Adaptation presents both opportunities and risks. Early planning and investment, however, may enable a community to enjoy the benefits, while managing the risks.
Actions taken by towns and cities today to enhance community resilience to climate change will greatly influence their ability to meet future sustainability goals, as well as their ability to underwrite the human and economic costs of climate-related effects. Their decisions can increase or decrease vulnerability to future climate change.
Local governments play a key role in preparing their communities to build resilience and establish the right conditions for adaptation. Governments must take climate change into account when managing their assets and programs, services and economic development. Increased investment in a community's ability to overcome natural disasters will safeguard existing economic progress, and increase the economy's climate-related resilience.
What can local governments do?
Local governments can take proactive steps to plan for adaption and manage risk by:
Enhance Opportunities for Coordination and Cooperation
Engage with government bodies at the regional, provincial and federal levels, to help define complementary and organization-specific roles in adapting to the effects of climate change.
Work across multiple sectors locally to improve communications, and to identify gaps and redundancies related to climate-change adaptation.
Build relationships with businesses and the community, in order to begin planning for a changing climate, given that most of the assets and activities at risk are not municipally owned.
Incorporate Climate Change Adaptation into Existing Systems, Policies and Programs
- Embed climate change adaptation in policy by identifying climate-change risks and ensuring appropriate assessment of their impact.
- Expand support for assessment of climate-change risks and the vulnerability of municipal operations/systems.
- Access and incorporate local climate trends and projections into planning activities (e.g., extremes in temperature and precipitation, Intensity-Duration-Frequency curves, wind, snow loading, freeze/thaw cycles).
- Prioritize key infrastructure investments that take climate uncertainty into account.
Improve Adaptive Capacity
- Increase and support the awareness, knowledge, skills and resources of planning institutions and stakeholders.
In communications and training for local decision-makers and staff, emphasize the significance of current and expected climate change, as well as best practices for adaptation.
Allocate responsibility for addressing climate-change challenges to those best placed to manage them, and promote active management of these challenges by these parties.
Manage the Socioeconomic Impact of Climate Change
- Anticipate the impact of climate change on vulnerable populations.
- Support economic resilience.
- Address improving local food-security issues.
- Upgrade emergency-response systems.