Partners for Action Report Release: At the Front Lines of Flood- How Prepared are Ontario Communities?


“Communities are at the front line of flood and climate adaptation, and are the first to react and drive the policy changes we need. However, some feel they are left to their own devices to make informed decisions about the risk of flood for their residents.”

We interviewed 18 Ontario municipalities, 2 First Nation communities, and 15 Conservation Authorities, asking them “How prepared is your community for flood”?

Click here to download the report.

Key findings from this study include:

  1. Flooding is a major source of socio-economic vulnerability in small and medium-sized Ontario communities, placing unnecessary strain on municipal resources, specifically urban flooding associated with damage from sewer backup.
  2. Communities are the first jurisdictions to react and drive the policy change needed to improve flood and climate change resiliency, but with scarce resources. Some feel they are ‘left to their own devices to make informed decisions’ about the magnitude of flood risk and implications for their residents.
  3. Communities are acting to manage vulnerability to flood, but these efforts are fragmented, creating uncertainty about their effectiveness. Communities also lack institutional and financial capacity to enforce, update and further invest in these actions to improve resiliency.
  4. Federal and provincial policy and funding to reduce vulnerability and improve capacity of our communities to prepare and recover from flood are underutilized and underdeveloped
  5. There is a strong divide in capacity to understand and address flood risk between urban and rural communities (including First Nation communities).
  6. Municipalities need funding, capacity, technical and scientific support, regulation, and community and political buy-in to address the present and future risk of flood.

What our Communities Need to Prepare for Flood

This study recommends that to improve resiliency in our communities, the following actions are required:

  • Public Safety Canada should establish and enforce national standards for flood risk management and mapping, and should also significantly expand and facilitate accessibility of funding through the National Disaster Mitigation Program.
  • The Ontario government should increase funding to Conservation Authorities for planning, flood management, and maintenance and operation of flood structures.
  • Provincial and federal governments should address the current leadership gap and prioritize community resiliency to flood by supporting communities in understanding and communicating risk and opportunities to reduce this risk.
  • All levels of government should further efforts to increase personal flood risk awareness, to encourage behavioural changes and increase the uptake of residential incentive programs.
  • All levels of government should work with the insurance industry to improve our understanding of flood risk in this country, and opportunities to reduce this risk.
  • Federal and provincial governments need to prioritize community resiliency and provide technical, planning, and financial support to community leaders. Additionally, Ontario should increase funding to Conservation Authorities to reliably fund management and flood protection activities for the long-term.
  • Federal and provincial governments need to prioritize community resiliency and provide technical, planning, and financial support to community leaders. Additionally, Ontario should increase funding to Conservation Authorities to reliably fund management and flood protection activities for the long-term.

Click here to download the report.


Job Opportunity: Climate Change Research Co-op


Great climate change job opportunity for a graduate student!

Position: Climate Change Research Co-op/Intern
Ministry: Agriculture
Salary: $1,661 biweekly ($23.73 per hour) (graduate level co-op)
Start/End Date: September 2016 to April 2017 (8 months)
Location: Victoria (note: please do not apply unless you are willing to be located in Victoria)
Application Deadline: July 11, 2016

This position is a unique opportunity to build understanding of the importance of agricultural climate change adaptation and to contribute to high priority policies, programs, and actions to advance climate change adaptation and mitigation in the B.C. agriculture sector. Note that the position is located in Victoria and that no relocation expenses will be paid.

B.C. agriculture is diverse: regionally, by commodities produced, and in terms of scale of operation. Agriculture is an important part of the lives of British Columbians and farm families, and a major economic driver in communities and the province as a whole. Climate change is already happening in B.C., and projections for the 2020s and 2050s point to significant impacts for agriculture, including excess moisture, pest outbreaks, sea level rise, and extreme weather events such as drought and flooding. For agricultural producers, climate change will result in increased management complexity, costs, and uncertainty – as well as new opportunities.

