Canada’s Climate Change Adaptation Platform
How can Canadian industries and communities adapt to a changing climate? That’s the question we aim to answer at Canada’s Climate Change Adaptation Platform, a “network of networks” led by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).
The Adaptation Platform has 14 working groups and each includes experts and stakeholders from a sector, such as coastal management, energy, mining, forestry or economics. Together, they set goals and work with governmental, private sector, academic, and community-based or not-for-profit organizations to reach them.
If you’re a decision maker in industry, communities or any level of government, you can use the knowledge and information generated by the Adaptation Platform to take action and adapt to our changing climate.
Tools and resources to support you
Tap into real-world examples and tools from NRCan-supported projects in the form of reports, case studies, webinars, websites, etc. They include best practices, risk assessment frameworks, by-law development plans, decision-making protocols, and more.
Planned retreat approaches to support resilience to climate change in Canada
This report, produced for Natural Resources Canada, examines proactive planned retreat approaches for adapting to a changing climate where increasing intensity, frequency, and extent of flooding, sea level rise, and shoreline erosion will increase risks for communities.
Probable maximum floods and dam safety in the climate of the 21st century
This report examines the methods used to estimate flood risk for dam design, and applies a method to incorporate projected climate change impacts to flood risk.
Adapting to climate change: an introduction for Canadian municipalities
This report provides municipal decision-makers and staff with information to help them understand the need for climate change adaptation and how to put adaptation measures in place.
Working group outcomes
NRCan co-funds adaptation projects, working with many of its stakeholders and the working groups, and addressing adaptation actions at each stage of the adaptation process, from background research and assessments to implementation, evaluation and monitoring. Click to learn about each working group’s priorities and view their project reports.
Provides a forum that brings together expertise in adaptation for the agricultural sector
Co-chaired by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture
The agricultural sector is inherently adaptable in that it continually manages weather and markets; however, agriculture relies on a stable and predictable climate for production. As the climate changes, more volatile and unpredictable weather can result in reduced yields and farm incomes through losses in crop and livestock production; degraded natural resources upon which the sector depends; increased costs for heating and cooling; increased demand for inputs, such as pesticides and nutrients; and increased cost for farm infrastructure to manage against flooding and drought.
While the agricultural sector will always be vulnerable to weather and climate, adaptation at farm and regional scales can build on-farm resilience to mitigate climate risks.
- Identify common issues, knowledge gaps and potential solutions related to adaptation in the agricultural sector
- Network, share information and develop relationships to enhance cooperation and collaboration on existing and potential agricultural adaptation initiatives
Advances biodiversity conservation and adaptation to climate change in Canada
Chaired by Parks Canada
There is clear evidence that climate change affects biodiversity, with profound social, cultural, economic and ecological impacts. Biodiversity and supporting ecosystem services can also make important contributions to climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. Given the scale and complexity of climate change, an integrated approach across governments, institutions, sectors and jurisdictions is required to support biodiversity and the many co-benefits of adaptation and conservation.
The objectives of the Working Group are to:
- Design and deliver a program of work related to climate change, and biodiversity conservation and adaptation
- Develop a state of play report that summarizes the issues and concerns pertaining to climate change and biodiversity in Canada as well as possible adaptation actions and priorities for the Working Group to consider in its program of work
- Network and share information with Working Group members, including adaptation best practices and efforts to mainstream adaptation into biodiversity conservation activities
Provides a forum to address common issues and needs related to adaptation in Canada’s coastal zone
Co-chaired by the NRCan Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Division and the Government of Prince Edward Island
Coastal regions are critical to national, regional and local economies. Canada has the longest coastline in the world, bordering three major oceans — Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic — with more than $160 billion in trade occurring through Canadian ports.
Coastal infrastructure, communities and ecosystems are all highly sensitive to the impacts of climate change, including increasing flooding, storm surges, rates of erosion and salinization of groundwater. These impacts are primarily related to changes in sea level, sea-ice cover and storminess, which will vary by region.
