The BC Ministry of Environment is tasked to foster and enhance a clean, healthy and naturally diverse environment. In 2009, the Environmental Stewardship and Parks and Protected Areas Divisions of the BC Ministry of Environment distributed Common Statements of Understanding and Working Principles related to climate change adaptation. These principles should be taken into consideration in all future projects and planning. The Ministry recognizes that it must prepare for and adapt to the unavoidable impacts rising greenhouse gas concentrations will cause throughout the Province.

California Water Plan Update 2009: Volume 1 - The Strategic Plan

California Water Plan Update 2009 presents the latest statewide strategic plan for water management - a roadmap to year 2050. Updated every 5 years, the California Water Plan provides a framework for water managers, legislators, and the public to consider options and make decisions regarding California's water future. Our goal is to meet Water Code requirements, receive broad support among those participating in California's water planning, and create a useful document for the public, water managers and planners throughout the state, legislators, Tribes, and other decision-makers. The Update is comprised of five volumes: Volume 1 - The Strategic Plan; Volume 2 - Resource Management Strategies; Volume 3 - Regional Reports; Volume 4 - Reference Guide; and Volume 5 - Technical Guide.

INE, part of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, is responsible for the generation of scientific and technical information on environmental issues, as well as capacity building in human resourse areas, in order to inform society, support decision making, encourage the protection of the environment, and promote the sustainable use of natural resources.

The Rhode Island Bays, Rivers, and Watersheds Coordination team is a state interagency commission dedicated to the protection, management, restoration and sustainable development of Rhode Island's fresh and marine waters and watersheds. The BRWCT conducts strategic interagency planning, fosters coordination of government programs and partnerships, and makes targeted investments in science, monitoring, policy analysis, and the pursuit of strategic projects in support of our aquatic environments and their human uses.

2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy

Led by the California Natural Resources Agency, numerous other state agencies were involved in the creation of the strategy including Environmental Protection; Business, Transportation and Housing; Health and Human Services; and the Department of Agriculture. This report focuses on sectors that include: Public Health; Biodiversity and Habitat; Ocean and Coastal Resources; Water Management; Agriculture; Forestry; and Transportation and Energy Infrastructure. The strategy is in direct response to Gov. Schwarzenegger's November 2008 Executive Order S-13-08 that specifically asked the Natural Resources Agency to identify how state agencies can respond to rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, sea level rise, and extreme natural events.

Dawson Climate Change Adaptation Plan

The Dawson Adaptation Plan is based on a collaborative process that draws on the experience and knowledge of residents and integrates it with scientific expertise. The plan is primarily intended as a resource for community use and to support other planning and decision-making processes in the study area, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Traditional Territory. The Dawson Adaptation project team itself is made up by members of the International Polar Year Dawson Community Adaptation and Vulnerability in Arctic Regions (CAVIAR) team, and the Northern Climate ExChange (NCE).

Natural Security: How Sustainable Water Strategies are Preparing Communities for a Changing Climate

From the Executive Summary:

Clean water is essential to our health, our communities, and our lives. Yet our water infrastructure (drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems, dams, and levees) is seriously outdated. In addition, we have degraded much of our essential natural infrastructure (forests, streams, wetlands, and floodplains). Climate change will worsen the situation, as rising temperatures, increased water demands, extended droughts, and intense storms strain our water supplies, flood our communities, and pollute our waterways.

The same approaches we have used for centuries will not solve today’s water challenges. We need to fundamentally transform the way we manage water.

A 21st century approach would recognize “green infrastructure” as the core of our water management system. Green infrastructure is the most cost-effective and flexible way for communities to deal with the impacts of global warming. It has three critical components:

  • Protect healthy landscapes like forests and small streams that naturally sustain clean water supplies.
  • Restore degraded landscapes like floodplains and wetlands so they can better store flood water and recharge streams and aquifers.
  • Replicate natural water systems in urban settings, to capture rainwater for outdoor watering and other uses and prevent stormwater and sewage pollution.