The Ministry of Agriculture’s Innovation and Adaptation Services Branch works to enhance agrifood and seafood sector growth, competitiveness, sustainability and adaptability. The branch provides expertise and support for: innovation, domestic and international marketing, management practices that promote sustainable and productive agrifood systems, and creating and maintaining a positive regulatory climate with local government. Within the branch, the climate action team works in partnership with the agriculture industry to build the sector’s adaptive capacity and resilience.

Through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial initiative, approximately $5.7 million in funding has been allocated over 2013 – 2018 to the climate adaptation program. The program is industry-led and delivered by the B.C. Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative (CAI). The program supports the development and implementation of multi-partner regional adaptation strategies in key agricultural areas of the province, and the piloting and demonstration of adaptation practices on B.C. farms and ranches. This programming is recognized across Canada as the most advanced and effective programming for agricultural adaptation to climate change.

British Columbia is currently developing a Climate Leadership Plan, and is participating in the development of the Pan-Canadian Framework for Clean Growth and Climate Change.

For more information and to apply, download the full job description here.


Save the Date: Flow and Grow Workshop


Flow and Grow: A workshop on how to respect ecosystem and cultural values, ensure food security, and build water-resilient communities 

On November 29, at the Capri Hotel in Kelowna, the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia and the Irrigation Industry Association of British Columbia (IIABC) will co-host the 4th in their “Annual Year-End Water Sustainability Workshop Series”. Each year the two groups look ahead to anticipate necessary directions for water resource management in the local government and agricultural sectors. The purpose of these events is to start and inform conversations around ‘bold ideas’. A desired outcome is that audiences will be both energized and inspired to make a difference when they leave the room.

ONLINE REGISTRATION: Visit the IIABC website (and follow the links) https://www.irrigationbc.com
PROGRAM OVERVIEW: Download Flow and Grow

Water from a Global Perspective & Beyond

FLOW AND GROW will explore the role of water from the global to the local with Bob McDonald of Quirks & Quarks fame on CBC Radio leading the opening module with Chief Aaron Sam of the Lower Nicola Indian Band on the theme Science & Spirit – An Inclusive Journey. In the closing module, their reflections on the day will be the springboard to a town-hall sharing and learning session on “where we go from here”.

Bob McDonald: Loved by audiences across Canada for making complex scientific issues understandable, meaningful, and fun, Bob McDonald is in high demand. A fixture in radio and television broadcasting for more than 30 years, he is currently the host of Quirks & Quarks–the award-winning science program that is heard by 500,000 people each week. Bob McDonald has authored four bestselling science books.

Chief Aaron Sam: Passionate about protecting and taking care of wild salmon, Aaron Sam has been a practicing lawyer for almost 10 years. As elected Chief, he continues to advocate for sustainable use of lands and waters, for the present and future generations.


Postdoctoral Fellow Position: Traditional Knowledge Water Strategy


The Yukon Research Centre at Yukon College, Whitehorse, is seeking a postdoctoral fellow to join their team for their project Chu äyì ätl?et (“The Water In Me”): Collaboratively Developing a Water Strategy for the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations’ Traditional Territory. 

A postdoctoral fellow (PDF) is being recruited for this SSHRC?funded project, based on demonstrated achievements, skill, and enthusiasm for northern community?based participatory research. The ideal candidate will have skills and experience related to community?based participatory research, traditional knowledge, northern indigenous paradigms, cultural values, language accessibility, archiving, values revitalization, First Nation self?governance, and/or resource co?management. This position is available immediately. ‘

The successful candidate will have a unique opportunity to be involved in an established and productive applied researcher?First Nation collaboration. The PDF will be based at the Yukon Research Centre (YRC) at Yukon College in Whitehorse, but will be jointly affiliated with University of Saskatchewan, supervised by the Project Director. This will give the PDF the opportunity to be part of an active, growing, respected northern research organization, while accessing research support offered by the University of Saskatchewan (e.g., journal resources, symposia, subject matter experts). The PDF will also spend time working from the offices of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN) in Whitehorse and Haines Junction, Yukon.