Opportunities arising from climate change for coastal areas focus largely on the North, where the decreasing extent of sea-ice cover may enhance marine navigation, both for shipping routes and access to mineral, oil and gas potential.
Although adaptation actions are occurring, there remain gaps in knowledge. Emerging issues include the need to strengthen the business case and innovative financing for adaptation actions as well as to measure the effectiveness of adaptation investments.
The current priorities for work identified by the Coastal Management Working Group are to:
- Advance the understanding of climate change impacts on coastal ecosystems (and ecosystem services) and the role that these ecosystems can play in long-term coastal resilience
- Understand the impacts of climate change on economic, human and cultural assets on our coasts
- Identify, evaluate and provide guidance on how to implement adaptation options
- Mobilize knowledge, raise awareness and engage with stakeholders about coastal climate change impacts and adaptation
Creates economic knowledge and tools that help decision makers in both the private and public sectors make better adaptation investment choices and policy decisions
Chaired by the NRCan Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Division
In order to adapt to a changing climate, Canadian businesses, communities and all levels of government (federal, provincial/territorial and municipal) require better information on the economic impacts of climate change, and the costs and benefits of alternative adaptation options. To date, economic analysis of climate change in Canada has focussed on national-level impacts and has not generated adequate knowledge of impacts and adaptation options at local and regional levels, where specific information to inform decisions is most needed.
To address this need, the Economics Working Group is pursuing a program of work focussed on creating economic knowledge and tools that help decision makers in both the private and public sectors make better adaptation investment choices and policy decisions.
Priority areas currently being pursued by the Economics Working Group are to:
- Enhance understanding of the regional- and sector-specific economic impacts that a changing climate is likely to create, and generate knowledge of the relative costs and benefits of potential adaptation measures
- Demonstrate that investment in adaptation is beneficial to increase the economic resilience of regions, sectors or organizations, and help to identify specific adaptation opportunities
- Understand where and how economic and other instruments, in the public and private domains, can effect change in order to make sectors more resilient
- Work with the financial sector and targeted decision makers to build capacity and incorporate climate impacts and adaptation options into decision-making by transferring economic and financial knowledge and techniques with respect to adaptation
Provides a forum to help address common issues related to adaptation in the energy sector
Chaired by the NRCan Energy and Environment Policy Division
Canada has a sizeable and diverse portfolio of energy resources that makes it one of the major energy producers in the world. Within the energy sector, the topic of climate change mitigation (reducing greenhouse gases) receives significant attention; however, assessing the impacts of a changing climate on the sector’s resilience and developing approaches for adaptation are an emerging focus.
A changing climate could affect every mode of energy and every link in the value chain. Many of the challenges already faced by Canada’s energy sector could be exacerbated by climate change extremes, such as heat waves, floods, droughts, wildfire and storms. These extremes can disrupt the production of energy, affect transmission and distribution, alter the reliability of transportation networks, jeopardize the integrity of energy assets and infrastructure, and influence demand for energy from all end-users. In some cases, climate change may present opportunities, such as expanded markets for electricity resulting from increases in energy demand for air conditioning in response to warmer temperatures and more intense heat waves. Climate change presents both risks and opportunities for the energy sector and this will vary across the country based on the regional energy profile and climate change impacts.
The Energy Working Group has identified the following as priority work areas:
- Increasing the sector’s understanding of future climate and hydrology scenarios information
- Understanding the impacts of a changing climate on the energy sector
- Providing resources, tools and information to assess and plan for risks and opportunities resulting from a changing climate and integrate adaptation into planning, management, operations, infrastructure, etc.
