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Advancing Adaptation in a New Political Climate

This post is a letter from ASAP Board Chair Steve Adams to the ASAP membership community.

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

The ugliest, most divisive presidential campaign in living memory concluded last week with a result that very few expected. The orderly transfer of power has begun and we are now beginning to hear what the priorities will be for the new administration and the 115th Congress. I think all of us, no matter how we voted, are now in the process of finding our footing in the wake of what seemed to most a low probability, high consequence event.

As adaptation practitioners, we work daily with the challenges of enabling people to embrace and move through uncertainty. We find a new source of uncertainty in our work with a changing national political and social environment. The communities many of us work in may face new challenges coming together. Many of our members in federal agencies, NGOs and research institutions currently supported by federal appropriations may be at risk. Federal support for climate science and translation tools may be reduced. And our members working in conservation biology and ecosystem resilience fear a reversal in basic environmental protections that will further stress already too-fragile natural systems.

But we don’t yet know.

The task at hand for those of us who self-identify as adaptation professionals is to fully acknowledge these uncertainties for what they are and to continue forward in building out our profession by embracing all we know about how to do this work well. By doing so, we become a source of light in what many fear may be dark days for this nation. Our work also has the opportunity to help bridge the many existing divides within the United States that this election season has made so much more visible.

ASAP will continue to advocate for the importance of aggressive climate change adaptation and the interests of our members. In nearly every respect, the importance of our work in climate change adaptation is amplified in the wake of this electoral cycle. Even if our progress in reducing emissions is blunted in the next four years, we know that our communities and our nation will continue to experience the impacts the emissions already aloft: extreme weather, sea level rise, and expanding vector-borne illness, to name a few. We must continue to provide the leadership necessary to advance the resilience of the places, sectors and people with whom we work.

I’m grateful for the efforts, leadership and vision that each of you bring to your work on a daily basis. I’m proud to count myself among the membership of the American Society of Adaptation Professionals, and I’m inspired anew by your continued commitment to a climate resilient nation.

Keep up the good work,

Steve Adams
ASAP Executive Board, President
Director of Urban Resilience
Institute for Sustainable Communities