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by Timothy M. Shah
B.A. (Hons), Trent University, 2010 A PROJECT SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS (PLANNING) in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES School of Community and Regional Planning We accept this project as conforming to the required standard ...................................................... ..................................................... .....................................................
THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA August 2012 © Timothy Shah, 2012
The planning profession has an indispensable role to play in helping communities adapt to climate change. This report describes how various professionals have recognized the salience of climate change adaptation and have prepared guidelines, suggestions, and best practices on how a jurisdiction should go about adapting to the desired condition. This study reviews the literature on climate change adaptation and in particular, relevant guidelines that have been created to assist communities through these complex processes. The author synthesizes these guidelines into a set of common fundamental objectives that are used to analyze the District of Elkford, British Columbia, the case study of this project and the first community in the province to integrate climate adaptation into its official community plan (OCP).
After reviewing publicly available documents on Elkford, and interviewing individuals involved in Elkford's adaptation planning process, the author found the following results:
Communicating about the risks associated with climate change is of utmost importance when doing adaptation planning with smaller communities. Engaging a representative and diverse group of stakeholders can assist decision-making and offer the public an avenue to voice their concerns. There are many constraints in place to do climate adaptation planning and implementation of action items. This may include rigid and inflexible design standards and bylaws that prevent a community from becoming more resilient. Reforming these standards to account for uncertainty could be a cost-effective strategy in light of a changing climate.
Evaluating the costs and benefits of adaptation options is a challenging proposition given the high uncertainties. However, simple financial analyses comparing adaptation alternatives can be done, and could be presented to the public to boost capacity for action.
The author includes a series of recommendations at the end of the report for consideration by the District of Elkford and for BC Provincial Ministries. The conclusion summarizes some major lessons learned, and highlights opportunities for further research on this topic.
Table of Contents Executive Summary ............................................................................................................................... ii Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................................... iv Section 1 | Introduction .......................................................................................................................... 1 1.1 | Study's Objective and Purpose ................................................................................................... 2 1.2 | Structure of Study....................................................................................................................... 3 Section 2 | Relevant Concepts ................................................................................................................ 3 2.1 | Climatic Uncertainty and non-stationarity ................................................................................. 4 2.2 | Adaptive Capacity ...................................................................................................................... 6 2.3 | Risk Perception and Communication ......................................................................................... 7 Section 3 | Method ............................................................................................................................... 10 3.1 | Review of the Guidelines ......................................................................................................... 11 3.2 | Institutional led adaptation planning ........................................................................................ 11 3.3 | Individual or Autonomous led adaptation planning ................................................................. 21 3.4 | The need for good objectives in climate change adaptation planning ......................................... 24 3.4.1 | Objectives pertaining to climate change adaptation .......................................................... 25 3.4.2 | Objective 1: Foster social acceptability ............................................................................. 25 3.4.3 |Objective 2: Foster good governance ................................................................................. 27 3.4.4 | Objective 3: Minimize adverse impacts of climate change ............................................... 29 3.4.5 | Objective 4: Keeping costs low when adapting................................................................. 30 3.4.6 | Objective 5: Promote and maximize potential for learning ............................................... 32 3.5 | The District of Elkford: A Case Study ......................................................................................... 34 Section 4 | Results ................................................................................................................................ 38 4.1 | Fostering social acceptability .............................................................................................. 38 4.1.2 | Risk communication .......................................................................................................... 40 4.2 | Good governance .................................................................................................................. 42 4.2.1 | Community advisory committee ....................................................................................... 43 4.3 | Minimizing adverse impacts of climate change ................................................................... 43 4.4 | Keeping costs low when adapting ........................................................................................ 45 4.5 | Promote and maximize potential for learning ...................................................................... 46 Section 5 | Discussion .......................................................................................................................... 47 5.1 | Why adapt to climate change? .............................................................................................. 48
5.2 | Building capacity .................................................................................................................. 48 5.3 | Determining adaptation needs .............................................................................................. 50 5.4 | Good governance .................................................................................................................. 51 5.5 | Community advisory committee: a robust institution ......................................................... 52 5.6 | Sustaining institutions overtime ........................................................................................... 54 5.7 | Constraints ............................................................................................................................ 55 5.8 | Overcoming constraints: turning to experimentation ........................................................... 57 5.9 |The importance of risk communication ................................................................................ 58 5.10 |Minimizing the costs of adaptation ..................................................................................... 59 Section 6 | Recommendations .............................................................................................................. 62 6.1 | Improving risk communication: The use of multi-disciplinary teams................................. 62 6.2 | The costs of adaptation are worth estimating ....................................................................... 64 6.3 | Adaptation planning is only as good as its implementation of actions................................. 64 6.4 | Work with nature, not against it ........................................................................................... 65 Section 7 | Conclusion.......................................................................................................................... 66 References ............................................................................................................................................ 69 Appendix 1: Risk Communication Model ....................................................................................... 76
I would like to thank Professor Tim McDaniels for his ongoing support in this Master's project. I was fortunate to have taken two courses with Professor McDaniels and learned from his experiences and knowledge of planning practice. The content from his courses, namely decision theory and risk management, directly influenced the ideas and content of this Master's project. Thank you again for your perspectives and insights which allowed me to think through how to approach climate change adaptation from a planning perspective. Deb Harford from SFU's Adaptation to Climate Change Team introduced me to the District of Elkford as a case study. Deb also exposed me to the climate change debate occurring in public policy circles. Thank you Deb for the opportunity to intern with your organization and teach me about the important role of communication when dealing with climate change challenges. ACT policy author, Erik Karlsen, provided professional guidance to me in my internship. He also kindly reviewed my project and offered a number of suggestions on how to improve it. Finally, Corien Speaker, who was the former Chief Administrative Officer for the District of Elkford, was generous in sharing a number of resources and contacts with me. These resources helped in the completion of the project. Corien also served as my second reader for the project and I am grateful again for her time and efforts.
