Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Results

Advice to the federal government on how to measure Canada’s progress on adapting to the impacts of climate change.

About the panel

The Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Results (the Expert Panel) was launched in August 2017 to help define how to measure progress in building Canada’s resilience to climate change.

Having a better understanding of progress in this area will enable us to continuously evaluate and improve our adaptation actions to provide better results for Canadians.

Objectives and key outcomes of the Expert Panel

The Expert Panel was asked to propose a suite of indicators to measure progress on adaptation and climate resilience, which can be used to:

  • assess change in Canada’s resilience to climate change impacts, including as a result of provincial, territorial and federal adaptation actions
  • communicate national progress and results on adaptation to Canadians

Expert Panel members

The Expert Panel was chaired by Dr. Blair Feltmate, Head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, at the University of Waterloo. The Panel included members from academia, Indigenous organizations and governments, the private sector, municipal organizations and government, and non-governmental and youth organizations.



Blair Feltmate

Ph.D., Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, University of Waterloo

Mr. Feltmate is the Head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo, and has over two decades of experience leading sustainability programs in business and government.

Indigenous organizations and governments

Graeme Reed

Ph.D., Senior Policy Analyst, Assembly of First Nations

Mr. Reed is a Senior Policy Analyst with the Assembly of First Nations, where he advocates for the inclusion of First Nations in the federal, provincial, and territorial climate change and energy policy dialogue.

Jennifer Parrott

Research Manager, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation

Ms. Parrott works with Inuit communities and organizations in the Canadian North, and has coproduced a series of data management systems which promote knowledge exchange between Inuit and academia/government.

Kathy L. Hodgson-Smith

Senior Policy Advisor, Métis National Council

Ms. Hodgson-Smith leads national and international environmental policy initiatives for the Métis National Council, including the Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. She also co-chairs the Métis-Canada Table on Clean Growth and Climate Change, which includes adaptation and mitigation measurement.


Deborah Harford

Executive Director, Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT), School of Public Policy, Simon Fraser University

Ms. Harford co-founded ACT in 2006 to explore policy options for sustainable adaptation in a range of areas at risk from climate change impacts, including water, food, health, biodiversity, energy, infrastructure, and population displacement, and collaborates with a wide variety of organizations and individuals on resource development and outreach.

Louise Comeau

Ph.D., Research Associate and Instructor, Forestry and Environmental Management, University of New Brunswick

Ms. Comeau has a wealth of experience on climate change issues. Her results-oriented approach in her current role is based on the understanding of the need for solid research as well as collaboration with national and international networks.

Cory Searcy

Ph.D., P.Eng., Professor, Industrial Engineering & Environmental Applied Science and Management, Ryerson University

Mr. Searcy’s research focuses on corporate sustainability indicators, sustainability reporting, and sustainable supply chain management. A registered professional engineer in Ontario, he is also an editor for corporate sustainability at the Journal of Business Ethics.

Bronwyn Hancock

Associate Vice President, Research Development, Yukon College

Ms. Hancock is responsible for the planning, development, and implementation of research at Yukon College, and for developing relationships with the research community in support of northern research.

Private sector

Craig Stewart

Vice-President, Federal Affairs, Insurance Bureau of Canada

Mr. Stewart leads national work on disaster resilience and climate change at the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the industry association representing the property and casualty insurance industry in Canada.

Joanna Kyriazis

Policy Director, Zizzo Strategy

Ms. Kyriazis works with organizations to identify, manage and disclose climate-related risks and opportunities in the context of transitioning to a low carbon, resilient economy. She has also advised clients on emerging legal and policy issues related to climate and energy.

David Lapp

Manager, Globalization and Sustainable Development, Engineers Canada

Mr. Lapp leads a long-term national project to assess the engineering vulnerability of Canadian public infrastructure to the impacts of climate change. This project has led to the development of an infrastructure climate risk assessment tool known as the PIEVC Protocol that has been applied in Canada and internationally.

Al Douglas

Director, Ontario Centre for Climate Impacts and Adaptation Resources

Mr. Douglas has worked on climate change impacts and adaptation for 15 years, and has partnered with organizations across Ontario and Canada to develop tools and resources that support adaptation planning and decision-making.

