Ottawa with the Canadian flag

Canada’s First National Adaptation Strategy Is a Milestone Toward Achieving Climate Resilience

November 24, 2022

Canada reached a major milestone on its path to a climate-resilient future with the release of its first National Adaptation Strategy (NAS) for final consultations and an accompanying federal Adaptation Action Plan. With these plans, Canada has committed to a whole-of-society approach to its adaptation planning that aims to build resilient communities and strong economies. The loss of lives and damage to communities and infrastructure from recent hurricanes, wildfires, heatwaves, and flood events point to the timely need for this commitment.  

“Developing a National Adaptation Strategy for a country as big and complex as Canada is a huge accomplishment,” says Anne Hammill, Senior Director, Resilience, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). “But on top of this, having one that places equity, inclusion, and environmental justice at its heart positions Canada as a leader in addressing the urgent needs of vulnerable people and communities.” 

Among the key commitments in Canada’s NAS, IISD particularly welcomes its commitment to putting in place the core structures needed to facilitate a coordinated national approach to climate adaptation, namely: 

  • A commitment to 5-year cycles to review progress, update risk assessments, and develop a new adaptation strategy, reflecting the need for iterative adaptation planning and action that progressively incorporates new knowledge and lessons learned. 
  • Establishment of targets and indicators against which to measure our progress in a transparent manner.  
  • Ensuring that “sustained, sufficient, and equitable” funding is in place to support climate adaptation, moving away from the current focus on short-term, project-by-project funding, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has cited as leading to critical gaps between current and needed levels of adaptation action.

The accompanying Government of Canada Adaptation Action Plan provides clear guidance regarding how the federal government will contribute to implementing the NAS by making strategic choices aligned with the strategy’s goals and targets. Today’s announcement of CAD 1.6 billion over 5 years for climate change adaptation includes notable commitments to the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund to build more natural infrastructure and to the Green Municipal Fund to support communities with adaptation projects. We look forward to gaining a greater understanding of how these commitments will address the urgent need to strengthen adaptation action and capacities at the local level in Canada, particularly in rural and remote communities. 

“The launch of Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy is a significant step forward,” says Jo-Ellen Parry, Director, Adaptation (Canada), IISD. “Now the real work begins: implementing adaptation actions in an inclusive manner to achieve real change and greater resilience.” 

While today’s release of the NAS and federal action plan is a significant milestone, further work will be needed to put in place the robust structures required to enable their implementation. In particular, we look forward to additional clarification on the governance framework to facilitate coordinated implementation of the NAS, the comprehensive framework for monitoring and evaluation of progress, and the strengthening of national assessments of our climate risks and adaptation progress. 

Statement details