For more details, download the posting description here.


The Dynamics of Climate Change: From the Political to the Personal


Check out this important upcoming webinar:

The Dynamics of Climate Change: From the Political to the Personal
Wednesday, July 13th
12:00 pm ET

How can we respond to climate change? Can we build an economy powered by clean, renewable energy in time? Does the agreement forged at the recent Paris climate conference (COP21) deliver us from catastrophe, or is it another diplomatic disappointment? How can the science be made accessible to the policymakers, the media, and the public at large?

Join MIT Sloan Professor and Climate Interactive partner John Sterman for a one-hour, complimentary webinar to experience an interactive simulation that helps people understand climate change and the long-term climate impacts of policy scenarios.

This online event will explore the dynamics of the climate interactively and suggest what we can do both professionally and personally to build a safer, sustainable world. Known as C-ROADS, this award-winning modeling software has been used by more than 15,000 people, including policy makers and negotiators, in 53 nations around the world, and is freely available to participants in the webinar.

Participants of this webinar will learn:

  • Why discussions on climate change have led to so much public confusion
  • The state of climate policy after the Paris agreement
  • What we can do to manage the unavoidable and avoid the unmanageable
  • What impact you can have in your community

The webinar will be followed by a live Q&A with Professor Sterman on Facebook.

Click here to register.


Low Carbon Resilience: Transformative Climate Change Planning for Canada


Climate change is advancing at an alarming rate around the world. It is now more important than ever that we move ahead as fast as possible with emissions reduction (mitigation), while planning for resilience to the impacts that are already evident and projected to worsen (adaptation). However, these crucial pathways are still largely being considered separately.

This new white paper from ACT points to the co-benefits and synergies we can achieve if we consider adaptation and mitigation simultaneously. This approach has already been outlined under different names by a variety of experts, whose contributions we acknowledge and deeply appreciate.

We advocate here for its expansion by placing ecosystem health at the centre of planning for its implementation, in recognition of the crisis unfolding in the biosphere of which climate change is but one symptom. We are referring to this approach as “low carbon resilience.”

We hope this paper will act as a conversation starter, and stimulate both discussion and innovation as we move to implement meaningful action on the challenges we face.

Optimized for reading on the phone, or on all computers and mobile devices. Report is hyperlinked throughout
pdf_cover Download Now

Bob Sandford on ‘The Current’: Transnational Water Policy


Bob Sandford, ACT’s water policy adviser and co-author of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, appeared on CBC’s The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti today discussing international water policy and laws.

Two municipalities along the Great Lakes – one Canadian and one American- are currently battling over access to water that crosses borders. Bob’s expertise focuses on transnational water governance and water security, and he provided a neutral perspective on the situation.

Bob also discussed how what we know of our water cycles is changing as a result of climate change. What will this bring for future trans-border water policies?

Listen to the whole segment here.


Climate Adaptation 2016 Australia Conference








Do you have friends in Australia? Tell them to check out the upcoming Climate Adaptation 2016 conference, July 5-7th in Adelaide.

The NCCARF CSIRO Climate Adaptation conference (5-7 July) includes a diverse program of presentations, poster sessions, social and networking events.  International plenary speakers cover climate risks, coastal, health and financing issues.  Our local plenaries cover topics of defence and security, social vulnerability and marginalisation.

A range of sponsored sessions will discuss very real-world problems that represent the contemporary adaptation challenges:

  • Adelaide City Council recently finalised a collaborative adaptation plan and wants to facilitate a discussion around moving from planning to implementation.
  • When urban areas merge farming areas ‘how does that intersect with climate change risks?’ asks SARDI and the Mt Lofty NRM Board.
  • The Murray Darling Basin Authority  presents a case study of adaptation on a regional scale through discussion on topical issues in the Basin.
  • The Queensland Government and UQ’s Global Change Institute will discuss how effective governance arrangements can faciliate effective adaptation.
  • Critical infrastructure is in the spotlight with Adelaide airport just beginning their adaptation journey and SA Water detailing how they are responding to the adaptation challenge. And NSW Office of Environment and Heritage wants to foster a discussion on collaborative adaptation for infrastructure based on their Cross Dependency Initiative (XDI).