Section 1 | Introduction
Climate change adaptation has become topical in public policy discussion (e.g. see Hallegatte, 2009; Shepherd et al., 2006; Foster et al., 2011; Kahn, 2010; Jones, 2012). A combination of natural disasters around the world, and the increasing importance of climate change as a research topic, has made adaptation a political, social, economic, and environmental issue. The 2011 Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa produced the Green Climate Fund - a commitment from international governments to proceed with plans to finance global adaptation efforts (Jones et al., 2012). Moreover, the Durban Adaptation Charter was signed1 which is a political commitment to strengthen local resilience to climate change.
Jurisdictions around the world at all political levels are finding ways to develop climate change adaptation plans, programs and policies to build resilience and adaptive capacity2. Adaptive capacity is a useful concept for understanding how jurisdictions are preparing to address and act on climate change adaptation. The planning profession in particular has become more interested in climate change adaptation (e.g. Wilson, 2006; Mukheibir & Ziervogel, 2007). To date, however, much of the focus on adaptation has been describing what to do rather than actually putting climate change adaptation into practice.
The planning profession has an important role to play in helping communities adapt to climate change. Various professionals have recognized the salience of climate change adaptation and have prepared guidelines, suggestions and best practices on how a jurisdiction should go about adapting to the desired condition. Given the rising importance of climate adaptation, and the preponderance of climate change research, this project is intended to investigate how these guidelines are applied in practice by using the District of Elkford, British Columbia as a case study.
A promising development from Durban was the signing of the Durban Adaptation Charter. 114 mayors and other elected local leaders representing over 950 local governments from around the world, came together in the sign this document which is a political commitment to strengthen local resilience to climate change. 2 Adaptive capacity is “the ability of a system to anticipate and adapt to the potential or experienced impacts of climate change. This differs from coping capacity which is focused on systems that are able to deal with present day weather extremes or climate variability” (Moser et al., 2008, p. 645).
Although climate change adaptation is always context and site-specific, by applying a common set of guidelines to a case study that has gone through an adaptation process, important lessons can emerge. These lessons can be useful for planners who may wish to learn about effective practices. The results will be useful for helping expand an adaptation planning tool kit for Canadian planners by providing more examples that can be transferred to communities across the country.
This report is being written for the District of Elkford. However, the report can be used by groups such as the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, planning academics who may be interested in understanding how theory informs practice, and for planning practitioners working to improve the resiliency and livability of their communities.
1.1 | Study's Objective and Purpose
The main purpose of this project is to: Compare the District of Elkford's recent climate change adaptation planning process, to guidelines and documents that have been written on how to achieve climate adaptation.
The objectives of this project are to: Present guidelines and reports that discuss aspects of decision-making around climate adaptation, and to showcase the breadth of key concepts that inform practice. Identify similarities and differences between guidelines to help construct fundamental and operational objectives for adapting to climate change based on 'better practices'. Use the District of Elkford case study to discuss how this community achieved practices/methods/suggestions prescribed by the guidelines and reports, and identify areas where they did not.
This project is timely and relevant for the District of Elkford because it will: Provide the District with a more nuanced understanding of how other adaptation guidelines relate to their plan.
Provide the District with a clear understanding of how concepts and practices from the guidelines could help them overcome present constraints based on 'better practices'. Contribute to the planning profession by outlining opportunities and challenges associated with adaptation planning issues.
1.2 | Structure of Study
The study is structured as follows: section two introduces the reader to relevant concepts in climate adaptation ranging from climate uncertainty, adaptive capacity, and risk communication. Section three offers an overview of the study's methodology including an overview of select adaptation planning guidelines and reports, and the research approach to obtain the results. Thereafter, the report discusses a set of common objectives that speak to adaptation planning. The guidelines, reports and objectives serve as the foundation to analyze the case study. The case study of Elkford is then presented, followed by the results (section four) and discussion (section five). Section six provides recommendations for the District of Elkford and the Province of British Columbia in relation to climate change planning and how to go about overcoming barriers. Section seven provides a brief conclusion including general lessons that can be drawn from the study.
