Atuliqtuq: A Collaborative Approach in Support of the Nunavut Climate Change Adaptation Plan

Created: 12/21/2010 - Updated: 3/02/2020


To increase provincial and local ability to adapt to climate change, the Government of Nunavut joined together with the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP), Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), and the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) to form a partnership to support local communities while helping to develop Nunavut’s climate change adaptation strategy. The partnership’s effort, often called Atuliqtuq (‘coming into force’), developed projects to increase understanding of how climate impacts will affect the region and develop case studies for other communities to follow.


Residents of Nunavut have observed alarming changes in their environment. Decreasing levels of permafrost and sea ice, rising sea levels, and severe coastal erosion have caused local Nunavut communities to fear for the safety and sustainability of their communities.

In 2003, the Government of Nunavut created a strategy to prepare the territory for climate change and increase the local community’s resilience and adaptive capacity.  Two key priorities of the Nunavut Climate Change Strategy called for increasing climate change knowledge and building the capacity of the territory and its local governments to take adaptation action. To help achieve these goals, the Government of Nunavut joined together with the CIP, DIAND, and NRCan to form a multiyear project, the Nunavut Climate Change Partnership. The primary objective of this partnership is to increase the capacity of Nunavut communities to begin planning and implementing effective adaptation at a local level.


The partnership’s effort is often referred to as Atuliqtuq or ‘coming into force’ in Inuktitut. Atuliqtuq perfectly describes the partnership’s goals as they worked together to bring each organization’s expertise and resources together to safeguard the local communities of Nunavut and their cultures. 

The multi-year project engages local institutions such as the Ittaq Heritage and Research Centre in Clyde River and the Nunavut Research Institute in Iqaluit to ensure that the information collected includes Inuit Quajimajatuqangit, or traditional environmental knowledge (TEK), and that the policy solutions defined by the process would be in the spirit of the culture of the area.

The Nunavut Climate Change Partnership continues to work to increase the local and regional resilience and capacity focusing on three initiatives: building capacity, increasing local scientific knowledge, and developing tools to support local adaptation action.

Building Capacity:

The partnership will develop pilot local adaptation projects in seven Nunavut communities - Clyde River, Hall Beach, Iqaluit, Arviat, Whale Cove, Cambridge Bay, and Kugluktuk - using the data collected by the partnership to act as models for future regional climate change adaptation action.

Increasing scientific knowledge:

  1. Nunavut Permafrost Monitoring Network: Permafrost monitoring sites were established in six Nunavut communities in the Baffin Region (Resolute, Igoolik, Arctic Bay, Pond Inlet, Clyde River, and Pangnirtung) to establish local baseline data, contribute to the national permafrost monitoring network, and support local climate change adaptation planning.
  2. Arctic sea level rise and coastal hazards assessment: The assessment looked at the impact local and regional sea level rise and resulting coastal hazards such as coastal erosion would have on coastal communities.
  3. Regional drinking water analysis: An analysis of a few Nunavut communities’ continued access to freshwater supplies in the face of climate change.
  4. TEK: The CIP led an effort to collect Inuit TEK, which will also be used in developing local adaptation plans.

The scientific support for the studies conducted was provided by NRCan and the sea level rise and coastal hazards assessment as well as the water analysis will serve as models for other future regional assessments in other territories and provinces.

Developing adaptation support tools:

The CIP is developing a Community Climate Change Adaptation Toolkit, which will incorporate existing scientific information, data collected by the partnership, and best practices from community adaptation action plans into a set of guidelines Nunavut communities will be able to use to produce their own adaptation plans.

Outcomes and Conclusions

The information, tools, and community case studies created by the Nunavut Climate Change Partnership will be used to develop and create the Nunavut Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. The data and case studies will also be used as models by other Nunavut communities as well as other coastal communities around the region.


Information was collected from online resources. Updated 12/21/10


Hitt, J. & Gregg, R.M. (2010). Atuliqtuq: A Collaborative Approach in Support of the Nunavut Climate Change Adaptation Plan [Case study on a project of the Canadian Institute of Planners, Government of Nunavut, Natural Resources Canada, and the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE:… (Last updated December 2010)

Project Contact(s)

Representing a membership of approximately 7000 planning professionals across Canada, the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) has been dedicated to the advancement of responsible planning since 1919.

Understanding what climate change means for Canada requires addressing potential impacts and how we, as a country, can best adapt. Adaptation is a critical response to climate change and is complementary to mitigation (which aims to reduce the rate and magnitude of climate change). Adaptation will reduce our vulnerability to climate change and allow us to take advantage of potential opportunities.

Since 1998, Natural Resources Canada’s Climate Change Impacts & Adaptation Division has funded more than 300 impacts and adaptation research projects.

Nunavut -- "our land" in the Inuktitut language - has been home to Inuit for millennia and part of Canada for more than a century. Embracing both traditional knowledge and values and the new opportunities presented by technologies like the Internet, the Government of Nunavut now provides a wide range of services tailored to the unique needs of approximately 29,500 residents.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (formerly known as Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada) supports Aboriginal people (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) and Northerners in their efforts to:

  • improve social well-being and economic prosperity;
  • develop healthier, more sustainable communities; and
  • participate more fully in Canada's political, social and economic development - to the benefit of all Canadians.