Adaptive Policy Analysis of Saskatchewan's 25-Year Water Security Plan

By Dimple Roy on July 21, 2014

The Adaptive Design and Policy Assessment Tool (ADAPTool) is an Excel-based online tool developed by the International Institute for Sustainable Development and partners as a structured guide through an assessment process that compares existing policies and programs to the characteristics of adaptive policies.

ADAPTool assesses policies or programs in relation to a defined stressor or external change. It produces two kinds of assessments: 1) it gauges the ability of existing policies or programs to support adaptation measures undertaken in response to the specified stressor by the policy target groups; 2) it assesses the general adaptability of the policies or programs themselves, which is to say, whether they are likely to respond well under the influence of the defined changes as well as under unforeseeable changes in the future. ADAPtool builds on IISD-led research on Creating Adaptive Policies.

In this pilot application, ADAPtool for existing policies was applied to the seven goals of Saskachewan’s 25-year Water Security Plan (WSP). IISD worked with analysts from the WSP of the Province of Saskatchewan to conduct the ADAPtool analyses, including: initial project scoping (including choice of policies to be analyzed); training on use of ADAPtool; literature review and vulnerability assessments for the forestry-relevant sectors; adaptation analysis, adaptive policy analysis and final reporting on results.

A key finding through this pilot application of the ADAPtool for existing policies was that this tool is not well suited to a plan that has not yet been implemented. This application provided lessons about the limitations of the tool in this context.

Based on our analysis, all goals or policies within the scope of the analysis (and comprising the 25-year plan) provided indirect support to various sectors in Saskatchewan facing increasing climate change impacts requiring adaptation actions: 133 out of the total 198 adaptation actions have no direct program support. Of the 198 total adaptation actions, 65 are supported (directly or indirectly) by one of more of the policies. The adaptation needs that were not supported by the policies assessed should be scrutinized for their implications and responses developed accordingly. Five of the seven policies reviewed were vulnerable to climate change impacts, and it was recommended that more effort be devoted to explore feasible levels of water withdrawals under diverse climate change scenarios to reduce the vulnerability of the policies and managed water resources. The policies fall short in supporting other capacities, but all performed relatively well in foresight methods and multistakeholder involvement. The four policies that had explicit instruments for enabling self-organization and networking performed moderately well in this capacity. A plan is in place to review the overall 25-year plan every 5 years, and five of the seven policies explicitly mention review mechanisms. Based on the wording of the plan, the policies seem moderately decentralized and the instruments suggested include a range of different kinds of policies.

Report details

Climate Change Adaptation
ADAPTool Adaptive Policy
Focus area
Act Together
IISD, 2014