Climate Change

Planning for adaptation and resiliency: Canadian local government experiences and needs

There can be little doubt that climate change has become the paramount global environmental issue. In recent years the climate change discussion has moved from acceptance and attenuation to seeking an understanding of the implications of change and potential adaptation and resiliency strategies.

This all poses a significant challenge for local governments in Canada. Indeed, there is a growing acknowledgment that it is now adaptation and resiliency strategies at the local level that are essential to supporting infrastructure, land use planning, and the broad range of services provided by municipal governments.

In Canada, local governments may be on frontline of the adaptation and resiliency imperative, but are they planning accordingly? There is no comprehensive national portrait. The need is for research that not only provides an image of the present situation, but also identifies requirements, options and strategies. Our research aims to help address these gaps.

Our Project

Led by Dr. Kevin Hanna Wilfrid Laurier University and a research team, this interdisciplinary project, entitled the National Municipal Adaptation Project (NMAP), supports comparative Canadian research on local government planning for adaptation and resiliency. The view of planning is comprehensive - it is seen it as the core activity in local decision-making about how to best provide and support the physical systems that support community economic, social and environmental public services. Funding for this project is provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and agency of the Government of Canada.

The project assesses the state of planning for adaptation and resiliency in Canadian local governments, develop case studies, and generate applied knowledge for advancing community adaptation planning. The work is experience-based, and works to develop examples and knowledge directly relevant to Canadian communities.

Core objectives

  1. Assess the extent to which Canada's local governments are integrating adaptation and resiliency themes into their planning policies and actions.
  2. Understand the challenges that planning for climate change pose for local governments.
  3. Understand why some local governments are planning for adaptation and resiliency and others are not.
  4. Understand how adaptation and resiliency planning at the local level can best be supported by existing (or absent) provincial and national policies.
  5. Determine knowledge and capacity needs for local planning.
  6. Identify best practices and planning innovation based on experience in Canada and other analogous countries.
  7. Communicate the results to broad policy audiences.


Visit the site of the National Municipal Adaptation Project (NMAP) to view this research project on climate change adaptation.