Section 2 | Relevant Concepts
Relevant concepts in the adaptation planning literature are presented to provide a context for why climate change adaptation is being studied in academic circles, and how it is being understood by the professional community. Examples are used to provide the rationale for pursuing adaptation, the capacity of a jurisdiction to adapt to climatic change and the increasing recognition that climate change is a real risk to humanity, which is an emerging focus of discussion.
Fussel (2007) explains how adaptation planning has gained salience by allowing practitioners to use information about present and future climate change to review the suitability of current and planned practices, policies, and infrastructure. To Fussel (2007), adaptation planning may include questions such as "how will future climatic and non-climatic conditions differ from those
of the past? Do the expected changes matter to current decisions?" (Fussel, 2007, p. 268). Fussel summarizes adaptation planning as "making recommendations about who should do what more, less, or differently, and with what resources" (p. 268).
2.1 | Climatic Uncertainty and non-stationarity
One of the principal reasons why adaptation has gained salience is its ability to help address climatic uncertainty. de Loë et al. (2001) explain that since we are already committed to some climate change and since it is unlikely that the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will be sufficient to prevent climate change, it is better to be prepared than to leave it for future generations to live with. Adaptation, they argue, is a critical means to increase readiness and address the impacts of climate change.
Historically, climatologists have referred to climate stationarity to help understand weather patterns. Stationarity is the notion that seasonal weather and long-term climate conditions fluctuate within a fixed envelope of relative certainty (Sandford, 2011, p. 11). Sandford (2011) elaborates:
"the fact that we have determined that natural phenomena fluctuate within a fixed envelope of
relative certainty suggests that winters will only be so cold and summers so hot; that melt from winter snow packs will always contribute roughly the same amount of water to our rivers; that rivers will rise only so high in spring and fall so low in autumn; that lightning will strike only so frequently; and that tornadoes will only occur at the most extreme margins of the weather conditions we have come to expect" (p. 11).
Climate stationarity has provided a basis for insurance companies to determine risks and rates for insurance protection for individual and communities against climate crop and property damages from impacts such as floods and droughts (Sandford, 2011). With the loss of stationarity as the basis for prediction, insurance companies face uncertainty in setting rates for flood insurance and face increasing challenges in establishing design and operating standards for flood protection works. Moreover, the historic approach to deal with natural hazards has been through hard4
engineering structures such as sea walls, irrigation infrastructure, and dams. In light of climate change, hard infrastructure may be mismatched to future climate conditions, either because it was designed based on an assumption that natural systems such as rivers fluctuate within an unchanging envelope of variability or because projections of future climatic conditions turn out to be inaccurate (Jones et al., 2012). This calls for the use of “what if scenarios” and the application of policy positions such as “low regrets and no regrets” to select protection standards and practices. These climatic changes can influence planning and engineering practice to ensure that a relative amount of uncertainty is being accounted for when designing infrastructure for communities.
Lempert & Schlesinger (2000) explain that accounting for greater climatic uncertainty would strengthen predictions and climate models to become more accurate and reliable. Consider their premise:
"the traditional framework for assessing alternative climate-change policies which influences much climate change policy research and informs the thinking of many of the most sophisticated policy-makers, rests on the assumption that we can predict the future" (Lempert & Schlesinger, 2000, p. 387)
They suggest that scientists and policymakers alike are keen about translating the best predictions into policies for society, they call these “prediction-based policies” that have been largely ineffective, misleading, and unreliable in general. They argue that it is difficult to make predictions because the outcomes may be diverse and unknown. Outcomes can for example, depend on numerous factors from the costs of fossil fuels, the health of the economy, the progress of new technologies to the efficiency with which government programs are put into place (Lempert & Schlesinger, 2000).
2.2 | Adaptive Capacity
Adaptive capacity -- how communities are able to anticipate and adapt to a potential impact of climate change -- is a fundamental consideration for climate adaptation. Moser et al. (2008), describe this as the "ability of a system to anticipate and adapt to the potential or experienced impacts of climate change. This differs from coping capacity which is focused on systems that have taken steps to deal with stationarity based determinations of weather extremes or climate variability” (p. 645).
Climate Decisions (2008) explains that the term is important to address when thinking about community vulnerability. Moreover, they discuss how one of the ways to assess adaptive capacity is to analyze how hazards are currently dealt with. They pose questions such as: what are the barriers and obstacles the community has encountered when trying to prevent or address hazards, or deal with important changes? What resources were used in previous attempts to deal with these? Are there resources that would have been useful but were instead missing? (Climate Decisions, 2008).
