Tools and Guidance - Adaptation Planning


Making Strides on Community Adaptation in Canada (2016). The purpose of the Making Strides on Community Adaptation Project was to bridge the gap between planning and implementation by increasing the uptake of existing implementation-related resources such as decision-making tools or geographically specific guidance. This report shares recommendations on how to better leverage implementation, exposes readers to targeted resources and tools that can be used to help support the implementation of adaptation actions, and presents the broad findings from the Project. 

City Resilience Index: With the support of The Rockefeller Foundation, Arup has developed the City Resilience Index – a new way to understand and champion resilience in cities. The City Resilience Index is a tool that highlights areas of improvement, identifies weaknesses and concentrates minds towards finding innovative ways to mitigate against risk.

Municipal Climate Change Action Plan Guidebook (2012): This guide is part of a project by the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Secretariat to assist municipalities in the preparation of Municipal Climate Change Action Plans (MCCAP) as required under the Canada-Nova Scotia Agreement on the Transfer of Federal Gas Tax Revenues. It provides a six-step planning framework for climate change adaptation priorities and three steps to creating a corporate mitigation plan for greenhouse gas emissions.

Land use planning tools for local adaptation to climate change (2012): This document, created by Natural Resources Canada, describes planning tools that are being used by communities to adapt to climate change. The tool provides information on decision-support tools and resources to help planners and local decision makers take effective adaptation action. Examples from Canadian communities are included.

Climate Change Planning and Visioning Training Modules (2012): Developed by the University of British Columbia’s Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP), these three training modules provide guidance for users across Canada to: develop their own local, future climate change scenarios; identify relevant spatial data; assess visualization needs; and, determine visualization media and production methods for local implementation.

Changing Climate, Changing Communities: Guide for Municipal Climate Adaptation (2012): This guide is intended to assist local governments in creating an adaptation plan to address climate change impacts. Created by ICLEI-Canada, it guides users through five milestones and provides examples from various municipalities. It contains a main guide, a workbook for practitioners and information annexes.

Accelerating Adaptation in Canadian Communities (2012): Funded by Natural Resources Canada, Accelerating Adaptation in Canadian Communities is a series of nine case studies. The report provides a review to update understanding of the current state of climate change adaptation in Ontario municipalities. It describes the experiences of municipalities that have begun adaptation actions;
and aims to motivate more municipalities to undertake actions through informative case studies.

Climate Change Adaptation Planning: A Handbook for Small Canadian Communities (2011): This handbook, prepared for the Canadian Institute of Planners, guides the preparation and implementation of a climate change adaptation plan to enable communities to deal with the impacts, risks and opportunities posed by a changing climate. The 6-step process includes public engagement, risk assessment, policy-making, and monitoring.

Adapting to Climate Change: An Introduction for Canadian Municipalities (2010): CCIAD primer to inform municipal decision-makers of approaches that Canadian communities of all sizes are taking to advance adaptation.

Canadian Communities’ Guidebook for Adaptation to Climate Change (2008): The tool, created by Environment Canada and the University of British Columbia, guides users through a decision process that combines sustainable development, adaptation and mitigation. This guidebook includes Canadian case studies, examples of potential adaptation actions, and an appendix on various analytical methods used in the adaptation decision-making process.

Risk Assessment

ADAPTool (Adaptive Design and Assessment Policy Tool) (2013): The ADAPTool was designed to evaluate a suite of public policies and programs for their ability to adapt to climate change, among other stressors. The user answers 15 questions through an online user interface and interactive workbook. The development of the ADAPTool was lead by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

7 Steps to Assess Climate Change Vulnerability in Your Community (2012): This workbook, developed through the Atlantic Climate Adaptation Solutions Association, helps communities plan for climate change by providing seven steps to assess vulnerability in the following areas: flooding, coastal vulnerability, slope movement, drinking water supply, winter and wildfire. This workbook is complemented by the Managing Municipal Infrastructure in a Changing Climate Workbook

Infrastructure Climate Risk Protocol (PIEVC) (2011): The Protocol guides infrastructure designers, owners and/or operators through a process of assessing climate change impacts on all or part of an infrastructure system, towards incorporating adaptation in design, management, and decommissioning. Created by the PIEVC, the Protocol is available free of charge by entering into a license agreement with Engineers Canada. This enables usage tracking and feedback on use.

