Climate Change Products for Atlantic Canada September 2015 Journal

By Robert Capozi, Climate Change Adaptation Specialist

The Atlantic provinces Climate Change Secretariats in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador, along with St. Mary’s University, Dalhousie University, and engineering consultants CBCL Ltd., are in the final stages of creating an Adaptation Options Guidance document and Decision Making Framework for action on adaptation to climate change and sea level rise in rural, coastal Atlantic Canadian communities. This product will guide local decision makers to a selection of land use planning tools and engineering tools that are available to communities in order for them to adapt to coastal flooding and erosion. In order to decrease the risk of coastal hazards, communities must adapt by increasing their resilience through continuing education of coastal management strategies and approaches.

The Adaptation Options Guidance document describes in detail the five main adaptation strategies: procedural, avoid, retreat, accommodate and protect. Local examples are provided for each of the adaptation strategies. At the end of each strategy section is a list of adaptation tools that fall within that strategy type.

The document’s ‘Adaptation Approaches’ section discusses what is needed for a community to begin the adaption planning process and provides a list of principles that are considered necessary to create an informed and effective adaptation plan. This section ends with a step by step framework that discusses key information necessary for decision making.

The ‘Atlantic Canada’ section presents a brief overview of the Atlantic region through its characteristics and physical vulnerabilities related to the risks associated with rising sea levels and climate change.

The section ‘Coastal Settings’ addresses such factors as the scale of the issue to be resolved, the community’s capacity and objectives, as well as the planning horizon, all of which influence what adaptation tools are appropriate to use in addressing the community’s coastal issue(s).

The product has been tested in 8 Atlantic Canada coastal communities, where a full slate of stakeholders that included community leaders, decision-makers, targeted citizens who had been impacted by coastal issues in the past, and members of the general public, were guided through a test run of the product as it provided land use planning and engineering approaches appropriate to the issue and the communities capacity.

The product is expected to be rolled out to Atlantic Canadian communities by early 2016 with facilitation support where required from the provincial Climate Change Secretariats, so that a communities are aware of the product and use it for ensuring their sustainability as a coastal community. Studies are showing that it is more economically sound for communities to prevent rather than respond to the impacts of coastal hazards. Implementing an adaptation strategy requires considerable effort and time from community decision-makers and stakeholders; therefore it is in a community’s best interest to begin the process as soon as possible in order to increase preparatory planning rather than hazard response.

Further information can be obtained by contacting

Robert Capozi, Climate Change Adaptation Specialist
New Brunswick Climate Change Secretariat
New Brunswick Dept. of Environment and Local Government
506 453 8946