About ACT

ACT brings leading experts from around the world together with industry, community, and government decision-makers to explore the risks posed by top-of-mind climate change issues and identify opportunities for sustainable adaptation.

We are

The first, and still the only, university-based thinktank initiative in North America dedicated to a comprehensive suite of climate change adaptation issues

We are

Involved in adaptation in Canada and internationally through academic, corporate and community events, networks and affiliations

We are

A publisher of research reports identifying policy opportunities and resources designed to bridge from theory to action in support of sustainable adaptation

We are

A clearing house for Canadian and international adaptation and climate change information

We are

A way to get involved

A research initiative in the Faculty of Environment at SFU, supported by SFU researchers and faculty as well as experts from other institutions, ACT advances adaptation research in Canada and internationally through academic, corporate and community research, events, networks and affiliations, with a core focus on analysis of adaptation options, policy recommendations and guidelines for all levels of government as well as professional practice sectors.

Our topic areas include impacts resulting from current and projected climate changes in key areas of concern, encompassing water and food security, infrastructure, energy, biodiversity, population displacement, and more. We research solutions and develop resources, bringing the results together in beautifully designed, accessible reports and resources that identify policy opportunities and practical guidance on bridging from theory to action. ACT also contributes extensively to outreach and education on sustainable adaptation across Canada and internationally and works to amplify and leverage the complementary work of others.

Climate warming is locked in until 2050, with the possibility of increases beyond this period depending on the success or failure of global emissions reduction efforts. The world has already seen one degree of warming the world to date and the effects are already measurable. Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe, with especially severe consequences for northern Canada in the near term, and implications for all sectors of the economy as well as the wellbeing of communities and ecosystems.

Since 2016, ACT has been developing a focus on streamlined climate actions and processes, an approach known as low carbon resilience (LCR), designed to ensure that emissions reduction and adaptation are integrated and mutually reinforcing, avoiding the risks of counteraction and failure posed by proceeding in silos. This work also seeks to identify actions with the widest levels of potential co-benefits for health, equity, biodiversity, and other areas of concern.

ACT is partnered with numerous regional and national organizations as well as national and provincial professional associations, and many others. Our findings have stimulated new policymaking and research as well as widespread public and media interest. ACT’s advisers include senior policy and practice experts from government and academia.

Deborah Harford

Executive Director

As executive director of ACT, Deborah Harford is responsible for development of the initiative’s pioneering vision and its partnerships with the public, private and philanthropic sectors, as well as overall management of the program. She directs and produces ACT’s research and policy recommendations designed to advance effective, sustainable adaptation strategies at all levels of government and across sectors, as well as communication and promotion of the program’s outcomes.

Through Deborah’s efforts, ACT has created networks between local, national and international climate change research practitioners, NGOs, industry representatives, all levels of government, First Nations, and local communities. Deborah’s work with ACT has gained her international recognition as a resource for those seeking information on climate change adaptation and practical coping strategies.

A widely sought-after speaker and facilitator, Deborah contributes to a wide variety of national and international adaptation processes and initiatives on an ongoing basis. Recent examples of engagements and partnerships include Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Expert Panel on Adaptation and Resilience Results (2018), the Council of Canadian Academies’ Expert Panel on Canada’s Top Climate Change Risks (2019), the Technical Working Group of the Canadian Centre for Climate Services, the Infrastructure & Buildings Working Group of Canada’s National Adaptation Platform, and the Expert Adaptation Panel of the new Canadian Institute for Climate Choices.

Deborah is a Climate Solutions Fellow at SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. She is an Adjunct Professor at SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management and the University of Toronto’s School of the Environment.