For more information on this conference, click here. 


Webinar: Understanding Climate Change Risks in Canada’s Coastal Regions


Check out this upcoming NRCan webinar:

Understanding Climate Change Risks in Canada’s Coastal Regions: From Infrastructure to Ecosystems
Thursday, June 16th
1:00-2:30 pm ET

Interactive Atlas on Sea Ice Hazards for Coastal Areas

As the climate of the arctic is changing rapidly, the need for precise information on ice state is needed by a number of experts such as navigators, climatologists, engineers and ecologists. The IcePAC project has developed an interactive sea ice atlas using informative maps and data on past, current and future sea ice conditions in the Hudson Bay based on remote sensing and predictive statistical methods.

– Monique Bernier, Institut national de la recherche scientifique
– Charles Gignac, Institut national de la recherche scientifique

Impacts of Climate Change and Physical barriers to Coastal Ecosystem Readjustment (Coastal Squeeze)

Coastal ecosystems in Canada are under stress from two sources: increasing urbanization along the coast and climate change (sea level rise and erosion), both leading to the degradation of these ecosystems and sometimes even their loss. This project assessed the combined impact of climate change and human activities on the evolution of coastal ecosystems in the Gulf and Estuary of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec and New Brunswick over the 2100 time horizon.

– Jean-Pierre Savard, Ouranos

Click here to register.


Presentations from Adaptation Canada 2016 Now Online


Adaptation Canada 2016 was a 3-day national symposium on climate change adaptation, held April 12-14 2016 in Ottawa.

Presentations from the conference are now online. Click here to download presentations in English, and click here to download presentations in French.

ACT’s Executive Director Deborah Harford spoke at the April 14th morning panel on biodiversity. Check out her presentation here.


Government of Alberta: Climate Leadership Plan Jobs








The Government of Alberta is hiring for a number of positions in their Climate Change Office, focusing on their provincial Climate Leadership Plan.

Available positions include:

  • Director, Adaptation and Energy Efficiency –> Deadline: June 10
  • Policy Coordinator –> Deadline: June 7
  • Project Engineer –> Deadline: June 7
  • Director, Emissions Inventory and Trading –> Deadline: June 16
  • Carbon Offset Policy Advisor –> Deadline: June 13
  • Public Affairs Officer –> Deadline: June 10

Apply for these and other positions by clicking here.


Agriculture and Food Security: Enabling the Planning Practitioner

The PIBC South Coast Chapter will be exploring the challenges and opportunities facing planners and local decision makers working with the agriculture sector and facilitating food security in their communities.

Throughout BC, people and agriculture have converged, often experiencing land use conflict or concerns between farm & non-farm uses. However, the proximity (and diversity!) of BC agriculture and communities also provides opportunities for education about agriculture & food, increased community access to local foods, and growing markets for farm products.

In addition, the potential impacts of climate change to the agriculture sector are of growing concern – requiring new tools and resources to help support producers with adaptation. Mitigating these climate change impacts and building resilience requires collaboration and partnerships at all levels. The role of local governments in considering agriculture in land use decisions and policy is of increasing importance.

Through a series of short presentations offering a range of perspectives on agriculture and food security, session attendees will build their awareness and insights as to how planning practitioners can work more effectively with the agriculture sector and promote food security within their communities and professional practice.

Register Now!
June 16th 2016 from 6:30pm – 8:45pm

Vancouver Public Library
350 W Georgia Street
Vancouver, BC

• PIBC Members $20
• Non-Members $25
• Students $15
All prices are subject to 5% Goods & Services Tax (GST).