- Establishing the business case for investing in adaptation
- Identifying barriers, enablers as well as drivers that influence adaptation policies and actions
- Identifying interrelationships between mitigation and adaptation in the energy sector
- Mobilizing knowledge, raising awareness and engaging stakeholders to increase understanding of risks and opportunities, and implement adaptive measures
Addresses the adaptation of sustainable forest management to changing climatic conditions
Chaired by the NRCan Canadian Forest Service
Climate change impacts are already evident in Canada’s forests, and forest industries and communities. These impacts include change in growing conditions, increases in disturbances and operational impacts. Adaptation comprising foresight, and long-term investment and commitment are essential to address these impacts. Not adapting increases the risk of ecological degradation, industry failure and community decline.
- Continue to raise awareness about the importance and benefits of adaptation with members of Canada’s forest sector
- Network, share information and develop relationships to enhance cooperation and collaboration on existing and potential forestry adaptation initiatives
- Identify common issues and knowledge gaps pertaining to forestry adaptation in Canada
- Document and disseminate adaptation best practices and lessons learned in order to mainstream adaptation into sustainable forest management activities
Infrastructure and buildings
Builds capacity, generates evidence and provides outreach to increase the capability of infrastructure managers, municipalities, builders, insurers, engineers and other relevant stakeholders to adapt and facilitate adaptation to climate change
Co-chaired by Infrastructure Canada and the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction
Canada’s infrastructure and buildings experience billions of dollars of damage each year from severe weather and slow onset climate events.
Change in the climate threatens to increase the risk of damage to infrastructure and buildings that have not been designed for our emerging climate. Such damage, in turn, can result in loss of life, injuries and significant disruption in economic activity. Much of the expected loss and damage to infrastructure and buildings is preventable through appropriate design, construction and maintenance.
- Build capacity for public and municipal infrastructure, and building professionals to address disaster risk and implement climate change adaptation options in buildings and infrastructure
- Provide an outreach function for professionals, the public, and relevant infrastructure and building stakeholders to increase knowledge and engage in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation
- Build evidence to support adaptation of public infrastructure and buildings to climate change
Shares lessons learned, best practices, tools and methodologies for measuring progress on adaptation to climate change
Chaired by Environment and Climate Change Canada
Effective measurement helps to both assess whether resources have been effectively allocated and design better programs, policies and measures that deliver adaptation benefits to end-users.
As investments in adaptation to climate change increase, many organizations and governments are becoming increasingly interested in the best tools, processes and techniques for measuring progress in and the effectiveness of adaptation.
The Measuring Progress Working Group identified the following strategic objectives:
- To build the capacity to measure progress in addressing adaptation and adaptation outcomes
- To determine the availability and suitability of existing tools, techniques and data that could be applied in adaptation measurement in Canada
Helps facilitate a more resilient and sustainable mining sector in a changing climate
Chaired by the NRCan Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Division
A changing climate may pose significant physical risks for mining operations; it may also create indirect impacts for social, economic and environmental systems.
There is regional variability in the type and level of exposure to climate risks. Canada’s North is projected to experience particularly acute changes: while rapid warming and degradation of permafrost may pose challenges for asset design and access to resources, a shorter sea-ice season may offer greater opportunities for shipping materials year-round. Rainfall is more important as a hazard to mine operations in British Columbia, where mountainous topography can make mining operations vulnerable to mud and debris flows triggered by intense rainfall, and transport routes are at risk of wash out, particularly during the spring melting season. Mining operations in the Prairies are more likely to be affected by flooding and drought, and to experience challenges related to competition for water. There is also variability in vulnerability of communities and ecosystems to climate change and in their capacity to adapt.
The Mining Working Group has identified the following strategic objectives:
- Identify opportunities to build climate change adaptation into existing government policies, management structures and processes, and industry initiatives
- Understand cross-sectoral (e.g., mining and transport, mining and water resources, and mining and energy) impacts of climate change, and identify opportunities for collaborative adaptation
- Better understand the progress of the mining sector (industry and governments) in adapting to a changing climate
Northern Canada (on hiatus)
Provides a forum where adaptation priorities are identified and a program of work is established to address common issues and needs related to adaptation in northern Canada
Northern organizations, public as well as private, are increasingly focused on better understanding and addressing the current and projected effects of climate change on their plans, operations and assets. Today, each territory has its own adaptation plan or strategy. The federal government’s Northern Strategy reflects the changing climate as a principal driver of broader environmental and therefore, economic and cultural change in the North. In addition, industrial sectors operating in the North are increasingly considering the potential implications of the changing climate.
