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Learning with practitioners: climate change adaptation priorities in a Canadian community

Abstract

Adaptation is already a necessary response to climate change for northern communities. The City of Prince George, in British Columbia, Canada, has been adjusting to impacts for years and there is a high level of local awareness of climate change. The purpose of this study was to collaborate with City staff and other organizations to undertake action-oriented research with the goal of creating a local adaptation strategy. Steps taken toward this goal included: producing downscaled climate scenarios; facilitating a workshop with local practitioners to prioritize impacts; gathering public feedback regarding impacts; and triangulating sources of information to determine community adaptation priorities. Changes to forests and increased flooding are the top local adaptation priorities, and impacts related to transportation, severe weather and water supply are high priorities. Other impacts, such as health effects and agricultural changes, are also important but did not rank highly using a risk framework focused on negative physical effects. Local impacts, actions the City is undertaking to address them and suggestions for implementing adaptation measures are summarized. The process of creating an adaptation strategy has proven highly valuable in Prince George and has precipitated further engagement and action. Due to the low profile of adaptation and limited resources in many communities, researchers and practitioners must capitalize on opportunities to incorporate adaptation into existing plans and processes. Lessons from the Prince George experience can be applied to other communities as they strive to effectively adapt to climate change.

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Notes

  1. To view the adaptation strategy and for information on ongoing adaptation in Prince George visit: http://www.princegeorge.ca/environment/climatechange/adaptation/pages/default.aspx

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Acknowledgments

A great number of people and organizations have been invaluable in this project. The research has been supported by a Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions graduate fellowship. The City of Prince George has provided in-kind and monetary resources, and ongoing implementation work has been funded through the Natural Resources Canada Regional Adaptation Collaborative. In particular thanks to: Dave Dyer and Frank Blues from the City of Prince George; Arelia Werner and Trevor Murdock from the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium; Elizabeth Henry and Joan Chess from the Fraser Basin Council; Theresa Healy from Northern Health; Eric Rapaport from Dalhousie University; and Theo Mlynowski from UNBC. Thanks to the anonymous reviewers for their insightful feedback.

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Picketts, I.M., Curry, J., Déry, S.J. et al. Learning with practitioners: climate change adaptation priorities in a Canadian community. Climatic Change 118, 321–337 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-012-0653-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-012-0653-8

Keywords

  • Adaptation Strategy
  • British Columbia
  • Climate Change Adaptation
  • Adaptation Priority
  • Local Awareness