Engaging Canadians on a National Adaptation Strategy to build a climate ready economy and communities
May 16, 2022 – Montréal, Quebec
Building a strong and healthy future for Canadians means building homes, infrastructure, and an economy that are ready for the realities of climate change. To do that, Canada needs a coordinated national response.
Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, launched a public consultation to develop Canada’s first National Adaptation Strategy, a whole-of-society blueprint for coordinated action across the country, ensuring communities and Canadians are prepared for the impacts of climate change. The Minister launched the consultations at a virtual adaptation conference attended by over a thousand participants, including provinces, territories, leaders of National Indigenous Organizations, as well as climate adaptation experts, industry representatives, and members of the public.
To kick off the public consultations, the Government published a discussion paper that sets out guiding principles as well as goals and objectives for five key areas of focus: Health and Well-being, Natural and Built Infrastructure, Environment, Economy, and Disaster Resilience and Security.
Climate-readiness includes measures such as preventing the construction of homes on floodplains, increasing tree coverage in urban forests to reduce the effects of heatwaves, and using data to map and manage the risks of wildfires.
The Strategy will build on a strong foundation of action being taken across the country, such as the federal Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF), which has received a significant increase in investment, now $3.4 billion, for infrastructure projects to help communities better prepare for climate-related disasters.
Canadians, community organizations, and interested stakeholders are all invited to share their opinions by participating on the dynamic online consultation portal at https://letstalkadaptation.ca until July 15, 2022. The Government of Canada has committed to finalizing the National Adaptation Strategy by fall 2022.
To further demonstrate leadership on climate change adaptation, Canada will be hosting the seventh edition of the global biennial Adaptation Futures conference, the largest dedicated adaptation event in the world, in October 2023 in Montréal. The Government of Canada will contribute $650,000 to support the conference that is being organized by Ouranos in partnership with the World Adaptation Science Programme. It will attract leading decision‑makers, policy‑makers, scientists, and practitioners across the globe to share knowledge on adaptation challenges and opportunities.
“For someone like me, who has spent decades fighting to raise awareness and stop the pollution that causes climate change, adapting to the many impacts of our changing climate feels like fighting a two-front war. We can and we must do both mitigation and adaptation—play both offence and defence—for a complete effort. It takes a National Adaptation Strategy that brings everyone in Canada into the conversation, especially vulnerable populations. Once finalized, the new National Adaptation Strategy will ensure we are preparing for both today’s climate and the climate of the future, and that we are taking action to protect the safety and well-being of our families, communities, and the environment.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“The evidence is clear: we need to do more to help Canadians adapt to the effects of climate change. These effects—on our safety, our society, and our economy—are undeniable and wide-ranging, from increasingly frequent and severe disaster events such as floods and wildfires, to slower onset impacts such as sea-level rise, thawing permafrost, and changing ecosystems. The National Adaptation Strategy will provide essential tools and knowledge that support a collaborative approach and will establish a shared vision and a framework for action to reduce the impacts of future climate-related disasters, helping Canadians thrive in a changing climate.”
– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources
“Floods, fires, and other natural disasters have had devastating impacts on our communities, and the reality of climate change means events like these will continue to increase in scale and frequency. The National Adaptation Strategy is central to our work in preparing for climate emergencies. Building on our Emergency Management Strategy, it will allow us to better assess the risks as we monitor, respond to, and recover from extreme weather events while building resiliency in communities right across the country.”
– The Honourable Bill Blair, President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness
According to the Canadian Climate Institute, the number and cost of catastrophic weather events in the past decade alone were twice as high as those recorded in the previous decades combined (i.e., 1983 to 2009). The Insurance Bureau of Canada found that severe weather caused $2.1 billion in insured damage in 2021 and said that the “new normal” for insured losses from severe weather events across Canada is $2 billion per year. Uninsured losses are estimated to be double that amount.
To inform the development of the National Adaptation Strategy, the Government of Canada has been engaging and consulting with provinces and territories, municipal governments, and Indigenous Peoples and organizations.
The Government of Canada launched five Expert Advisory Tables in fall 2021 to provide advice on transformational goals and objectives of the National Adaptation Strategy within five key systems: Health and Well-being, Natural and Built Infrastructure, Environment, Economy, and Disaster Resilience and Security.
Planning for the future means planning for ongoing climate change. As the climate continues to change, our actions to prepare and respond to the impacts of these changes must also grow and evolve. The National Adaptation Strategy is being designed for ongoing evaluation as we make progress and take action.
Building on significant investments to date, Budget 2022 announced key items to advance federal adaptation efforts, including funding to support Indigenous Climate Leadership and the development of a Canada Green Homes Strategy, which will help to increase the climate resilience of existing buildings. Budget 2022 also announced other investments related to adaptation, such as funding for freshwater and agriculture initiatives, wildfire response, and to enhance federal coordination of emergency responses.
The Government of Canada is also seeking stories, photos, and videos from Canadians to showcase how individuals and communities are adapting to and preparing for climate change impacts (e.g., installing community gardens, protecting or restoring a wetland, planting trees to prevent erosion, creating gathering areas for emergencies). Submissions will be accepted until July 15, 2022 on the letstalkadaptation.ca website.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
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