In Table 1, Moser et al. (2008) provide seven steps for assessing the adequacy of components that comprise adaptive capacity. This multi-faceted process is not limited to simply selecting an adaptation option based on economics. As this project will illustrate in Section V, a decisionmaking process cannot be successful if critical information is missing about the context, public perceptions, and the overall ability of a jurisdiction to adapt to climate change. And, adaptive capacity offers an integrated approach to the planning process by thinking about the ‘who’, ‘what’ and ‘where’ of the confronted problem.
Table 1. Adaptive Capacity Steps (Moser et al., 2008)
2.3 | Risk Perception and Communication
Climate change is a highly uncertain process, and adaptation to its adverse effects is even more complex and uncertain. Adaptation planning shares many common features with risk management but involves unprecedented methodological challenges because of the uncertainty and complexity of the hazard (Fussel ,2007). As such, risk perception and risk communication have relevance and value and can be instructive for planning practice.
Risk perception can vary across scales which can ultimately influence action. Slovic (1992) and Wynne (1992) have explored risk perception in detail.3 Slovic (1992) explains how rather than responding to some ‘true’ level of risk that is inherent in changing climate, this literature posits that the lay public creates perceptions of risk that are based on different criteria and thus may differ from those of the experts. These perceptions are still rational and based on two factors, each of which is made up of a combination of characteristics (Slovic, 1992).
Paul Slovic is founder and President of Decision Research. He studies human judgment, decision making, and risk analysis. His research on risk perception can be found here: http://decisionresearch.org/people/slovic/. Brian Wynne is Professor of Science and is widely regarded as a prominent scholar in risk research: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/sociology/profiles/Brian-Wynne/
Wynne (1992) demonstrates that conflict between experts and the lay public may result from competition or a clash between their respective cultures. Wynne shows that because scientists have been socialized to evaluate phenomena empirically and claim objectivity, they are not receptive to the contributions of local ‘experts’ who may lack traditional academic credentials. Local lay people, in turn, view scientists as agents of those in power, and do not trust their methods. As a result, conflicts arise that appear to be about knowledge, when the catalyst for the conflict is actually threatened identities (Wynne, 1992).
Burch & Robinson (2007) have explored the intersection of climate change and risk perception. They explain that a high perception of the risks associated with global climate change, for instance, might provide the foundation of interest in climate change adaptation or mitigation and knowledge of the benefits of adaptation or mitigation that is needed to effect behaviour change. Similarly, a community that perceives a high level of risk might also utilize the social forces that encourage and reinforce adaptive or mitigative behaviour.
Risk communication is a relevant concept when thinking about how to frame the problem, and engage a populace who may be ill-informed, disengaged, or skeptical about it. Fischhoff & Kadvany (2011) summarize the essence of recent research in their book on risk. Pidgeon & Fischhoff (2011) contend that a good risk communication process should clearly convey risks and benefits, elucidate value issues, acknowledge the limits to expert knowledge, reach the relevant publics, and subject itself to empirical evaluation. A sound risk communication process would involve multiple stakeholders to understand diverse perspectives that can inform and refine the problem. In the context of climate change adaptation, residents of vulnerable coastal communities, for example, require clear, compelling evidence that the risks of living there outweigh the benefits.
Pidgeon & Fischhoff (2011) explain that risk communication is critical especially for issues of high uncertainty such as climate change. Communications worthy of climate change will require sustained contributions from cross-disciplinary teams, working within an institutional framework that provides support for their efforts (Pidgeon & Fischhoff, 2011). These teams can be composed of subject-matter scientists (e.g. climatologists) who have more knowledge about the
risks of climate impacts such as flooding; decision scientists who identify the relevant aspects of the science and summarize it concisely including uncertainties and controversies; social and communication scientists who can assess the public's beliefs and values, propose evidence-based designs for communication content and processes; and programme designers who orchestrate the process, ensure messages have been heard and are delivered to policymakers (Pidgeon & Fischhoff, 2011).
They contend that a scientific approach to communicating science requires the "systematic feedback provided by empirical evaluation, moreover, each communication failure makes future success less likely, by eroding both the public’s trust in the experts, who seem not to know their needs, and the experts’ trust in the public, which seems unable to understand the issues" (Pidgeon & Fischhoff, 2011, p. 39).
Gregory et al. (2006) explore whether "more" or "better" science will have the intended effect of improving the quality of decisions about environmental risks. They argue that in environmental risk management, there is often an overreliance on science as a means of making tough choices. Their article is more relevant to risk assessment and less focused on risk communication. However, the bedrock of analysis is similar. Gregory et al. explain that science informs, it does not, and cannot fundamentally decide.
Questions about risks such as climate change impacts, require "integration of facts and values, value-based procedures of evaluation and assessment that are and will continue to be confounded by deep uncertainty, and that require risk managers to make (and subsequently defend) tough tradeoffs across multiple dimensions (Gregory et al., 2006, p. 732). This position has relevance to Pidgeon & Fischhoff's approach to risk communication in that science must be complemented by other dimensions and information to make more informed decisions.