Adapting to Climate Change: A Risk Based Guide for Local Governments (2010): This national guide, produced for the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee (PIEVC), provides a process to help users identify, analyze and communicate risks posed by climate change. It follows a standard risk management approach and uses Canadian terminology. The guide provides a methodology and helpful hints on the risk assessment process.


Parking lot development that limits urban heat islands (2013): This guide, produced by the Bureau de Normalisation du Québec, is a tool to help landscape architects, developers and urban planners design parking lots and manage runoff that limits urban heat islands. (French only)

Water Management

Water Balance Model (2012): This decision support tool, produced by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC, bridges engineering and planning by creating scenario models across three levels of drainage site, development and watershed. Through a set of modules, the tool can help users improve urban stream health through rainwater runoff source control evaluation. The climate change module demonstrates future projected impacts (2020, 2050 and 2080) on watershed hydrology in BC and Alberta. Future updates are planned to add other geographic regions to the database for this module.

Professional Practice Guidelines – Legislated Flood Assessments in a Changing Climate in B.C. (2012): Prepared by the Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (B.C.), these guidelines present flood assessment procedures, standard and risk-based approaches, and, methods for anticipating climate change and land surface change. The practices are based on legislation in B.C., but can also inform professionals from other regions of Canada.

Rethinking our Water Ways: A Guide to Water and Watershed Planning for B.C. Communities in the Face Of Climate Change and Other Challenges (2011): This guide, prepared by the Fraser Basin Council, was developed for local governments and community stakeholders in B.C., with lessons learned transferable to other regions. It describes water and watershed planning, including the integration of climate change considerations into managing water supply and demand, and storm-water management plans.

Implementation Framework for Climate Change Adaptation Planning at a Watershed Scale. (2015): This Implementation Framework for Climate Change Adaptation Planning at a Watershed Scale (Framework) was developed by the Water Monitoring and Climate Change Project Team of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Water Management Committee (WMC). The Framework provides watershed managers with a structured process to identify and reduce climate vulnerability and risk, and build resiliency within the watershed. 


L’évaluation économique des biens et services écosystémiques dans un contexte de changements climatiques (2012): This adaptation guide proposes to standardize and make consistent the use of environmental economic assessment tools by looking at key components, from the definition of ecosystem goods and services, to the methods used to ascertain their usefulness.

Urban Forests: A Climate Adaptation Guide (2010): This guide, produced by the Province of British Columbia (B.C.), provides information on how urban forests can be utilized to help manage climate change impacts. It discusses adaptation measures to increase the resiliency of urban forests in future climates. Although written for B.C. communities, the information may be relevant to other regions.


Managing climate risks: HIGHLIGHTS FOR BUSINESS LEADERS - This report is for business leaders looking ahead. It explains why acting now to prepare for future climate realities makes good business sense. The report draws from the most up-to-date analysis of climate change impacts, risks and responses across Canadian sectors and highlights approaches and resources to enhance climate resilience.

Paying the Price: The Economic Impacts of Climate Change for Canada (2011): The report describes and shows a cast range of physical impacts of a warming climate on Canada, with the aim to better understand the growing economic impacts of climate change to Canada and assess both the costs and the adaptation choices that can me made. 

Monitoring and Evaluation

Are we there yet? Applying Sustainability Indicators to Measure Progress on Adaptation (2015): The report presents a series of case studies highlighting forty indicators across four sectors: coastal management, flood management, infrastructure, and health. These indicators are applicable at varying orders of government; municipal, regional, provincial, and federal. Additionally, some case studies may be applied to other levels of jurisdiction such as a health unit, conservation authority or conservation council/district.