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Press release

Kick-Starting Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy: Key takeaways from global peers

WINNIPEG—Compared to many other countries, Canada is lagging on climate adaptation. The impacts of climate change are already being felt from coast to coast, and the situation will only worsen unless greater steps are taken to prepare for what lies ahead.

June 16, 2021

A new report from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), prepared with support from the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), indicates that while Canada has a lot of catching up to do, it won’t be starting from scratch—there's even an opportunity for the nation to be a leader in adaptation.

Launching today at a high-level Public Policy Forum event attended by Canadian government officials, representatives from the private sector, and environmental leaders, Toward a National Adaptation Strategy for Canada: Key Insights From Global Peers provides recommendations for the development of Canada's national adaptation strategy (NAS) based on experiences in other countries, as well as what is currently being accomplished at subnational levels.

It offers 13 recommendations for Canada as it develops its strategy, based on an analysis of a dozen policy instruments from 11 different countries, each of which plays a critical role in creating more resilient economies, ecosystems, and communities. This provides a starting point and clear direction that can help the federal government kick-start its NAS.

Among the key recommendations:

  • Develop a unified approach to climate risk assessment at the national level
  • Put gender equality and social inclusion at the heart of Canada’s approach to adaptation
  • Leverage the NAS process to advance reconciliation with the Indigenous Peoples of Canada
  • Specify clear institutional arrangements for the NAS
  • Design a clear framework and system for tracking progress in adaptation

"Though Canada has some catching up to do on national adaptation planning," says the report’s lead author, Anne Hammill, "the federal government can draw on what has worked internationally to develop an ambitious and inclusive adaptation strategy. Canada has all the pieces we need to become a global leader on building the climate resilience of our communities and ecosystems."

Says Craig Stewart, Vice-President Federal Affairs, IBC: "Canada currently has a national strategy with ambitious, measurable targets for emissions reduction and biodiversity protection. It's time we had a national strategy and targets for protecting Canadians from floods, fires and storms."

Key facts:

All EU Member States now have a national adaptation strategy or plan; adaptation has been mainstreamed into the EU's policies and long-term budget. Canada is still talking about its strategy.

Severe weather events in 2020—one of the warmest years on record—caused CAD 2.4 billion in insured damage in Canada, the fourth highest annual damage on record (IBC, 2021).

As the second biggest country in the world, with 15 eco-zones and 38 million inhabitants distributed very unevenly in urban and rural settings, climate change impacts Canadians in a wide range of ways.

Media contacts:

Vanessa Farquharson
Director, Communications
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

Vanessa Barrasa
Manager Media Relations
Insurance Bureau of Canada

About IISD

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an award-winning independent think tank working to accelerate solutions for a stable climate, sustainable resource management, and fair economies. Our work inspires better decisions and sparks meaningful action to help people and the planet thrive. We shine a light on what can be achieved when governments, businesses, non-profits, and communities come together. IISD’s staff of more than 250 experts come from across the globe and from many disciplines. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa, and Toronto, our work affects lives in nearly 100 countries.

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