Advances in adaptation a national perspective
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Advances in Adaptation – A National Perspective. Prairies Regional Adaptation Collaborative Forum Regina, Saskatchewan February, 2012 Dr. Niall O’Dea Director, Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Division. Purpose. To provide… … an NRCan perspective on adaptation in Canada…

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Advances in Adaptation – A National Perspective

Prairies Regional Adaptation Collaborative ForumRegina, SaskatchewanFebruary, 2012Dr. Niall O’DeaDirector, Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Division


To provide…

… an NRCan perspective on adaptation in Canada…

… how that perspective has informed our approach to adaptation programming under the RAC program…

… and how it will guide where we are headed now.

The context: Climate change adaptation has become an increasingly active area of work in Canada

  • Science

    • University research institutes and initiatives

    • New federal science programs

  • Economics

    • National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

    • Private sector engagement (including insurance and financial sectors)

  • Policy

    • Federal Adaptation Framework

    • Provincial and territorial adaptation plans / strategies

  • Institutional Capacity

    • Regionally-based and funded Centres of Expertise

More players, more focused / sophisticated discussion, enhanced ownership of the issues

Our role: Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has played a significant role since 1998

  • Science

    • Research Program (1998-2007)

    • National Assessment (2008, 2013 update)

  • Policy

    • Intergovernmental Climate Change Adaptation Framework (2005)

    • Departmental Risk Analysis (2010)

    • Federal Adaptation Policy Framework (2011)

  • Institutional Capacity

    • Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Research Network (2001 - 2006)

    • Engineers Canada, Canadian Institute of Planners (2005-2012)

    • Regional Adaptation Collaborative Program (2007-2012)

  • Decision-support

    • Risk management tools

    • Case studies

Objective – more climate-resilient communities and regions, and enhanced competitiveness of Canadian industry.

Our thinking: A number of principles / assumptions inform our work

  • Changing climate:

    • is a magnifier of existing climate risk, sometimes adding new dimensions

  • Adaptation:

    • is about managing risk and opportunity, uncertainties are unavoidable

    • is an iterative process involving a wide range of players across multiple levels of government, the private sector and civil society

    • should be mainstreamed as an element of decision-making, rather than being dealt with separately

  • Existing institutions, governance, management mechanisms:

    • are best positioned to address adaptation issues

    • bring networks of professionals that are critical for information dissemination

NRCan works in practical ways

to advance the leading edge of adaptation

Our approach: Collaboration is NRCan’s primary mechanism to advance adaptation

  • Collaboration takes time and presents challenges, however, is often necessary in order to:

    • avoid unintended negative consequences of adaptation actions (maladaptation)

    • create an enabling environment for local adaptation action (address barriers)

  • Benefits of collaboration include:

    • efficient use of resources

    • sharing of data, expertise and experience

    • building new understanding and synergies

    • “spin offs”

  • Collaboration is essential to fulfill the role of the federal government to facilitate adaptation action by others

    • (Federal Adaptation Policy Framework)

An illustration: Competing interests often make collaboration essential

Decision-making Continuum


General awareness

Active engagement

Focussed awareness


Decision point

Our evolution: Our emphasis has shifted along the decision-making continuum over time

Knowledge transfer

What am I adapting to?

What are my risks?

What are possible solutions?

Which action to take?


Information & knowledge producers



Decision makers








Evolving collaboration: The RAC program was designed to help translate adaptation knowledge into practical action

  • The RACs:

    • address regionally-identified priorities

    • linked to policy drivers rather than science questions

    • engaged ~150 local, regional and national organizations

    • together form a national network for sharing information and experience

Catalyzing coordinated and sustained

adaptation decision-making and action


Coastal Zones

(19) 4%

(26) 6%

Water Resources


(153) 34%

(126) 29%



(Forestry, Agriculture, Mining,

(60) 14%

Health, Tourism, Multi-sectoral)

(55) 13%

Collaborative diversity: Each RAC is generating results across diverse themes

Transferable knowledge: RAC thematic results offer opportunities for knowledge exchange

* Cross cutting products are counted in multiple categories

An illustration: Sea level rise in southern BC — collaboration leading to policy change

Engagement - federal, regional and local governments, Canadian Institute of Planners

Issues addressed:

  • Engineering - Infrastructure

  • Planning - Land use planning, flooding, agriculture

  • Parks and Culture - Urban forests, cultural resources

  • Police and Fire – Emergency preparedness and response

  • Legal Services - Liability assessments and law suit response

The next step: NRCan’s new program reflects the changing landscape of adaptation in Canada

The Adaptation Platform



NRCan, AAND, TC, EC, others



Regulatory bodies, Financial services,

Engineers, Planners

  • Expanding the tent – industry and financial sector key participants

  • Engaging federal partners

  • Mechanism for information sharing and product development

  • Each participating organization brings its own resources and priorities


P/T Governments,

Regional Adaptation Collaboratives

National Industry Associations

Energy, Mining, Forestry, Transport



Platform Plenary


Contributes to Platform priorities, activities, product development and dissemination

Core federal departments, national industry associations, professional organizations and institutions, provincial and territorial governments, and RAC representatives

May also participate as

Working Groups

Create targeted products, such as


RAC synthesis/legacy

Economic risk analysis

Coastal zone assessment

Impacts and adaptation experts, regional and sector-specific experts, professionals and end users

Update of National Assessment

Measuring progress on adaptation

… and other collaborative initiatives

Structure for collaboration: Channelling diverse sources of knowledge into focused action

The Adaptation Platform

The path ahead

  • Discuss and agree on shared priorities with provincial and territorial counterparts

  • Establish partnership with targeted industry associations

  • Launch Adaptation Platform in March 2012

Your feedback and suggestions are important


Niall O’Dea

Director, Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Division (CCIAD),

Natural Resources Canada

E-mail: [email protected]

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