WICCI represents a unique and innovative process to develop a statewide climate change adaptation strategy. WICCI has formed through a non-bureaucratic, bottom-up approach to engage scientists, researchers and management agencies in understanding the impacts of climate change on communities and natural resources across the state, and to develop strategies to make them more resilient to climate change.
WICCI was established in the fall of 2007 as a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin–Madison's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR). Prior to WICCI's formation, both entities had independently begun to examine the issue of climate change impacts. The Nelson Institute effort began in response to questions from state legislators who wanted to understand how climate change could affect their constituents. The WDNR effort was in response to agency staff concerns about how climate change would impact the state's natural resources for which the agency had stewardship and management responsibilities. A joint meeting of 40 UW-Madison and agency scientists in early summer 2007 became the springboard for joining forces and launching a statewide effort. Following that meeting, a small, ad-hoc group of scientists from both entities developed the structure of WICCI – an organization that quickly grew to include representatives from other state and federal agencies, several UW System schools, tribal organizations, businesses and non-profit groups.