to address the region’s acute climate change.

The Tribal Priority Actions, meanwhile, will include the education of EPA scientists regarding tribes’ Traditional Ecological Knowledge, the use of Indian General Assistance Program funds for climate change adaptation purposes, and the promotion of Tribal ecoAmbassador programs in partnership with tribal colleges and universities.

Finally, OITA will evaluate the success of its efforts on a five-year basis using a Performance Measurement Framework, which will include 26 different metrics. International metrics will include the number of partner engagements OITA conducted, progress toward achieving identified policy goals, EPA-based tools implemented by partner organizations, and the number of partnerships, alliances, or networks established or enhanced. The measures of OITA’s success with tribes will include monitoring how tribes apply for and use Indian General Assistance program funds for climate change adaptation, and using these examples to improve OITA’s technical and financial support of tribes adapting to climate change.

Posted by Ross Woessner at 01/09/2015 1:00 PM 

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Author

Ross Woessner

Ross Woessner Associate