Renn (2004) explains that in decision-making and governance processes, there are four systems which include the market, the social, the expert, and the political. Climate change adaptation intersects with each of these systems in some capacity. Renn discusses how in a market system, decisions are usually based on cost-benefit analysis (CBA) to find the most efficient solution. In
politics, decisions are made on the basis of institutionalized procedures of decision-making and norm control to seek legitimacy. Science or the 'expert' system has methodological procedures to test knowledge claims and can produce insights useful to policy makers. Finally, the social system (where risk communication most aptly applies), is based on a communicative exchange of interests and arguments which helps the actors to come to a jointly agreed-upon solution; this helps foster cohesion and social acceptance (Renn, 2004, p. 294).
Renn's four systems are useful in thinking about the critical balance that is needed in decisionmaking. In particular, the social system may be useful for climate change decisions to foster greater understanding of risks and consequences of inaction. The next section provides an overview of the methodology of this project.
Section 3 | Method
The methodological approach in this project began with a review of the academic literature on professional sources on decision-making and climate change adaption concepts. This review is written for public policy, urban planning, and decision-making audiences. The next section provides a review of normative and prescriptive guidelines about how jurisdictions can go about adapting to climate change. These guidelines inform a multiple objectives framework for a balanced and potentially effective community-based planning approach.
The District of Elkford was selected as the case study because it was the first jurisdiction in British Columbia to successfully integrate climate change adaptation into its Official Community Plan (OCP). A key informant semi-structured interview was completed with the Chief Administrative Officer from the District of Elkford. This interview helped generate data about Elkford's experience with its climate adaptation planning process. The data provided context into the process; who was involved, challenges experienced, and emerging constraints to climate adaptation for the District. The data from this interview led the author to review publicly available documents from the District including their OCP and a report written by the consultants who aided in this process. The combination of public documents and the interview transcript provided the foundational knowledge needed to understand the Elkford experience.
To further enrich the information, the author conducted three additional interviews. One academic involved in the planning process who delivered a presentation on the potential impacts of flooding and stormwater and related low impact management techniques, was interviewed to grasp a more technical understanding of adaptation and the constraints in place. A member of the consulting team (Zumundo Consulting) was interviewed to gather a sense of their role and observations of the process. An environmental consultant who had expertise in the implementation of sustainability best practices at the municipal level, and who was specifically tasked with coordinating community outreach was interviewed. A total of four interviews were completed.
3.1 | Review of the Guidelines
This section presents showcase examples of academic papers and professional reports and guidelines for aspects of decision-making around climate adaptation. Some of these are detailed in terms of how to approach climate change challenges, overcome barriers, and deliver results. The review of this material has been categorized into two sections: 1) institutional led adaptation planning and 2) individual led adaptation planning.
3.2 | Institutional led adaptation planning
Institutional led adaptation planning for urban and rural communities is typically a function of municipal or regional governments, and is led by their planning and engineering staffs. Below are a few examples of guidelines and methods that utilize and or prescribe this approach.
Stéphane Hallegatte's 'Strategies to adapt to an uncertain climate change'
Stéphane Hallegatte's 2009 article in the journal Global Environmental Change offers a set of strategies that decision-makers could use to adapt to climate change. This article was selected because it is comprehensive in scope and speaks largely to the institutional led adaptation planning paradigm. Amid the ongoing discussion of whether governments should build more resilient infrastructure to minimize the impacts of climate change or whether demand side
management techniques should be utilized, there is a great deal of uncertainty in the range of changing climate conditions.
In terms of infrastructure, such uncertainty makes the design more difficult and construction more expensive (Hallegatte, 2009). The uncertainty around climate change conditions and modeling refers to non-stationarity (defined in the introduction), which implies greater variability and more extreme events in weather patterns. Hallegatte suggests that given this uncertainty, we should consider a range of adaptation strategies (referred to as uncertainty management methods in his article). These strategies are diverse in terms of costs and resources along with their ease of implementation as political or special interests may help or hinder the process. Hallegatte’s strategies that can help cope with uncertainty: 1) Selecting “no-regret” strategies that yield benefits even in absence of climate change. 2) Favouring reversible and flexible options. 3) Buying “safety margins” in new investments. 4) Promoting soft adaptation strategies including long-term prospective. 5) Seeking synergies between adaptation and mitigation.
No-regrets strategies No-regret strategies are able to cope with climate uncertainty. These strategies yield benefits even in absence of climate change. An example in the water sector is water leakage detection and loss control. Controlling leakages in water pipes is almost always considered a good investment from a cost-benefit point of view, even in absence of climate change (Hallegatte, 2009). This is the case because repairing leakages not only minimize the amount of water that is lost, but reduces the aggregate amount of energy used to treat, pump and distribute water around the system.