Advisory Board

Dr. Zafar Adeel >

Adeel is the Executive Director of the Pacific Water Research Centre at SFU’s Faculty of Environment. His research interests include water security and the nexus of water, food and energy security and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Adeel served a 10-year tenure as the Director of United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) in Hamilton, Canada, and was elected to serve as the 2010-2012 Chair for UN-Water, which coordinates the international work of over 60 United Nations and organizations working on water issues. Adeel also co-chaired the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment team that produced the global desertification synthesis in 2005. www.sfu.ca/rem/people/profiles/adeel.html

Dr. Stewart Cohen >

Stewart is a former senior researcher with Environment and Climate Change Canada. He has contributed to more than 125 publications on climate change impacts and adaptation, including a textbook, “Climate Change in the 21st Century”, published by McGill-Queens University Press. Dr. Cohen has been a member of author teams for national assessments of climate change in Canada and the United States, as well as several publications of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He currently produces a blog on climate change, which can be found at www.doctorclimatechange.com

Tamsin Mills >

Tamsin Mills is a planner by training after an early career in forest ecology. She has worked in the climate change adaptation field for almost a decade after looking at structured decision making for adaptation decisions during her Master’s degree. Tamsin wrote the first municipal adaptation plan in Canada for the City of Vancouver in 2012 and led its development and implementation including the novel Coastal Flood Risk Assessment. She now works both for the City of Vancouver and as a consultant for local governments and organizations around BC supporting resilience and climate change action planning. http://www.linkedin.com/in/tamsin-mills-0a07b199

Dr. Nancy Olewiler (ACT co-founder) >

Nancy is an economist, Director of and Professor in the School of Public Policy at Simon Fraser University. Her PhD is in economics from the University of British Columbia. Nancy’s areas of research focus on public policy, including natural resource, energy, and climate policy, and regulation and risk. She has published in academic journals, edited books, provided reports for governments, has written two widely used textbooks, and teaches graduate courses in policy analysis, economics, and regulation. Nancy has served on a number of boards of directors including BC Hydro, Powertech, and TransLink. She is currently is a member of the Climate Solutions Clean Growth Council for BC, and also serves on the board of directors for the Institute for Research on Public Policy, Technical Safety BC, Genome BC, and the Pembina Institute. She chairs the Macroeconomic Accounts Advisory Committee for Statistics Canada. https://www.sfu.ca/mpp/faculty-associates/nancy-olewiler.html

Dr. Alison Shaw (Lead Researcher, ICABCCI) >

Alison was the first authorized researcher to explore how scientists and policymakers influence one another in the Nobel-Prize winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). She is Founder and Principal at FlipSide Sustainability, which applies cutting-edge research and pioneering tools to help public and private sector clients account for people and planet alongside budgets and profit. Alison is the Lead Researcher on ACT’s Integrated Climate Action for BC Communities Initiative (ICABCCI). https://flipsidesustainability.com

Dr. Mark Vardy (Post Doctoral Fellow, ICABCCI) >

Mark is passionate about meeting the challenge of climate change through innovative and creative collaborations. For Rice University, he conducted research to understand the post-disaster decision-making processes that Houston, Texas residents faced after Hurricane Harvey. At Princeton University, he interviewed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) authors about navigating diverse scientific disciplines and geographic backgrounds to produce an evidence basis for action. Mark is a Post Doctoral Fellow working on ACT’s Integrated Climate Action for BC Communities Initiative (ICABCCI).

ACT Goals

ACT strives to model the key qualities required to advance sustainable adaptation, which include: translation of research into practice and action; collaboration and relationship-building; bridge-building between practice sectors, NGOs and all levels of government; interdisciplinary scenario and solution development; widespread education and outreach; a focus on win-wins and co-benefits; equitable representation for voices that may not commonly be at the table; contributions to a variety of initiatives led by others; and development of accessible resources and publications sharing the results for a variety of audiences, from decision-makers to practitioners to community groups.

Our Partners

The Bullitt Foundation believes that positive environmental impact begins with innovation and partnership. With grant making focused on the Pacific Northwest Emerald Corridor – specifically, the region stretching from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, British Columbia (bordered by the Cascades on the east) – the Foundation funds ACT’s special project on Biodiversity-led Green Infrastructure.