This report highlights eight forward-looking communities that have become more resilient to the impacts of climate change by embracing green infrastructure. They have taken steps to prepare themselves in four areas where the effects of rising temperatures will be felt most: public health, extreme weather, water supply, and quality of life. In each case study we demonstrate how these water management strategies build resilience to the projected impacts of climate change in that area and how the communities that have adopted them will continue to thrive in an uncertain future.

Climate, Agriculture and Food Security: A Strategy for Change

Agriculture – on which we all depend for our food – is under threat from climate change. There is no doubt that systems worldwide will have to adapt, but while consumers may barely notice in developed countries, millions of people in developing countries face a very real and direct threat to their food security and livelihoods.

Even without climate change, many agricultural systems in developing countries are nearing crisis point. Feeding a rapidly rising global population is taking a heavy toll on farmlands, rangelands, fisheries and forests. Water is becoming scarce in many regions. Climate change could be the additional stress that pushes systems over the edge.

We know that climate change will mean higher average temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and rising sea levels. There will be more, and more intense, extreme events such as droughts, floods and hurricanes. Although there is a lot of uncertainty about the location and magnitude of these changes, there is no doubt that they pose a major threat to agricultural systems. Developing countries are particularly vulnerable because their economies are closely linked to agriculture, and a large proportion of their populations depend directly on agriculture and natural ecosystems for their livelihoods. Thus, climate change has the potential to act as a ‘risk multiplier’ in some of the poorest parts of the world, where agricultural and other natural resource-based systems are already failing to keep pace with the demands on them.

The contribution of agriculture itself to climate change is often overlooked. Current practices, including the conversion of forests and grasslands for crops and pasture, result in significant releases of greenhouse gases – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that 31% of total emissions in 2004 came from agriculture and forestry. This clearly needs to be addressed in mitigation strategies.

The climate is changing, and agricultural systems must also change if we are to avoid catastrophe. Farming, fishing and forest communities will need to adapt their livelihood systems, while mitigation efforts must address both the contribution of agriculture to the climate change problem, and the great potential of different resource management practices in reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The changes that are needed will be many and diverse. They will happen at the local level, tailored to local circumstances and ecosystems, and chosen and managed by the communities themselves. They should have immediate benefits for the communities, as well as long-term benefits that future generations will enjoy. They must be based on sound science, and enabled by effective policy at all levels. They will build on the wealth of knowledge that already exists, and the new directions that research must now take to meet this enormous challenge.

The wealth of knowledge that already exists includes the results of more than three decades of research under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The 15 research centres supported by the CGIAR, and their many partners, have been working over this period to help poor farming, fishing and forest communities achieve sustainable livelihoods in the face of variable and uncertain weather. The accumulated experience and expertise can be applied to address the additional threat posed by a changing climate.

Indeed, climate change provides a massive and urgent incentive to intensify efforts to disseminate the fruits of this research, and to continue developing adaptation and mitigation options. At least in the near years, the benefits of adopting many of the existing technologies – such as improved crop, soil and water management practices and stress-tolerant varieties – could be sufficient to override the negative impacts of climate change. And the immediate benefits, in terms of improved food security, livelihoods and environmental security, make this a ‘no regrets’ approach – these changes are worthwhile whatever happens to the climate. At the same time it is logical that learning to cope with weather variability today paves the way for adapting to climate change tomorrow.

But climate change also promises new and unprecedented challenges, and demands new and urgent efforts to meet these. We need to take rapid strides forward in understanding what is going to happen to our farming, fishery and forest systems as the climate changes; the interactions that will occur with other global changes that are also under way; and within this complex and dynamic situation, the trade-offs we may face between food security, livelihoodsand environmental security. We need to develop new and inventive responses to what is likely to be the most complex challenge that the world’s food production systems have ever faced. To do this, we need new ways of working, new non-traditional partnerships and truly integrated approaches. And we need much better communications between all stakeholders, so that decision making at all levels is based on the best knowledge available.

