Flags in front of the Canadian parliament building

A Climate-Resilient Future for All Canadians

The finalized National Adaptation Strategy presents a clear way forward

June 27, 2023

The final version of Canada’s first-ever National Adaptation Strategy (NAS) was released today after undergoing a consultation process. The NAS presents a whole-of-society approach to climate change adaptation that aims to safeguard Canadian communities and strengthen our economies in the face of the increasing risks of climate-related disasters. 

“We are thrilled to see Canada’s first National Adaptation Strategy cross the finish line,” said Jo-Ellen Parry, Director, Adaptation (Canada), International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). “This marks a significant step forward for Canada, one with the potential for global leadership by having equity and environmental justice as core principles of the adaptation strategy.” 

The announcement took place in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was attended by the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change; the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources; and the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Emergency Preparedness. 

“The feedback we received from provinces, territories, and national Indigenous organizations since its initial release in fall 2022 has made it truly reflective of the experience of people living in all parts of the country,” said the Honourable Steven Guilbeault. 

Among its key components, IISD welcomes the strategy’s commitment to a 5-year review cycle; the establishment of concrete targets and progress indicators; and the objective of having sustained, sufficient, and equitable public and private funding to support adaptation action. The updated NAS also recognizes the potential for climate change impacts to amplify existing vulnerabilities and socio-economic inequalities and the role of Indigenous Knowledge Systems in informing adaptation planning. 

“We are now looking for more details on the governance, implementation, and monitoring of this adaptation strategy,” stated Jo-Ellen Parry. “A significant amount of funding and collaboration will be required to not only implement the country’s adaptation priorities but to track its progress and adjust the strategy over time.” 

The day before the announcement, Canada’s federal parliament building sat in a haze of wildfire smoke—a fitting representation of the urgency facing all levels of the Canadian government to address and prepare for climate-related disasters. The impacts of Quebec’s wildfires across Canadian provinces also illustrate the clear need for collaborative efforts to address the collective problem of climate change, incorporating both short-term and long-term objectives. 

Additionally, Canadians need to be prepared for the slow onset impacts of climate change—such as warming winters and the decreasing predictability of weather conditions—as much as the immediately apparent climate-related disasters like the recent forest fires. As mentioned in today’s announcement, building climate resiliency will require greater coordination across and between levels of government and local communities. The NAS will support the guidance of these adaptation governance processes. 

“IISD will continue to be Canada’s ally through the ever-evolving adaptation process,” said Jo-Ellen Parry. 

In addition to the final NAS's release, the Government of Canada Adaptation Action Plan was announced, with updates on adaptation investments since November 2022. 

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