Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 825–837 | Cite as

Climate change adaptation planning in remote, resource-dependent communities: an Arctic example

  • Tristan Pearce
  • James D. Ford
  • Amanda Caron
  • Bill Patrick Kudlak
Original Article


This paper develops a methodology for climate change adaptation planning in remote, resource-dependent communities. The methods are structured using a vulnerability framework, and community members, local stakeholders and researchers are engaged in an iterative planning process to identify, describe, prioritize and pilot adaptation actions. The methods include: (1) analysis of secondary sources of information, (2) community collaboration and partnership building, (3) adaptation planning workshops, (4) adaptation plan development, (5) key informant and community review and (6) pilot adaptation actions. Vulnerability to climate change is assessed in the context of other non-climatic factors—social, political, economic and environmental, already being experienced in communities and which influence how climate change is experienced and responded to. Key exposure-sensitivities and related adaptation options are identified in five sectors of a community: business and economy, culture and learning, health and well-being, subsistence harvesting, and transportation and infrastructure. This organization allows for focused discussions and the involvement of relevant stakeholders and experts from each sector. The methodology is applied in Paulatuk, an Inuit community located in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR), Northwest Territories (NWT), Canada, and key findings are highlighted. The methods developed have important lessons for adaptation planning in remote, resource-dependent communities generally and contributes to a small but growing scholarship on methodology in the human dimensions of climate change.


Climate change Inuvialuit Adaptation Adaptation planning Arctic Remote communities Participatory research Climate policy  Inuit 



The authors wish to thank and acknowledge Albert Ruben, Ray Ruben, Herb Nakimayak, Debbie Gordon-Ruben, Mary Latifa Ruben, and Tony and Mary Green of Paulatuk, NWT for their constructive feedback; Yves Thériault, Michael Westlake and Martin Tremblay of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada for their ongoing support; Dr. Barry Smit and Frank Duerden for intellectual input; and KC Bolton for reviewing early drafts. Special thanks to Tanya Smith for her research and fieldwork contribution, Jason Prno, Trailhead Consulting, for researching the programmes and organizations to support adaptation actions, Melanie Irvine for technical expertise on landscape hazards, and Arianwen Goronwy-Roberts and Will Vanderbilt for design work. This project was funded by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada’s Climate Change Adaptation Program.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 11065 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography, McGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of Geography, University of GuelphGuelphCanada
  3. 3.Community of PaulatukPaulatuk, NWTCanada

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