These needs provide the drive behind a new initiative led by the Alliance of the CGIAR Centers and the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP). The Challenge Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), which will launch in early 2010, unites the world’s best researchers in agricultural science, climate science and earth system science to address the climate change–food security problem. The transformative research programme provides a framework for these communities to work together and, by doing so, to go beyond their traditional boundaries and open up new and unique possibilities in the search for solutions.

City of Punta Gorda Adaptation Plan

Southwest Florida is one of the most vulnerable areas in the world to the consequences of climate change, especially sea level rise and increased hurricane activity and severity. Regardless of the underlying causes of climate change, global glacial melting and expansion of warming oceans are causing sea level rise, although its extent or rate cannot as yet be predicted with certainty.

The City of Punta Gorda is currently experiencing climate change. The natural setting of the City coupled with extensive infrastructure investment in the areas closest to the coast have placed the City at the forefront of geographic areas that will be among the first to suffer the negative effects of a changing climate. Severe tropical storms and hurricanes with increased wind speeds and storm surges have already severely damaged the community. Significant losses of mature mangrove forest, water quality degradation, and barrier island geomorphic changes have already occurred in the adjacent Charlotte Harbor. Longer, more severe dry season droughts coupled with shorter duration wet seasons consisting of higher volume precipitation will generate a pattern of drought and flood impacting both natural and man-made ecosystems. Even in the lowest impact future climate change scenario predictions, the future for the City will include increased climate instability; wetter wet seasons; drier dry seasons; more extreme hot and cold events; increased coastal erosion; continuous sea-level rise; shifts in fauna and flora with reductions in temperate species and expansions of tropical invasive exotics; increasing occurrence of tropical diseases in plants, wildlife and humans; destabilization of aquatic food webs including increased harmful algae blooms; increasing strains upon and costs in infrastructure; and increased uncertainty concerning variable risk assessment with uncertain actuarial futures. In the course of the project we identified 246 climate change management adaptations that could be utilized to address the various vulnerabilities identified for the City.

Currently the City of Punta Gorda is among the most progressive municipalities in the United States with regard to planning for climate change. It has already adopted comprehensive plan language to address the impacts of sea level rise, and seek strategies to combat its effects on the shoreline of the City.

This report identifies the alternative adaptations that could be undertaken to address the identified climate change vulnerabilities for the City of Punta Gorda. These adaptations are presented in the order of prioritized agreement from the public meetings. Only the highest agreement adaptation in each vulnerability area is fully developed for potential implementation. One of the utilities of this approach is that it provides a variety of adaptation options, which the City could select for implementation, adaptive management, and subsequent monitoring.

Adapting to Climate Change in Ontario: Towards the Design and Implementation of a Strategy and Action Plan

Section 1 elaborates upon the nature of climate change and the adaptation imperative in detail. Listed are examples of the impacts to be expected in various sectors of the economy, along with the most recent projections of climate developed from climate models by the Canadian Climate Change Scenarios Network. It is emphasized that both adaptation and mitigation are required to respond to climate change and that adaptation by itself will not suffice. Current limits and constraints on adaptation are briefly described. It is concluded that adaptation is so pervasive in scope, and affects the Ontario economy, society and environment in such diverse ways that a broad integrated approach is required. Examples of adaptation actions by other provinces and territories are contained within this section to describe how other governments are meeting the challenge.

Section 2 describes the strategic goals and specific recommendations from the Panel to inform both the development of a strategy and an action plan. On the basis of evidence from dialogue with ministries, authors have identified the main components of a potential strategy, as well as important ingredients for an action plan which can be quickly initiated. Well planned action is of the essence in adapting to climate change. In the process of preparing longer-term action plans, the government should take the opportunity to engage the private sector and citizens in dialogue about the challenges. The government must assume responsibility for leading the strategy and actions and it will be broadly inclusive of all the economic sectors and social communities and regions of the province – and it seems that this leadership will be forthcoming.

The overall objective for the Government of Ontario is to build a climate-resilient province which will adapt well to the impacts of climate change and its challenges.