Capital markets

Karen Lockridge

Principal, Responsible Investment, Mercer

Ms. Lockridge assists investors in integrating climate change into their investment beliefs, policies and portfolios. She was the founding chair of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries’ Climate Change and Sustainability Committee.

Ian McPherson

Chief Executive Officer, Last Spike Capital

Mr. McPherson is a Certified Investment Manager and a pioneer in the world of sustainable investment, having launched Canada’s first Global Clean Energy Fund and first Water Infrastructure Fund in 2007.

Municipal organizations and governments

Twyla Kowalczyk

Water Resources Engineer, City of Calgary

Ms. Kowalczyk has experience in river flood emergency preparedness and response in the City of Calgary, including the 2013 flood event, and is now leading implementation of climate adaptation in Calgary’s Water Utility.

Sophie Pantin

Project Verification Specialist, Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Ms. Pantin led the development of performance indicators for the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program and is responsible for the on-going development, implementation, and revision of the FCM’s project performance measurement and reporting system.

Ewa Jackson

Managing Director, ICLEI—Local Governments for Sustainability

Ms. Jackson has worked with municipal governments for over 14 years in the fields of sustainability, public participation, and climate change, including on numerous adaptation and sustainability monitoring and evaluation projects at the local, national, and international scale.

Non-governmental organizations

Deborah Martin-Downs

Chief Administrative Officer, Credit Valley Conservation Authority/Conservation Ontario

Ms. Martin-Downs has broad organizational, operational, and technical leadership experience based on her career in the environmental industry.  Her organization is responsible for watershed management, natural hazard management and natural system protection in the Credit River Watershed, one of 36 Conservation Authorities in Ontario.

Bob Purdy

Director, External Relations and Corporate Development, Fraser Basin Council

Mr. Purdy is an experienced facilitator of broad-based collaboration on topics such as climate adaptation in Canada’s mining industry, flood mitigation planning, Indigenous/non-Indigenous relationship-building and sustainability indicators development.

Sarah Sargent

Director, Vice-President, Canadian Operations Programs, Canadian Red Cross

Ms. Sargent started her career in international development in 1994 and has worked with the Canadian Red Cross since 2012.  Her work supports programs addressing climate change and extreme weather threats and identifying means to prepare for, mitigate or limit those threats.

Caroline Larrivée

Interim Scientific Program Director, Ouranos

Ms. Larrivée has been with Ouranos, a research consortium on climate change, since 2006 and now acts as the interim Scientific Program Director. She previously worked as a planner in the private sector, for academic institutions and for the Kativik Regional Government where she was involved in projects with northern communities affected by climate change impacts.


Kyle Empringham

Co-Founder, The Starfish Canada

Mr. Empringham is the co-founder of The Starfish Canada, a federally registered non-profit that celebrates and amplifies the great environmental work done by Canada's youth. Mr. Empringham runs their Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 program, which has assembled a network of young change-makers that work to create a greener, cleaner future for Canada's climate.

Executive summary

Measuring progress on adaptation and climate resilience: recommendations to the government of Canada

Climate change impacts are being felt across Canada in significant ways. With observed increases in average temperature and precipitation over the last six decades, including especially rapid rates of warming in the North, climate change is already affecting Canada’s environment and economy, as well as the safety, physical, mental, cultural, and spiritual health and well-being of Canadians. As these impacts are projected to intensify in the coming decades, it is essential that Canadians act now to adapt and build their resilience to climate change.

To help to overcome the challenges associated with climate change in Canada, actions to adapt and build climate resilience are being carried out across the country, by all levels of government, as well as by non-governmental organizations, Indigenous Peoples, the private sector, academia, professional organizations, and individual Canadians. These actions are crucial for building Canada’s capacity to thrive under new climate conditions. However, effectively managing climate risks requires coherence and high levels of coordination between actions that result from an understanding of Canada’s overall progress on adaptation and climate resilience, including to what extent collective action and investments are building adaptive capacity. A robust approach to evaluating progress is needed to increase understanding, support informed decision-making and continuous improvement, and ultimately, enhance climate resilience.

The Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Results was launched by the federal government in August 2017 to advise the Government of Canada on measuring overall progress on adaptation and climate resilience. The Expert Panel was asked to recommend a suite of indicators to measure progress on adaptation and climate resilience in Canada. The recommended indicators were to align with the five key areas of action identified under the adaptation and climate resilience pillar of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, Canada’s national plan to address climate change, build resilience, and grow the economy. It is under this framework that the Expert Panel, following an ambitious, eight-month process of discussion and deliberation, proposes a suite of 54 indicators across the following five chapters:

  • Protecting and improving human health and well-being, focused on the key determinants of health as they relate to climate change impacts, and objectives and indicators that could be used to monitor and evaluate progress toward increasing the resilience of people, communities, and health practitioners to a broad range of health impacts associated with climate change
  • Supporting particularly vulnerable regions, focused on Canada’s northern, coastal, and remote regions and objectives and indicators to measure the resilience of these particularly vulnerable regions to slow-onset climate change impacts (e.g., permafrost thaw, coastal erosion)
  • Reducing climate-related hazards and disaster risks, focused on objectives and indicators related to reducing impacts from rapid-onset climate-related events (e.g. floods, wildfires and other events), aligned with the four components of emergency management: prevention, preparedness, response and recovery
  • Building climate resilience through infrastructure, focused on objectives and indicators to measure the resilience of Canada’s traditional, cultural, and natural infrastructure, new and existing infrastructure, critical and non-critical infrastructure, and the interdependencies of its infrastructure systems
  • Translating scientific information and indigenous knowledge into action, focused on objectives and indicators related to the respectful consideration and use of Indigenous Knowledge Systems and science to co-develop information related to climate change impacts, build the capacity of Canadians to act on this information, and mobilize action on adaptation

The indicators recommended within these chapters are diverse and are intended to identify and measure key elements that would reflect progress on adaptation and climate resilience in Canada. While the full suite is appropriately broad, consistent with the scale, scope, and complexity of the climate change challenge, the Expert Panel has identified a sub-set of 19 indicators from within the larger set that could serve as a starting point for future discussion and work on measuring progress on adaptation and climate resilience, including consideration of a measurement program for adaptation and climate resilience in Canada (see Table 1).

In addition to advising on proposed indicators, the Expert Panel also considered how to implement a sustainable approach to monitoring progress on implementation. Chapter 7 of this report details an approach to mobilizing the Expert Panel’s proposed indicator suite through a sustainable, robust, broadly applicable monitoring and evaluation framework.

In this context, the report highlights several elements essential to implementation of a monitoring and evaluation program for adaptation and climate change resilience in Canada, including:

  • the importance of working with Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous Knowledge Systems to measure progress on adaptation and climate resilience and respond to the results from monitoring and evaluation
  • the need for continuous improvement to both the indicator set and monitoring and evaluation program, necessary to reflect the rapid evolution of climate change science and the information and results of monitoring and evaluation efforts

Building on the abovementioned chapters, the Expert Panel has also included a Call to Action. This highlights the vital importance and urgent need for action to build climate resilience in Canada complementary to and aligned with actions to mitigate climate change and calls on all orders of government to build on the Expert Panel process, working in close collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, the private sector, communities, non-governmental organizations, professional associations, academia and civil society.

Table 1. Expert Panel objectives and sub-set of indicators (for full list of recommended indicators, see chapters 2-6 or appendix II)
Chapter Objectives Indicator sub-set
Protecting and improving human health and well-being

Reduce vulnerability by decreasing sensitivity to climate impacts through alleviating the conditions that make high-risk populations more vulnerable to health-related climate impacts.

Increase at-risk Canadians’ ability to monitor and intervene to reduce their vulnerability to the health impacts of a climate-related hazard.

Ensure adequate responses to health-related climate impacts for those for whom the climate hazard could not be eliminated.

Percentage of Canadians living on low incomes in climate hazard areas (Indicator #2).

