Obtain Senior Management and Council Endorsement
Ensure Approval and Support of Council
It’s likely that your community’s adaptation plan will need to pass through Council in order to ensure that each action is implemented. For all these reasons, it is important to identify a climate change champion within your community so they can present the plan to Council, and speak on the importance of the plan, providing a call to action.
If senior management and Council have not endorsed the adaptation plan, this needs to be done in order for the operational level to be completed. Gaining support and approval from Council is the first step in senior management and council endorsing the adaptation plan. A motion from Council to investigate climate risk is often the first step in development of an adaptation plan, and Council support will be essential to sustained continuation of the adaptation process, which will be ongoing for decades.
To achieve successful implementation of the adaptation initiative, it is important to ensure that the various agencies that may be involved in, or affected by, the activity are supportive. Local governments in Canada are required to comply with a host of regulations, guidelines and standards that are developed by other levels of government or regulatory bodies that govern professional practice. Additionally, many issues, such as the management of drinking water supply and demand, involve multiple agencies at municipal, regional, provincial and federal government levels.
It is therefore essential to a) build leadership support at the outset, b) establish collaborative engagement across the organization; c) communicate progress and achievements; and d) plan regularly scheduled refresh periods that are built into the strategy; e) engage Council and management in preparation for these updates.
If senior management and Council have endorsed the vision, and passed specific adaptation policy(ies) , they are successes that the adaptation team should communicate internally to staff and externally to stakeholders. Some tips include:
- Utilizing local climate projections and past history to inform locally relevant briefs for communication internally within the organization
- Use press releases to communicate externally to stakeholders and the community at large
- Use these releases to build momentum for the implementation phase and mark the achievements of the adaptation team to date
- As internal and external stakeholders are engaged, focus on action and emphasize local benefits. Be sure to identify the importance of adaptation efforts while still emphasizing the necessity of mitigation during engagement.
As the municipality engages in a climate change adaptation planning process, the following principles should be considered to help guide the work:
- Balance of immediate and long-term needs
- Interaction must be supplemented with action
- Commitment to act in the face of uncertainty
- Recognizing existing work
Retooling.ca’s Adaptation planning: the local government experience in BC goes into detail on how to identify leaders and champions in the community. According to the guide: “Champions are those who spend either mandated or personal time working on the climate change file, actively seeking out relevant information and communications tactics to move the adaptation issue forward. Leaders have the power to steer and uphold the initiatives of champions and influence decision-makers to prioritize adaptation and allocate resources. The most innovative communities have leaders and champions working together at both the political and staff levels.”
The identification of champions early on who can help convince council of adaptation readiness, or if they come from council members themselves, is critical in building relationships and partnerships within the organization and the overall community.