EVENT: Adaptation, Innovation and California’s Water Institutions

Adaptation, Innovation and California’s Water Institutions

Along with other stressors, climate change presents a serious threat to California’s water systems. Attitudes towards planned adaptation as a human response to climate change have changed dramatically in recent years, from skepticism to a broad recognition of its importance. Nonetheless, how to implement effective adaptation strategies in response to mounting evidence of projected climate impacts is far from obvious. I argue that many of the hurdles to effective action are institutional rather than technical. Almost by definition, adaptation actions will require innovation. However, the water sector is often characterized as conservative and risk averse in its decision-making. The need to innovate in a risk-averse environment may amplify challenges already present in decision-making under uncertainty. I will illustrate these issues by presenting my work on risk and risk aversion in the water sector as it relates to climate change responses and my work on innovation in the urban water sector.


Michael Kiparsky is Associate Director of the Wheeler Institute for Water Law & Policy at the UC Berkeley School of Law. Dr. Kiparsky has worked on technical and policy aspects of water resources management, and his overarching professional interest lies at the intersection between the two. He has published on governance and policy of complex water systems, risk analysis, climate change impacts and adaptation, innovation in urban water, and other topics. He was previously on the faculty at the University of Idaho, and has water-related experience in consulting, non-profit, and agency settings. Dr. Kiparsky earned a Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group, where he was an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, a Udall Scholar, a CALFED Science Scholar, and the first ACWA Steve Hall Water Law & Policy Scholar. He also holds an A.B. in Biology from Brown University. 

Event Type: 
Host / Series: 
CITRIS' Fall Speaker Series
UC Merced, SAAC 219
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 12:00pm