Favouring reversible and flexible options
Land use policies that aim at limiting urbanization and development in certain flood-prone areas would reduce disaster losses in the present climate, and climate change may only make this approach more desirable. In coastal cities, building sea walls would be economically justified by storm surge risks with the current sea level, and sea level rise will only make these walls more socially beneficial. Hallegatte explains how a reversible strategy is meant to keep as low as possible the cost of being wrong about future climate change. An example of a reversible strategy is “restrictive urban planning”. Hallegatte writes:
“When deciding whether to allow the urbanization of an area potentially at risk of flooding if climate change increases river runoff, the decision-maker must be aware of the fact that one answer is reversible while the other is not. Refusing to urbanize, has a well-known short-term cost, but if new information shows in the future that the area is safe, urbanization can be allowed virtually overnight. Allowing urbanization now, yields short-term benefits, but if the area is found dangerous in the future, the choice will be between retreat and protection. But retreat is very difficult politically, especially if urbanization has been explicitly allowed” (p. 244)
Hallegatte's strategy on favouring reversible and flexible options is limited. Restrictive urban planning is akin to stringent zoning regulations that limit certain types of land uses and infrastructure to avoid catastrophic damage. Keeney & McDaniels (2001) offer a more systematic approach to this issue of irreversible consequences. They explain how it would be useful to create a comprehensive list of potential irreversible consequences (that could be subsequently agreed upon by relevant institutions) to clarify thinking about such consequences; this would include the "consequence, a current assessment of chance of occurrence, judgments about when and if it might occur under various global change scenarios, and its importance if it does occur" (Keeney & McDaniels, 2001, p. 999).
Buying safety margins in new investments Safety margin strategies can reduce vulnerability at null or low costs. One example is from Copenhagen where water managers are calibrating drainage infrastructure. These managers are using run-off figures that are 70 percent larger than their current level. Some of this increase is
meant to deal with population growth and the rest is to cope with climate change, which may lead to an increase in heavy precipitation over Denmark (Hallegatte, 2009).
Promoting soft adaptation strategies including long-term prospective Soft adaptation strategies refer to institutional and financial tools. These may include planning processes or multi-stakeholder groups that meet periodically to discuss, deliberate and generate ideas and information about how to adapt to climate change. Hallegatte discusses how technical solutions are not the only way of adapting to changing climates.
For instance, the institutionalization of a long-term planning horizon may help anticipate problems and implement adequate responses; in the framework of the California Water Plan, all water suppliers that provide water to more than 3000 customers in California have to carry out, every 5 years, a 25-year prospective of their activity, including the anticipation of future water demand, future water supply sources and worst case scenarios. This is useful because it forces planners to think long term and forces collaboration with other professionals (e.g. climatologists, economists).
Hallegatte contends that institutional solutions have an important role to play in coastal zone management: while managing coastal floods did not require regular updates in a world with an almost constant sea level, climate change and sea level rise will make it necessary to analyze coastal flood risks on a regular basis and to implement upgrades when required. The creation of specific institutions to carry out these analyses may be an efficient adaptation option (Hallegatte, 2009). Keeney & McDaniels (2001) support a similar strategy. Their article presents a framework to guide thinking and analysis regarding climate change policies. They explain that developing institutions to facilitate the implementation of climate change policies could be effective.
A minor difference between the authors rests on the time frame of action. Hallegatte contends that institutions that are charged with scenario planning activities are focused on long-term thinking to help influence planning actions. Keeney & McDaniels (2001) argue that fundamental objectives (for guiding decision on climate change) calls for viewing near-term climate change
policies as initial steps, or experiments, within a long sequence of repeated decisions (Keeney & McDaniels, 2001).
Seeking synergies between adaptation and mitigation
The final strategy is finding synergies between adaptation and mitigation. Adaptation options such as ameliorating costal infrastructure such as sea walls to protect against storm surges may be compelling, but they may have negative consequences for the tourism industry because they change the landscape or alter conditions for ecosystem health such as fish stocks (Hallegatte, 2009). Another example relates to water desalination:
"In the design of adaptation strategies, future energy costs have to be taken into account: if there is a high carbon price in 2030, desalination plants using fossil fuels may become excessively expensive to run. Considering the huge investment cost of these plants, this possibility has to be accounted for in the decision-making process. Moreover, there is an unfortunate correlation between energy costs and climate change impacts. If climate change and its impacts appear to be worse than expected in 50 years, stricter mitigation strategies are likely to be introduced, making energy costs and carbon price rise. Highly energy consuming adaptation options, therefore, seem to be particularly non-robust to unexpected climate evolutions" (Hallegatte, 2009, p. 246).
Hallegatte’s argument is more geared toward places that are deciding between adaptation options for their water supply be it wastewater reclamation, demand control and reuse. Energy costs should be factored into the decision-maker process when considering options like desalination because while it may be an attractive option today, carbon prices can increase drastically thereby rendering it a potentially useless option.