The Northern Canada Working Group has identified the following strategic and cross-cutting objectives:
- Reduce climate change vulnerability and increase opportunities related to the availability, accessibility, quality and utilization of food in northern communities
- Assess climate change vulnerabilities of cryosphere/landscapes and existing infrastructure (built environment)
- Support sustainable resource development through risk-based assessments
- Develop/identify and transfer the knowledge base on climate change and adaptation to decision makers
- Mainstream adaptation to a changing climate into planning and decision-making
Regional Adaptation Collaboratives and tools synthesis (work completed)
Builds on the Regional Adaptation Collaboratives (RACs) Program’s completed/planned products and activities to further advance adaptation decision-making in Canada
With the launch of the Adaptation Platform in 2012, a window of opportunity existed to build on the results from the 2008–2012 RACs program and the adaptation tools. Under the previous program, approximately 400 products were produced to help integrate adaptation into decision-making for targeted sectors. To maximize the impact and legacy across Canada, this Working Group was established to identify and develop value-added and synthesis products of significance beyond the region of origin, such as compendiums of resources, best practices, guidance documents and case studies.
The work of the RACs Tools Synthesis Working Group was guided by the following principles:
- Synthesize or “add value to”, but not duplicate, the products, results and learning delivered through the RACs program and the adaptation tools
- Be supported by more than one region
- Include a dissemination plan, which clearly identifies targeted decision makers
- Create products that are practical, cost-effective, achievable and completed no later than March 31, 2014
Helps facilitate the development and dissemination of scientifically rigorous syntheses of existing knowledge concerning climate change risks, opportunities and adaptation in Canada. Science assessments include value-added analysis that is policy relevant but not policy prescriptive.
Chaired by the NRCan Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Division
The Science Assessment Working Group provides a collaborative forum to help facilitate the development and dissemination of scientifically rigorous syntheses of existing knowledge concerning climate change risks, opportunities and adaptation in Canada. Science assessments include value-added analysis that is policy relevant but not policy prescriptive.
The aims of the Science Assessment Working Group are to:
- Provide regional and sectoral perspectives on science assessment activities
- Facilitate exchange between policy makers, scientific experts and industry sectors to create strategies to develop and disseminate science assessment products
- Build the capacity for a sustained science assessment process
Water and climate information
Provides improved access to an inventory as well as tools for water and climate information products to support adaptation in Canada
- Identify current and future data needs by drawing upon the recommendations and gaps identified by the other working groups within the Adaptation Platform
- Assess the current provision of water and climate information by mapping climate and water services across the country by various providers (i.e., federal, provincial/territorial, academia, consortia and private sector)
- Investigate and develop a strategy and potential tools to improve access and understanding of existing water and climate information
- Assess the status and needs for documentation (i.e., guidelines, manuals and protocols) and tools for decision makers to utilize water and climate information to support adaptation activities
Enhancing uptake and use of resources
Resources you can use
Want to see the outcomes of our co-funded projects? Access them in GEOSCAN. You can learn more about how to adapt, including using your existing resources to move into action on climate change and kick-starting adaptation in smaller municipalities.
The Adaptation Platform hosts webinars to provide information about new research, products and experiences in adaptation. The video catalogue is hosted externally and all webinars are available for free. Topics include changes in sea-level rise on Canada’s coasts, cost-benefit studies, extreme events, risk assessments, adaptation planning, and more.
Our annual reports
Canada’s Climate Change Adaptation Platform’s annual reports summarize the outcomes from our Plenary’s twice-yearly meetings, the accomplishments of the working groups and what’s happening in other projects and gatherings.
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