Designing Policies in a World of Uncertainty, Change and Surprise
Adaptive Policy-Making for Agriculture and Water Resources in the Face of Climate Change
Climate change introduces huge unknowns for policy-making: we know that the globe is warming, that typical precipitation patterns will change and floods and droughts will become more common and more severe. But the precise nature of the impacts and their extent remain, and will always remain, impossible to predict. Increasing our capacity to cope with this dynamic future is imperative. Public policies can help build this capacity. However, a key challenge is developing policies that are robust enough to be useful in a rapidly changing and uncertain future.
Designing policies in a world of uncertainty, change, and surprise is a challenge facing policy-makers in all sectors. The specific objective of this multi-year project (2005–2009) is to advance the understanding of adaptive policies and to help government agriculture and water resource policy-makers at the local, state and federal levels design adaptive policies—policies that can:
adapt to anticipated conditions
"No-regrets" policies and "Automatic Adjustment" based on triggers and actions.
adapt to unanticipated conditions
Perhaps most importantly, principles for intervening in complex adaptive systems yield many insights for improving policy adaptation to unanticipated conditions, as do structured learning processes such as scheduled policy reviews and re-adjustments.
We are advancing our understanding of adaptive policies in three ways:
The project research partners include the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in Canada and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in India. This work is carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ottawa, Canada.
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