ADAPTATION STRATEGY 4

Establish adaptation team and committee

To initiate and facilitate the climate change adaptation planning process, a dedicated climate change champion, team, and steering committee are helpful. The climate change planning team will guide adaptation efforts from start to finish and beyond, helping to establish or refine visions, goals, and objectives. The team will also provide critical insights into assessing vulnerability and risk, selecting adaptation actions, and tracking and evaluating the success of those actions.
Since adaptation to climate change is a multi-sectoral issue encompassing many realms, practitioners, and areas of work, a diverse and inclusive steering committee can help oversee and lead on strategic visioning for deployment of adaptation initiatives by the climate adaptation team.

Staff from across all municipal departments can be involved in the climate adaptation process, as it encourages an integrated approach to planning that requires examination of the environmental, economic, social, and health implications of climate change.  Any internal adaptation steering committee should reflect multi-departmental representation.

For example, in the Tribal Climate Adaptation Guide Book, the climate change planning team will guide adaptation efforts from start to finish and beyond. The team will help establish or refine visions, goals, and objectives. The team will provide critical insights into assessing vulnerability and risk, selecting adaptation actions, and tracking and evaluating the success of those actions. The team will be important in reaching out to other members of the community and championing climate resilience work.

Form the Adaptation Team

The planning team could consider pursuing diverse participation from as many sections of the community as possible to ensure that all voices are heard in the planning process. The size of the planning team depends on the scope of the planning process and should strike a balance between ensuring adequate representation—from different departments, elders, and community members—and ensuring effective participation from all planning team members. Beyond the planning team, other community members can be involved as contributors, subject matter experts, and interested community members.

There are both pros and cons to having a team that is made up of only staff or one that is a mix of both internal and external stakeholders. A major benefit of external stakeholders is building buy-In for options that the municipality cannot do alone.  Shared responsibility is to the municipality’s benefit.  It may be the case that working internally allows for more frank and open discussions and it may be more efficient as members are likely to be familiar with each other and common processes. On the other hand, having a team that is made up of both internal and external members may result in a more comprehensive mandate and show members of the public that the local authority is keen to engage with the community and work together. The number and background of the team members will vary. The team makeup that is appropriate for the municipality will depend on the specific impacts likely to occur in the region; the infrastructure and policies that will be affected; and how the local government intends to interact with other stakeholders and the public to prepare for climate change.41As such, it is important to take a first look at impacts at the beginning of the adaptation process, so as to bring on additional members to the adaptation team as the municipality’s needs may change and evolve over time.

One place to begin the research is with department heads and staff from the within the municipal government. By drawing on the expertise that exists internally, you can determine the type of information that is currently available and where there are gaps that require more research. Other options include collecting information through more formal staff meetings, special workshops, or informal discussions. Interviews with long-time residents, examining government records, and reviewing media archives (i.e. newspapers and magazines) are also effective ways of gathering more information on the impacts of notable past climate and weather events.

Create a Steering Committee

BC Agriculture & Climate Change’s Regional Adaptation Strategies Series for Delta outlined the importance of a joint Steering Committee as a part of the implementation and monitoring phase in the adaptation practice.  It requires on-going cooperation and commitment across these and other partners, but is critically important. While it is understood that many partners will be involved in delivering various actions, a steering committee will play a key role in monitoring and taking an adaptive management approach over time.

Since adaptation in climate change is such a multi-sectoral issue encompassing many realms, practitioners, and areas of work, it’s imperative that a diverse and inclusive Steering Committee is appointed in order to oversee and lead on strategic visioning for deployment of adaptation initiatives by the climate adaptation team.  It is also vital that the eventual adaptation plan reflect the priority assets identified in the risk and vulnerability assessment.

Developing a Mandate

ICLEI’s Changing Communities guide (p. 19) outlines the steps in developing a mandate for the adaptation team to guide their efforts. Working with the team, you will need to develop a mandate for the adaptation team. The following questions are intended to help guide the development of the mandate:

  • Is the adaptation team being established as a permanent working group?
  • What are the ultimate deliverables the team is responsible for?
  • How much time does the team have to accomplish these deliverables?
  • What resources are available for the team to accomplish its work?
  • What authority does the team have?
  • To whom is the team accountable? A clear and strong mandate will not only help the team with its work but will also give legitimacy to the work that is being carried out from an outside perspective

Spread the Knowledge

There are five key mechanisms available to local governments to utilize and drive local action on climate change adaptation. These are:

  1. Land use and urban planning: A key role of local government is to manage infrastructure and assets in a coordinated, planned way that can balance priority assets while reflecting the community’s shared vision in adapting to climate change.
  2. Licensing and regulation: Local governments can utilize their powers to set the local regulatory environment through assessment and approval processes, the use of surcharges and rebates, and through the enforcement of local laws, to implement and enforce adaptive policies.
  3. Facilitation, advocacy and leadership: Local government is in close contact with community organizations, businesses, residents and other stakeholders at the local level. This influence can be used to develop shared understandings and encourage whole community responses to climate change.
  4. Community service delivery, community development and civic engagement: Local governments are committed to preserving the safety, health and wellbeing of residents and visitors, and to ensuring active civic participation.
  5. Workforce development: As responsible corporate citizens, local governments can lead the way in ensuring good occupational health and safety systems including through the reduction of workplace risks.

The adaptation team will likely have to seek the input of senior management and department heads to find specific answers to the questions above. Making a detailed financial plan, or at least considering the financing mechanisms in as much detail as possible, will make the adaptation plan much more comprehensive. Although the municipality may already have mechanisms which can help to determine whether you are meeting the goals and objectives, it will be important to set specific targets to measure the progress and success in meeting the adaptation objectives and actions. These targets should be included within the adaptation plan, as they will provide a benchmark for the municipality’s successes and challenges.  Once the adaptation team is formed, it is important to assess what common understanding exists about climate change and how it affects the community. It is important to look at these questions at the beginning of the process so that you can ascertain what is already known about climate change and its impacts. Take this opportunity to brainstorm how climate change is impacting (or how it will impact) the community, what you already know about climate change, and how the municipality currently addresses climate change impacts via informal adaptation actions or existing policies that might include adaptation components. This will be a good opportunity to gather the adaptation team to brainstorm with, you may also want to consider bringing in additional people from various departments as this will help ensure that a broad spectrum of potential impacts is covered.

It is important that staff and decision makers from all departments within the local government are made aware of the importance of adaptation planning. Since adaptation actions will be required across most (if not all) departments, informing staff and managers from these departments early on in the process about projected climate change and the related impacts will help build support for the planning process.  Departments to consider for adaptation planning are illustrated in the table below from ICLEI’s Changing Communities guide.

Departments    
Agriculture Environment Police
Coastal Zone Management Finance and Administration Port and Harbour Management
Communications Fire Services Public Health
Economic Development, Culture and Tourism Housing Transportation
Emergency Management Legal Services Water
Energy Parks and Recreations Waste
Engineering Planning and Zoning