International Joint Commission Climate Change Guidance Framework

The Hydrosystems Research Group is working on a Climate Change Guidance Framework for International Joint Commission (IJC) Boards.  The IJC is a bi-national organization established by the governments of the United States and Cananda under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909.  The way the Boards have operated has changed over time as water management generally has become more open and multi-objective.

The goal of the Climate Change Guidance Framework is to provide clear guidance to the Boards for addressing climate change in policy and operations using the best available institutional and organizational science and stakeholder inputs available.  The planning method consists of 4 primary steps: Organize, Analyze, Action, and Update.

Organize: each Board defines its objectives and performance measures for those objectives, assesses available data and information and high level climate concerns.  Answers questions:

  • Are there metrics to track success?
  • How might climate change affect the Board’s success in meeting their objectives?

Analyze: each board conducts an exercise to evaluate how changes in climate might produce different outcomes for Board objectives.  Typically requires formulation of mathematical models linking climate changes with performance objectives. Answers questions:

  • Which of those outcome changes are most important, for better and worse?
  • How plausible is that climate will change in the way required to cause these outcome shifts?

Action: The Board lists the possible actions that could be taken to address the climate concerns identified and ranks them according to effectiveness and costs.  Answers questions:

  • Which of those potential outcomes could the Board change?
  • What are the possible actions the Board could take to address the concerns identified?
  • What would be required for the Board to carry out this work?

Update: Application of adaptive management, the structured improvement of actions based on evidence acquired systematically over time.

The Hydrosystems Group will work with all Boards to implement Step One of the Guidance Framework – Organize.  The Group will work in depth with the St. Croix International Watershed Board to roll out all four steps of the Guidance Framework.  The Group will conduct workshops and hold meetings with members from all boards to carry out the Framework.

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