Native Nations face unique challenges related to climate change, many of which are detailed in recent reports as part of the U.S. National Climate Assessment (Bennett et al. 2014; Hiza Redsteer et al. 2013). Native Americans have a deep connection to the natural environment within which their livelihoods, cultural identity, and spiritual practices are rooted. Changes to hydrologic regimes, landscapes, and ecosystems, in combination with socio-economic and political factors, amplify tribal vulnerabilities to climate change.
In the Southwest, tribes are already experiencing a range of impacts that are at least partially related to climate change. They include serious water supply and water quality issues in the context of prolonged drought; loss of ecosystem services and reduced ability to grow or collect important traditional crops and raw materials; increased impacts to forest resources from large and landscape-transforming wildfires due to drought, aridity, and insect infestations; health impacts from heat waves, dust storms, and smoke from wildfires; and the potential spread of infectious diseases from geographic shifts in disease vectors. The remoteness of many villages also compounds difficulties in aiding tribal members during extreme weather events such as floods and heat waves, leading to overstressed emergency management systems.
The Department of the Interior (DOI) Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science (ACCCNRS) recently recommended that DOI “undertake concerted efforts to support the engagement of tribes and indigenous peoples in federal climate-related science investments, including building their capacity to access and benefit from the services provided by the Climate Science Centers, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs), and National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center.” At present, the Southwest Climate Science Center (SW CSC) has limited capacity to address these recommendations, but it nonetheless recognizes the urgency and importance of tribal engagement. The Desert LCC also recognizes the importance of tribal engagement and has formed a Tribal Working Group to help the partnership determine how to best serve tribes who are working on climate change issues. However, the Desert LCC also has limited capacity to address the recommendations from the Tribal Working Group.
With baseline funding from the Agnese Nelms Haury Program, the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions (CCASS) at the University of Arizona (UA) recently launched a Native Nations Climate Adaptation Program (NNCAP) “to enhance the ability of Native Americans and their Nations to meet the climate challenge.” This new initiative’s program objectives align well with DOI priorities.
Click on title to download individual files attached to this item.
Potential Metadata Source