Consult with Public and Private Stakeholders

Develop adaptation options for how to overcome the impacts of climate change. These options should be broken down into short and long term time frames and should reflect the community’s vision, goals, and objectives previously identified.
Adaptation options include a wide range of actions or activities and will likely involve some combination of the following:

  • Modifying policies, plans, practices and procedures
  • Strategic timing, for instance, positioning planning proposals and actions to coincide with policy refresh periods or growth strategy updates
  • Building new or upgrading existing infrastructure
  • Improving community awareness and public education
  • Varying and/or diversifying options, including developing “safeguards” against climate change impacts
  • Ensuring that all aspects of community services are considered and included
  • Consideration of regional and public sector infrastructure, planning processes, regional growth strategies, and ecosystem health

“Inclusive processes emphasize the need for broad consultation and many views to create a sense of shared ownership of a joint vision to build city resilience.” – City of Edmonton’s Climate Resilient Plan

There are a variety of reasons motivating communities to pursue adaptation planning. Some communities are motivated by events, such as flooding or wildfires that have occurred or are expected to occur, while others have a history of proactive community leadership and are building on that footing when it comes to adaptation planning. What will drive an adaptation effort in the community will be based on some combination of political will, financial resources, personnel, and public support.

Identifying Stakeholders

In order to initiate the climate change adaptation planning process, identify a list of possible stakeholders, a climate change adaptation team, champion, and identification of municipal plans and actions.

Involving a variety of stakeholders is an important component to securing widespread support for the implementation of adaptation actions.  For example, Ontario conservation authorities are very important in riverine floodwater management.  Many of the challenges of adapting to climate change can be overcome by developing working relationships with both internal and external stakeholders. Relationships between and among local governments, utilities, universities, non-governmental organizations, community-based entities and business organizations are helpful in turning the abstract idea of planning for climate change into concrete joint activities. Identifying stakeholders will also help to further establish the context of the adaptation plan by refining how far reaching the adaptation activities will be.

Regardless of the approach, be sure to consider stakeholders that may be outside of the immediate working area. When identifying potential stakeholders either for the adaptation team, or to be involved in key communication and input points along the way, it is important to be as specific as possible and identify:

  • Internal stakeholders with responsibility for management of climate change impacts such as infrastructure, public communications, natural resources, economic development and emergency services (this will help later on when identifying potential adaptation team members)
  • Existing relationships with external stakeholders, such as regional alliances of local governments, environment or community groups, universities, local businesses, industry associations, insurers, utilities, scientific research bodies and other levels of government
  • External stakeholders with whom you do not have an existing relationship but which may be valuable to the municipality’s adaptation process.

Being Strategic & Articulating Benefits

When it comes to adaptation, community consultation and engagement in solutions will be more important than ever, particularly because of the potential trade-offs that will be required.

West Coast Environmental Law’s Preparing for Climate Change notes that it is important to implement strategic practices in order to carry out robust community consultation processes so that businesses, households, individuals and community groups understand the basic science and will participate to some degree in developing and implementing adaptation strategies. Cooperating and collaborating with other local governments, provincial and federal governments, government agencies, First Nations, and local associations to access adequate resources and capacity to assess climate change impacts and implement effective responses. Regional growth strategies are adopted after an iterative process in which “all reasonable efforts” are made by regional boards and affected local governments to reach agreement on their contents. Consultation with citizens, First Nations, district boards and other levels of government is required.  It is critical to make sure that their input is listened to and included in determining adaptation priorities.  However, no public hearing is necessary before adoption. 

Through articulating the expected benefits and outcomes of climate adaptation to council and stakeholders, it’s easier to garner support and funding for potential adaptation initiatives. To prepare for this stage, identify potential benefits of adaptation planning, and plan to share these benefits in a concise and straightforward way with council and stakeholders.

Potential benefits of adaptation planning include:

  • Insurance against risk
  • Reducing vulnerability
  • Creating opportunities
  • Lower long-term costs
  • Reduced risk

In many cases, the drivers of action will be the co-benefits and opportunities, which result from the implementation of that action. Co-benefit strategies are those which aim for the win-win options and have multiple benefits and which often build the most momentum and support. For example, a co-beneficial action may be one that addresses both adaptation and mitigation goals, or it might be an action which is both cost effective and will increase local adaptive capacity.

It may be a good idea to present positive co-benefits first in order to gather full support from council. Co-benefits are strategies, which aim for the win-win options and have multiple benefits.

Case Studies

Case Study

Quebec City Adaptation Plan

In 2006, Quebec City decided to create an adaptation strategy for its Environmental Services department. This proactive approach was driven by the desire to reduce both the costs and negative effects of a changing climate on the City’s operations and infrastructure. During the development of the plan, it was recognized that many actions existed in management plans that could be considered adaptation actions as they serve to reduce vulnerability to climactic changes. Therefore, throughout the planning and consultation process, staff was encouraged to identify both existing and new adaptation measures. Both were included in the final adaptation plan, which commits the Environmental Services department to consider the impacts of a changing climate in all of its operations, projects, plans and bylaws. However, the majority of adaptation actions included in the plan target the aquatic environment and drinking water in Quebec City as these are areas of high vulnerability.

Case Study

City of Surrey Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy

During the development of the City of Surrey’s Coastal Flooding Adaptation Strategy, over 2,000 members of the public and 30 organizations were consulted through workshops, open houses, focus groups, project surveys, and engagement events, with over 20 letters of support attained.  The community-driven approach helped Surrey secure the largest federal grant ($76.7 million) through the Disaster Mitigation Adaptation Fund.  Stakeholder groups were formed and consulted throughout all phases of the project, including:

  • CFAS Steering Committee (Internal interdepartmental group from several departments)
  • CFAS Advisory group (Volunteer group from key partner and stakeholder organizations and agencies)
  • City of Surrey committees
  • Semiahmoo First Nation
  • Regulators, Land Stewardship Groups, Asset Owners
  • General Public (included property owner associations)