Climate change presents both challenges and opportunities for Canada’s regions and resource sectors. To reduce these risks and to take advantage of these opportunities, we must adapt. Natural Resources Canada offers many knowledge products to advance adaptation across the country through its Adaptation Platform.

What is adaptation?

Adaptation to climate change is any activity that reduces the negative impacts of climate change and/or takes advantage of new opportunities that may be presented.

Adaptation includes activities that are taken before impacts are observed (anticipatory) and after impacts have been felt (reactive). Both anticipatory and reactive adaptation can be planned (i.e. the result of deliberate policy decisions), and reactive adaptation can also occur spontaneously. In most circumstances, anticipatory planned adaptations will incur lower long-term costs and be more effective than reactive adaptations.

Adaptation will usually not take place in response to climate change alone, but in consideration of a range of factors with the potential for both synergies and conflicts. Successful adaptation does not mean that negative impacts will not occur, only that they will be less severe than would be experienced had no adaptation occurred.

Want more information on climate change adaptation?  A good starting point is Natural Resources Canada's: Adaptation 101

The Adaptation Process - Stages and Steps

 source: natural resources canada. (2014). canada in a changing climate: Sector perspectives on impacts and adaptation. 

source: natural resources canada. (2014). canada in a changing climate: Sector perspectives on impacts and adaptation. 

Like any process involving changes in thinking and practice, adapting to a changing climate involves deepening levels of engagement (phases) and actions that can be taken in support of decision making (steps). The image summarizes these phases and steps, which integrate observations on how adaptation is occurring in Canada with common elements of several adaptation planning frameworks. Although presented as a linear process, organizations may take different pathways as they transition and iterate through these phases and steps.

Phases in the adaptation process include awareness, preparation, implementation and iterative learning. The seven steps are:

1. Awareness of climate change: the adaptation process begins once an individual or organization becomes aware of a changing climate as a threat or opportunity.

2. Awareness of the need to adapt: an awareness of the magnitude of the problem helps to identify adaptation as a solution.

3. Mobilizing resources: awareness can lead individuals and organizations to dedicate human and/or financial resources to help clarify the nature of threats or opportunities.

4. Building capacity to adapt: involves applying scientific information, financial resources, and skills to focused activities such as issue screening, risk assessment and in-depth analysis to generate the understanding needed for informed decision making.

5. Implementing targeted adaptation actions: concrete actions are put in place to reduce vulnerability (risk or exposure) to climate change and/or to take advantage of opportunities.

6. Measuring and evaluating progress: measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of adaptation actions and related assumptions and uncertainties provides the feedback necessary for improved management.

7. Learning, sharing knowledge with others and adjusting: the last step leads to refinements in the adaptation actions implemented and transfer of lessons to future adaptation.