Other authors such as Fussel (2007) argue that mitigation and adaptation are complementary rather than mutually exclusive alternatives because their characteristic time-scales and the actors concerned are largely distinct. "These two response options can sometimes be mutually reinforcing (e.g. planting trees to provide additional shade in warming regions) but they can also
work against each other (e.g. increasing air-conditioning powered by fossil fuels to cope with rising temperatures)" (Fussel, 2007, p. 266).4
Robust Decision-Making Under Scenario-Building Exercises
This area of scholarship explores the value of using scenario-building exercises. This method is discussed briefly in Hallegatte's paper as one strategy (soft strategy) to help communities adapt. The idea was first introduced by Lempert & Schlesinger (2000). These authors explained how prediction-based policy analysis attempts to preserve the idea of an optimum policy in the face of multiple, plausible scenarios by estimating the likelihood of each alternative future. Yet, society contains a multitude of actors, each with their own expectations about the future (multiple actors and multiple perspectives ultimately make it difficult to assume an optimum policy). Thus no optimum policy is likely to support the consensus needed for political action. Many different stakeholders are affected by climate change (Lempert & Schlesinger, 2000).
The authors explain how scenario planning may be the most powerful technique available to governments. Rather than find the optimum strategy based on predictions, researchers using modern computer technology can now systematically and analytically evaluate alternative policies against a wide range of plausible scenarios and, thereby, directly address the real task that faces climate-change decision-makers (Lempert & Schlesinger, 2000). This approach stresses the importance of multiple views in transmitting and receiving information about risk to decision makers and stakeholders which allows for more flexibility and is more adaptive oriented (Lempert & Schlesinger, 2000).
The authors conclude that climate change ought to be viewed more as a contingency problem than an optimization problem. “Either society will have to make very large reductions in GHGs over the course of the next century, or it will not. Since society does not yet know which future will happen, it needs to prepare for both” (Lempert & Schlesinger, 2000, p. 395).
A Master's Project in the School of Community and Regional Planning explored adaptation-mitigation conflicts in municipal planning in Vancouver. The author illustrated the paradoxes between adaptation and mitigation objectives and how pursuing one, over the other, can have negative adverse consequences on the human population (Procter, 2011).
Recent work in scenario planning has focused on the need for robust decision-making. This approach, pioneered by the RAND Corporation in California, takes scenario planning a step further. Groves & Lempert (2007) explain how previous scenario exercises have had difficulty summarizing all the relevant uncertainty with a small number of scenarios that prove meaningful and acceptable to diverse policy audiences. Further, there is widespread agreement that this traditional optimum expected utility approach, at least in its most basic form, is insufficient to address decision challenges with the characteristics of climate change (Groves & Lempert, 2007). Current scenario practice also leaves unresolved the best means to incorporate probabilistic information with scenarios (Groves & Lempert, 2007). Their approach, called "robust decision-making scenario-identification", offers a systematic, quantitative method for identifying a small number of scenarios that summarize a multiplicity of plausible futures important to the decisions facing the users. Explained further:
"RDM provides a quantitative decision-analytic approach to decision making under conditions of deep uncertainty that attempts to address some of these problems and, in so doing, may also provide a rigorous, quantitative approach for choosing a small number of representative scenarios and incorporating probabilistic information with these scenarios" (p. 76).
The authors explain that the users may have widely differing 'expectations' and 'values'. However, as long as they face common decisions they may nonetheless agree on the relevance of the scenarios. RDM is an iterative process that begins with decision options and then runs the expected utility technique many times in order to identify potential vulnerabilities of these candidate strategies. Candidate strategies are a summary of model formulations and input parameters where the strategy performs relatively poorly compared to the alternatives (Groves & Lempert, 2007).
Their approach is similar to the traditional scenario planning approach in that is seeks scenarios most important to the decision facing the scenario users while "acknowledging the deep uncertainty they face" (Groves & Lempert, 2007, p. 84). However, it differs by offering more nuanced metrics of scenario quality that can engage the mental models of decision makers because they directly address a question that individuals with very different worldviews and
policy preferences may all find compelling. They ask: what are the most important vulnerabilities of the strategy under consideration? Key outcomes of an RDM analysis include:
Structures analysis of decision options against many scenarios. Characterizes future uncertainty by focusing on vulnerabilities of strategies to scenarios. Reveals key tradeoffs among response packages for deliberation. Can be focused at different scales.
Source: Groves et al. (2011)
In summary, scenarios are not predictions of the future. Scenarios describe alternative plausible yet very different future conditions; robust management strategies perform well under many plausible scenarios (Groves et al., 2011).
Lastly, a publication titled "Adapting Urban Water Systems to Climate change: a handbook for decision makers at the local level" was published in 2011 by Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI). While the publication is focused on urban water systems, it offers a set of universal guidelines for communities wishing to adapt to climate change. Without going into detail about the specific impacts of climate change on urban water systems, this section will outline what the author deems important for adaptation and how it can be achieved. The key step in their handbook is strategic planning, and how it can ultimately guide an adaptation planning process.
