Thursday, September 8, 2011

ITEP's Treasure Trove of Planning Resources for Tribal Climate Change Response

The Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) is about to hold two workshops in the U.S. Southwest to support the climate change planning of Native American (American Indian) tribes, the Southwest Tribal Climate Change Workshop, September 13-14, 2011, Flagstaff, AZ, and a course on climate change impacts, Climate Change on Tribal Lands, October 11-14, 2011, Flagstaff, AZ.

ITEP appears to be primarily focused on Southwest U.S. tribes (being based at Northern Arizona University), but it also has a great set of links to reference materials on climate change policy broadly relevant for tribal climate change planning (local, national U.S., Canadian, and international references).

One of the reference documents linked there is a set of recommendations on funds allocations for the Fiscal Year 2012 Department of the Interior (DOI) Climate Change Adaptation Initiative (PDF). The recommendations start off with brief, clear language the basis for why climate change planning is important to tribes, how climate change is disproportionately affecting tribes, and why the DOI should fund planning for climate change on tribal lands. The document makes this excellent point:

Due to a lack of financial resources, only a few of the 565 federally recognized tribes, such as the Swinomish Tribe, have developed or are developing adaptation plans, calculating their carbon footprints, and collaborating with states, local governments and federal agencies in joint climate adaptation efforts. By comparison, at least 36 of the 50 states have climate action plans.

The document is authored by a broad coalition of tribal organizations, including ITEP and twelve other groups: the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission, the Intertribal Agriculture Council, the Intertribal Timber Council, the National Congress of American Indians, the National Tribal Environmental Council, the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society, the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, the Swinomish Tribe, the Tulalip Tribes, and one non-tribal organization-- the National Wildlife Federation. (See the National Wildlife Federation’s Tribal Lands Conservation Program website:

The quote above brings up for me the question-- how far has the Pacific Northwest's Swinomish Tribe gotten with their climate change adaptation planning?

It appears, from the ITEP pertaining web page, that the Swinomish began planning in 2007, published the Swinomish Climate Change Initiative Climate Adaptation Action Plan (PDF, 144 pages) in October 2010, and are moving on to implementation. Read more here:

  • The Swinomish Climate Change Initiative Web Site, maintained by the Swinomish Office of Planning & Community Development (based in Washington State, just south of the U.S./Canadian border, across the strait from Vancouver Island, British Columbia)

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