Science Informing Public Policy - July 2012
The New Jersey Climate Adaptation Alliance is a network of policymakers, public and private sector practitioners, academics, and NGO and business leaders designed to build climate change preparedness capacity in New Jersey. The mission of the Alliance is to identify, demonstrate, recommend and communicate policies and cost effective activities that can prepare New Jersey’s vulnerable sectors to better meet the anticipated impacts of climate change through the following:
- Identification of science and research needs to support actions at the state and local levels;
- Development of recommendations for state and local policy;
- Development and enhancement of climate change preparedness and adaptation capacity in the public and private sector, including development of tools and training where needed;
- Facilitation of demonstration, pilot and other projects to show the value of climate change preparedness;
- Communications and education to the general public, decision-makers, practitioners and stakeholders.
The Alliance is facilitated by Rutgers University which provides science and technical support, facilitates the Alliance’s operations and advances its recommendations.
The impetus for establishing of the Alliance was a consensus recommendation by participants at a statewide workshop on Preparing New Jersey for Climate Change held on November 29, 2011 at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey. Organized by Clean Air-Cool Planet in partnership with the Rutgers University Climate and Environmental Change Initiative and the Bloustein School, with support from PSEG, the workshop brought together a broad array of experts to discuss climate change impacts of particular importance to New Jersey. Over the course of one day, experts gathered to better understand the risks and economic impacts to New Jersey from climate change. This forum provided an opportunity for participants to begin a dialogue on ways in which New Jersey can and should prepare for the devastating impacts that a changing climate and rising sea levels will have on the State’s economy, the health of its residents, its natural resources, and the extensive infrastructure systems that deliver transportation services, energy and clean water to millions of New Jerseyans.
Preparing New Jersey for Climate Change: A Workshop for Decision Makers served to increase awareness of climate change impacts and issues. Participants pointed to the need to create a network in New Jersey that would provide opportunities for information exchange, best practice development, and public communications related to climate change adaptation and preparedness. Participants pointed, in particular, to the devastating impact that climate change will have on the State’s economy and quality of life. As a densely populated coastal State, which is rife with aging infrastructure and housing stock, New Jersey remains highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Consensus at the workshop pointed to the need for New Jersey to act now to prepare our residents, our communities, and our infrastructure for increased extreme weather events, high heat days, flooding and sea level rise. Considerable discussion also pointed to the valuable role that Rutgers, as the State University, can play in helping to facilitate such a network. As a result of these recommendations, the University has established the Alliance in an effort to facilitate discussion on climate change adaptation issues, policies, science and strategies among state practitioners, leaders and policymakers. Proceedings, presentations and videos from the November 29, 2011 inaugural conference are available at: http://climatechange.rutgers.edu/njadapt.
This document serves to summarize the Alliance’s Strategic Workplan for the upcoming twelve months. The Workplan focuses on the following climate change impacts and sectors of New Jersey’s economy:
The Alliance will serve as a forum for dialogue, development of tools and recommendations, as well as project implementation for a variety of organizations and individuals including members of the scientific community, subject area experts, state and local decision-makers, sector practitioners, the NGO community and stakeholder representatives.
The first year of the Strategic Workplan will focus on the following four areas:
- Development of recommendations for state and local action.
The Alliance will analyze current science and leading practices and create processes that involve both collaboration with subject area and scientific experts throughout New Jersey, as well as consultation with New Jersey stakeholders and practitioners. These efforts will result in development of recommendations for public policies at the state and local level to ensure New Jersey’s preparedness for climate change impacts in the targeted sectors. Materials will be developed that summarize anticipated climate change impacts and leading practices for adaptation preparedness. Scientists and subject area experts from throughout New Jersey will be asked to review written materials for public distribution. Forums will be established to consult with stakeholders to better understand their needs and potential effective strategies for climate change preparedness. Written recommendations for state and local action will be prepared and reviewed by practitioners and sector leaders. A communication strategy will be developed to ensure that decision-makers benefit from the information that is developed as a result of these analyses and dialogues.
- Assessment of vulnerability and preparedness options for targeted business sectors.
The Alliance will work in partnership with representatives of targeted business sectors to assess impacts of climate change on those business sectors. These efforts will analyze potential impacts to business operations in New Jersey (e.g., extreme temperatures, flooding), as well as factors outside New Jersey that may affect business operations (e.g., supply chain disruptions as a result of agricultural impacts). Initially, the Alliance will develop a draft standard protocol for business sector vulnerability analyses, leveraging previous efforts that have addressed other vulnerabilities for New Jersey business sectors (i.e. homeland security). The Alliance will work in partnership with affected-sector representatives to pilot the draft standard protocol and subsequently expand application of a final protocol to other business sectors. In addition, the development of these business sector protocols is expected to identify adaptation-related economic development opportunities, as well as enhancements to higher education curricula that may be needed to prepare New Jersey’s future workforce for changing business operations as a result of climate change.
- Communications and education of the general public, decision-makers, targeted stakeholders, and practitioners and operation of a “clearinghouse” function for climate preparedness activities in New Jersey.
The Alliance will develop a communications plan to ensure that its efforts effectively educate the general public, and inform the decision-making stakeholders, practitioners and policymakers. Multimedia materials will be produced and disseminated to increase overall public understanding of the nature of climate change impacts, as well as to inform development of recommendations and efforts for climate change preparedness action in New Jersey. The Alliance will serve as a forum for public information on ongoing climate adaptation efforts in New Jersey along with identification of gaps in capacity and public policy that are needed to advance leading preparedness practices. It will facilitate dialogue among practitioners within key sectors so as to increase preparedness efforts within both the public and private sector. It will also serve as a forum for exchange between the scientific community and practitioners, allowing for integration between science and action by practitioners and decision-makers. The Alliance will also work closely with local officials (i.e., emergency responders, planners, public health officers) to assess the need for climate change preparedness tools and, in partnership with local officials and others, develop the needed tools and build capacity for their utilization at the local level. Finally, through collaboration with practitioners and scientists throughout New Jersey, the Alliance will explore the development of a common mapping platform that could provide helpful information to the general public, as well as inform decision-making and operations of state and local planners by allowing application of geospatial renderings of climate change projections and impacts.
- Facilitation of demonstration, pilot and other projects that show the value of climate change preparedness and expand preparedness in New Jersey.
For each of its targeted sectors (See Figure 1 above), the Alliance will work in collaboration with partners in the public and private sector to undertake demonstration, pilot and other projects to expand capacity for and demonstrate the value of climate change preparedness. Through inventorying ongoing climate adaptation efforts in New Jersey along with identification of gaps in public policy and preparedness capacity, the Alliance Advisory Committee is identifying priorities for collaborative projects. Several "multisector" projects will focus on reviewing those regulations and statewide plans that determine long-term investment of public monies in infrastructure; developing model ordinances; and, establishing generic principles to monitor adaptation efforts. Sector-specific projects will focus on assessing specific vulnerabilities within each sector, as well as identifying leading practices to increase climate change preparedness within the sector.The Alliance welcomes involvement in its effort by participants in academia, the NGO community, the private sector and state and local governments, as well as members of the general public. Through collaboration, sharing of leading practices, and assessment of the latest science, the Alliance strives to prepare New Jersey for the impacts of climate change through the implementation of policies and practices that improve the overall quality of life for New Jersey’s residents and enhance our economic prosperity. For more information please see http://climatechange.rutgers.edu/njadapt.