Engagement in the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment: commitment, capacity, and communication for impact


The National Climate Assessment’s ability to support decision-making partly relies on engaging stakeholders throughout the assessment process. The guiding vision for the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA3) was for an inclusive, broad-based, and sustained process attentive to both the conduct of assessments and communication of findings. Such a process promotes dialogue between scientific experts, stakeholders, and decision-makers about what is important in a particular region or sector, the potential impacts of climate change, and possible responses. We sought to create actionable research and assessment products widely perceived as credible, salient, and legitimate. The process also sought to build capacity to conduct sustained assessments and use climate change information in decision-making processes. Here we describe how we pursued this stakeholder engagement vision during the planning, development, and release of NCA3. Through repeated opportunities for stakeholder. input, we ensured process transparency and inclusiveness in the framing of assessment and built human capital. We also increased connectivity among stakeholder organizations. By cultivating a network of collaborators who connected the NCA to other networks, the NCA3 engagement process laid the groundwork for a sustained assessment - which is envisaged to transition the traditional quadrennial assessment approach into a more dynamic and adaptive assessment process.

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  1. 1.

    The NCADAC charter is available at http://downloads.globalchange.gov/nca/NCADAC/NCADAC_Charter_6-24-13.pdf.

  2. 2.

    This working group was also charged to focus on how to design and embed ongoing evaluation of the entire NCA process into the assessment process, until the topic was deemed to deserve its own working group. Evaluation was eventually included as a recommendation in the sustained assessment special report (Buizer et al. 2013).

  3. 3.

    More information about INCA is available from http://www.globalchange.gov/about/iwgs#INCA.

  4. 4.

    All workshops described and outputs archived at http://www.globalchange.gov/engage/process-products/NCA3/workshops.

  5. 5.

    Author teams were responsible for deciding whether cited source material met information quality standards. NCADAC-developed guidance for assuring information quality is available from http://www.globalchange.gov/sites/globalchange/files/NCADAC-Nov2011-Information-Quality-Principles.pdf.

  6. 6.

    More information about the composition and operation of NCAnet at http://ncanet.usgcrp.gov.

  7. 7.

    All town halls and related materials available at http://www.globalchange.gov/engage/process-products/NCA3/workshops#Town Halls.

  8. 8.

    The stakeholder event is archived at http://www.c-span.org/video/?319224-2/white-house-unveils-climate-assessment-report.


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Correspondence to Emily Cloyd.

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This article is part of a special issue on “The National Climate Assessment: Innovations in Science and Engagement” edited by Katharine Jacobs, Susanne Moser, and James Buizer.

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Cloyd, E., Moser, S.C., Maibach, E. et al. Engagement in the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment: commitment, capacity, and communication for impact. Climatic Change 135, 39–54 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-015-1568-y

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  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Sustained Assessment
  • Stakeholder Involvement
  • Engagement Strategy
  • Engagement Process