Number of culturally appropriate public awareness and education campaigns to promote personal protection from climate change health effects (Indicator #4).

Number of health care practitioners trained to identify and respond to climate-related health effects (including doctors, nurses, social workers, first responders, pharmacists, etc.) (Indicator #8).

Supporting particularly vulnerable regions

Increase northern, remote, and coastal regions’ understanding of slow-onset events.

Reduce the sensitivity of northern, remote, and coastal regions to slow-onset events.

Increase the adaptive capacity of northern, remote, and coastal regions by providing the human, technical and financial resources to self-determine their response to slow-onset events.

Improve regional collaboration between governments, communities, Indigenous Peoples, the private sector, and other relevant stakeholders (including agreements like Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and Data Sharing, which facilitate data access).

Percentage of communities in northern, remote, and coastal areas with community-based, specialized (e.g., coastal erosion, permafrost thaw, etc.) environmental monitoring programs that incorporate climate/weather observations (Indicator #10).

Number of key members of community (e.g., police, firefighters, water technicians, harvesters) with safety training and equipment to adapt to changing conditions (Indicator #13).

Maximum response times in northern, remote, and coastal regions related to search & rescue and emergency response programming (Indicator #14).

Percentage of people in northern, remote, and coastal communities whose access to the land, including country foods and traditional ways of life, is impacted by slow-onset events (Indicator #15).

Reducing climate-related hazards and disaster risks

Prevent and reduce exposure to hazards exacerbated by climate change while recognizing limitations of existing built environment.

Increase preparedness for emergency response to hazards exacerbated by climate change while involving high-risk vulnerable population representatives.

Improve the efficiency and equity of emergency response to future climate-related hazard events.

Improve efficiency and resilience during recovery following climate-related hazard events.

Percentage or number of communities with development and re-development ‘build back better’ control policies, bylaws and regulatory tools for climate-related hazards that are culturally appropriate and include Indigenous Knowledge Systems where appropriate (Indicator #19).

Percentage or number of culturally and locally relevant emergency response warning systems focusing on high-risk vulnerable populations (Indicator #27).

Number of people directly affected by a climate-related disaster (Indicator #29).

Percentage of total financial losses restored, making citizens whole (Indicator #31).

Building climate resilience through infrastructure

Integrate climate resilience into policies, bylaws, plans and other planning mechanisms that direct development, affect safety, determine placement of infrastructure and consider interdependencies.

Integrate climate resilience into infrastructure investments.

Protect and enhance natural and cultural assets and better integrate them into design, planning and investment decisions to enhance community and ecosystem resilience.

Maintain or improve levels of infrastructure services considering a changing climate.

Number of codes and standards reviewed, updated and developed across the full breadth of climate hazard types and asset types at risk, including Indigenous-specific building programs (Indicator #33).

Percentage of total government infrastructure spending directed to building resilience towards locally-identified high priority climate risks (as identified by community climate vulnerability assessments) (Indicator #37).

Percentage of communities (regional, municipal, Indigenous Peoples) that have natural and cultural asset management plans (Indicator #40).

Number of infrastructure owners and operators that have integrated climate resilience into their planning, infrastructure investments, operations and strategy (Indicator #43).

Translating scientific information and indigenous knowledge into action

Indigenous Knowledge and science systems are invested in and respectfully utilized equally and/or together for adaptation knowledge production.

Canadian individuals and organizations have increased capacity for participation in adaptation.

Climate change adaptation knowledge is being translated into action and implemented in plans and practices at multiple levels and scales.

Number of community-based climate-related monitoring and adaptation programs that include Indigenous, local and scientific knowledge (Indicator #44).

Amount of federal, territorial/provincial or municipal funds invested in development of up to date, accessible, relevant, co-produced, localized, equitably distributed information on climate and environmental data for both regions and sectors that can be used to support planning and decision making  (Indicator #45).

Number of training or capacity building programs that demonstrate the application of Indigenous Knowledge Systems and/or scientific information in the context of climate change adaptation (Indicator #48).

Extent of each province and territory covered by adaptation plans incorporating climate risk assessments, designed to be updated every 5 years (Indicator #50).

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