Registration Deadline will be on Tuesday June 14th, 2016. All registrations are final. No refunds or cancellations are permitted; however, in the event that a registrant is not able to attend, substitution of a different attendee may be accepted if arranged in advance. Any registrant requiring substitution should contact PIBC no later than June 15th 2016.

See the poster below for more information (click to enlarge).




Webinar: The Status of the Circular Economy


Another intriguing webinar offered by the Security & Sustainability Forum:

The Status of the Circular Economy
Tuesday June 21st, 1:15-2:45 pm ET

The Circular Economy is more than minimizing waste generation.  It is a “cradle to rarely reaching the grave” approach to the economy and human activity. CE concepts rest on comprehensive approaches to closing loops, thus transforming our linear extract-make-use-dispose economy and reducing human-kind’s use of Earth’s assets, as well as minimizing natural and social system impacts.

Earth’s resources are large but finite and human population is growing, so something has to give to converge on an acceptable quality of life for living on the planet.

In this 90-minute webinar, circular economy experts from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, The Sustainability Consortium, managed jointly by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas, plus other experts will provide a perspective on the status of the circular economy from theory to implementation.  Presenters will provide case studies of industry leading business programs, supply chain applications and approaches for business – municipal collaborations.

Click here to register.


Webinar: Integrated Land Use


Check out this upcoming webinar offered by the Security & Sustainability Forum:

Integrated Land Use: What Do Individuals and Societies Need From Landscapes? 
June 2nd, 2016
1:15- 2:45 pm

The ongoing extensification of agriculture is leading to historically unprecedented tradeoffs between food production and other ecosystem services such as biodiversity, non-timber forest products, landscapes aesthetics, culture, and many others. These tradeoffs are global, and sustainability scientists examine the telecoupled effects of globalization on traditional land management and societies.
This webinar will discuss the difficult balance we now face in feeding upwards of 9 billion while maintaining other ecosystem services, and between individual and societal benefits. Case studies will include grasslands and forests in northern and southern China, farm-forest-estuary interfaces in Maritime Canada, and crop-grassland agriculture in western North America and eastern Australia.
Panelists include:
  • Arizona State University  Senior Sustainability Scientist, Arianne Cease, who focuses on the ecology and physiology of organisms in coupled natural and human systems.
  • Josh MacFadyen, Assistant Professor of Environmental Humanities at ASU, whose work examines the social and ecological problems of energy in Canadian and U.S. agriculture, particularly during the transition from traditional to modern agro-ecosystems.
  • McGill University Research Scientist and Assistant Professor, Brian Robinson, who focuses on how people meet their needs through use of ecosystems and resources, and the role this plays in development in poorer regions of the world.

Click here to register.


Fraser Basin Council Report Released: BC Floods Risky, Costly


Source: File photo, CTV news.

The Fraser Basin Council released their report on flood risk in British Columbia, including their assessment of the state of the province’s diking system.

From CTV News:

“The Fraser Basin Council says a major flood along the coast or the Fraser River could be the most costly natural disaster in Canadian history, with potential losses of about $32 billion.

“The group says in its report that flood risks are projected to worsen over the next 85 years, both in size and frequency.

“The report notes dikes in the Lower Mainland were constructed in the 1970s and ’80s, that 71 per cent of those assessed could fail if either the Fraser River or the coast floods and that only 4 per cent of the barriers meet provincial standards for crest height.”

Click here to read more from the article, and click here to read the full report and other updates on this project from the Fraser Basin Council.


Climate Nexus Webinar: Slides and Summary Online


ACT’s two most senior advisers, Bob Sandford and Jon O’Riordan, recently presented a POLIS webinar. In this webinar, the speakers shared insights from their recent publication “The Climate Nexus: Water, Food, Energy & Biodiversity in a Changing World.” The presentation highlighted how changing hydro-climate systems are creating a crisis for the Nexus elements, and discussed the range of transformative policies required to manage this crisis.

The webinar was held on Thursday April 26th. POLIS has prepared a summary of the webinar presentation, whcih you cnan access by clicking here.

To learn more about our Climate Nexus book, click here. 


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