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The Power of Climate Adaptation Policy



Climate change is impacting the world in various ways. Heatwaves, droughts, forest fires, floods are increasingly affecting communities across Canada. Many districts, cities, and towns across the country are desperate for solutions to adapt to a changing climate and mitigate risks for their citizens.

The BC provincial Government recently released their draftClimate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy. But how does policy play a role in adapting to climate change? I discussed this question with Michelle Patterson, course developer forIntro to Climate Policy or Climate Adaptation Professionals at Vancouver Island University (VIU).

Enabling Factors

Why is climate policy a vital tool for professionals?

Many people think [policy is] a kind of a dry, static topic. But policies are all around us. It’s the framework for how many of the things in our lives happen. If you’re a professional working in the field, having a lens of climate adaptation policy can be a really useful addition to your toolkit.

What is the role of the policy in climate adaptation?

The best way to think about that is, policy is a way that ideas get implemented. You can have ideas, but how are they going to become action? And how are all the disparate things that need to get done going to accounted for in one space? In the course, we talk about the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, which is an extensive policy document around climate change. It has many micro-policies that relate to different aspects of the climate change space.

Policy is everywhere. Right now, the BC government is working on a new adaptation policy themselves, and they’re looking for people to contribute to that. Individuals have a role in the creation of these policies. We don’t want to be just policy takers. We want to help be policymakers because we all have a lot of knowledge to contribute.

How does policy help encourage climate action?

[Policy] allows funding to be brought into the picture to make things happen. It incentivizes actions because good policy is built through collaboration. A strong policy can enable a lot of action if it’s been well-developed. You can have climate adaptation without policy, but having a good policy will put everything in a framework for implementation. These frameworks help get us closer to the outcomes we’re all hoping for.

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If you are interested in climate policy and how you can become a policymaker and contributor, check out Michelle’supcoming course.

Michelle Patterson is the Geography Department Chair at Vancouver Island University. Before her work at VIU, she spent ten years with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada.

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