Native American tribal governments, cross-sectoral climate policy, and the role of intertribal networks

Climatic Change, 2020, Aseem Prakash, Laura Evans, Nives Dolsak, and Megan Plog,

Complex policy problems such as climate change that spill over multiple issue areas or jurisdictions often require new policy approaches because sectoral (or territorial) policies are not designed to tackle the issue of policy spillovers. Yet, cross-sectoral policies upset the status quo and invite a political backlash from departments and individuals who fear erosion of their power, authority, budgets, or status. We offer one of the first studies to systematically examine conditions under which tribal governments develop cross-sectoral climate plans. Drawing on an original dataset of 239 tribes, our statistical analysis shows that tribal governments embedded in cross-tribal networks are more likely to develop cross-sectoral climate plans. While developing such policies is costly, the availability of monetary resources does not change tribes’ odds of developing cross-sectoral climate plans. Thus, the role of embeddedness in networks, as opposed to financial capacity, motivates tribes to adopt new policy approaches that are risky and yet more suitable to solve a problem with cross-sectoral spillovers.

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