Governor Green appoints SOEST scientists for climate resilience, marine affairs

Governor Josh Green, M.D., is marking Earth Day 2024, by announcing the appointment of Charles “Chip” Fletcher as Special Advisor for Climate and Resilience and David Karl as Chair of the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Marine Affairs. These appointments signify the Governor’s commitment to addressing critical environmental challenges and advancing initiatives for sustainable development in the state.

“Amid the challenges of climate change, Earth Day reminds us of the importance of proactive environmental action. With the appointments of Dr. Chip Fletcher and Dr. David Karl, we’re reinforcing our commitment to sustainability and resilience in Hawai’i. Their expertise will drive initiatives to protect our communities and natural resources for generations to come. Together, we’re shaping a brighter, more sustainable future for our keiki,” said Governor Green.

Fletcher, currently serving as the Interim Dean of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, brings extensive expertise in climate change, coastal community resiliency, and natural coastal systems. With a dedicated research team focused on climate modeling and identifying climate hazards, particularly in underserved communities, Fletcher’s work has been instrumental in advancing strategies to make Hawai’i more resilient to climate change impacts. As Special Advisor for Climate and Resilience, Fletcher will play a pivotal role in advising the Governor on issues related to climate adaptation, drawing upon his years of experience and dedication to environmental stewardship. Fletcher is also the former Chair of the Honolulu Climate Commission; served on the Kailua Neighborhood Board and on the State Legacy Lands Commission.

Dr. Chip Fletcher
Chip Fletcher

“I am honored to serve as Special Advisor for Climate and Resilience and look forward to working closely with Governor Green to address the urgent challenges posed by climate change,” Fletcher said. “Together, we will strive to ensure that Hawai’i remains at the forefront of climate resilience efforts, protecting our communities and natural resources for future generations.”

David Karl, a distinguished Professor of Oceanography and Director of the Daniel K. Inouye Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) at the University of Hawai’i, has been appointed as Chair of the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Marine Affairs. With a remarkable career spanning more than four decades, Karl has made significant contributions to microbial oceanography and marine research, including the establishment of the Hawai‘i Ocean Time-series (HOT) program. As Chair of the Advisory Committee on Marine Affairs, Karl will lead efforts to consolidate planning and execution on the blue economy, fostering collaboration among stakeholders and developing actionable recommendations to support sustainable ocean-related policies and initiatives.

David Karl

“I am deeply honored to accept the role of chair of the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Marine Affairs,” said Karl. “Together, we will harness the expertise and resources available to us to advance the new blue economy, promoting economic diversification and environmental stewardship.”

The team led by Karl will update the 50-year-old “Hawaiʻi and the Sea — 1974” report prepared for the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Science and Technology and published by the state of Hawaiʻi Department of Planning and Economic Development, known now as the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. The 1974 report reviewed state actions taken since a similar report in 1969 and emphasized areas of urgent concern such as the environment and population growth, and explored diversification of economic opportunities for the state.

Read also on Honolulu Civil Beat, the Governor’s Newsroom, and UH News. Listen to the interview with Fletcher and Karl on Hawai’i Public Radio.