Expert Report

A Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Strategic Plan (2012)

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"Global change research" engages agencies and departments across the federal government in many diverse activities, coordinated by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). The USGCRP is developing a 10-year Strategic Plan to strengthen the Program's role in sustaining a strategically-driven, coordinated national effort. As independent advisor to the Program, a National Research Council committee has reviewed the draft Plan. The committee encourages the Program's intent to broaden its focus, to address not only climate change, but also “climate-related global changes,” and the committee identifies a number of key issues regarding the Program’s scope, goals, and capacity to meet those goals over the coming 10 years.

Key Messages

  • Although budget realities and practical challenges may constrain the proposed expansion of the USGCRP's scope, the committee encourages sustained efforts to expand the Program over time, along with efforts to better define what specific topics fall within the bounds of global change research.
  • An effective global change research enterprise requires an integrated observational system that fully integrates the social and ecological sciences.
  • Phasing in the newer elements of the Program will require identifying initial steps to develop critical science capacity that is currently lacking and to improve linkages between the production of knowledge and its use.
  • The Program needs an overall governance structure with the responsibility and resources to broaden the Program as proposed in the Strategic Plan.