The ICLEI guidebook defines strategic planning as a structured framework for the development and implementation of a long-term strategy for integrated urban water management. The authors explain that the strategic planning model below follows a logical sequence of phases but in reality, the order of tasks can vary. As such, the phases would be re-visited regularly. The model has some facets of adaptive management, a concept developed by C.S. Holling in the 1970s (see Holling, 1978).
Figure 1. Strategic Planning as Conceived by ICLEI (Loftus, 2011)
A number of organizations and scholars have used Holling's adaptive management framework or variations of it in the context of climate adaptation (e.g. UN Habitat, Shepherd et al., 2006). This section will only review ICLEI's framework. Below is a summary of each step in their model:
Baseline assessment, including assessment of adaptive capacity: This initial step is premised on the city conducting an analysis of information to gain up-to-date knowledge about factors affecting the system. The adaptive capacity assessment allows the jurisdiction to take stock of the characteristics of the system that will determine to an extent how it responds to hazards such as floods.
Visioning, objectives, targets and indicators: The vision and objective help provide an overall direction for the strategic planning process. Indicators are tools to help measure or visualize progress towards the objectives. Targets are aspired indicator values expressed in specific figures.
Completion of vulnerability assessment, scenario building and strategy development: The vulnerability assessment is meant to balance sensitivity with adaptive capacity. To do this, the authors call for scenario building as a way to minimize and overcome risk associated with uncertainty. This involves the decision-makers identifying factors that they think will likely have the most impact and an estimation of how these impacts will evolve overtime. A strategy can offer clarity to the jurisdiction regarding how the various actions can be achieved under a range of scenarios.
Action planning and implementation: An action plan involves all of the ways that match the selected strategy and are designed to achieve the objectives and targets within a defined time and budget frame. Once this has been established, it should be implemented.
Monitoring and evaluation: This final step measures indicator values against the targets that have been set. The evaluation of these monitoring results enables the analysis and communication of the outcomes of the planning process.5 Along with this strategic planning process, ICLEI calls for a coordination unit such as the London Climate Change Partnership6, to become arenas and sounding boards for multistakeholder involvement. Stakeholder involvement is also an indispensable part of their formula for how climate change adaptation ought to happen. And finally, they emphasize the need for communicating climate change adaptation.
The authors argue that any successful adaptation planning process must communicate openly with the public. If the reasoning behind climate impacts or actions is not explained or does not resonate with stakeholders, these will likely be opposed. The handbook cites the Centre for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) eight principles of climate change communication: knowing one's audience, getting its attention, translating scientific data into
Shepherd et al. (2006) offer some practical lessons for how the monitoring and evaluation phase could be carried out by decision-makers. 6 The London Climate Change Partnership (LCCP) was created to help London better understand and prepare for climate impacts today and in the future – good or bad. One of their chief aims is to help stakeholders in London to be aware of the impacts of climate change on them, and to help them develop appropriate adaptations taking into account climate change as one of the long-term factors which is built in to their decision making and practices (London Climate Change Partnership, 2012).
concrete experiences, not overusing emotional appeals, addressing uncertainties, taking advantage of the audience's group affiliations, encouraging group participation, and fostering environmentally-positive behaviour (Loftus, 2011).
The handbook accentuates the need for the first principles - knowing one's audience in terms of assessing stakeholders' level of knowledge of, and opinions about climate change adaptation. A survey on the perception of climate change among the stakeholders can be useful.
In summary, Hallegatte (2009), Groves & Lempert (2007), and (Loftus, 2011) all support scenario planning approaches to climate change adaptation but they differ in details. Taken together they provide a comprehensive, robust set of approaches for institutionally led climate adaptation plans.
3.3 | Individual or Autonomous led adaptation planning
This section offers an account of guidelines and principles that argue for more responsibility on behalf of the individual when it comes to adaptation. This approach falls more on market-based instruments such as pricing, to help people adapt. Adaptation efforts may be more "efficient" and effective if individuals, and not states, are offered enough choices and incentives to adapt to an uncertain climate change.
In light of the problems raised pertaining to prediction based policy analysis, and the inherent uncertainties involved, both Fankhauser et al. (1999) and Lempert & Schlesinger (2000) discuss why it is critical to use technological and market incentives to mobilize people on the adaptation front. For example, there should be a proper mix of carrots in the form of technological incentives and sticks such as carbon taxes that ought to make up an adaptive decision strategy.
Kahn (2010) in his book titled Climatopolis argues that people respond to incentives as they pursue their life goals:
“Individuals have every incentive to recognize when they are in an unfamiliar situation. In this case, they will invest in better information that helps to reduce the uncertainty. As our climate 21
scientists learn more and more about the challenges we face, this information provides us with an early warning system, signaling us about what lies ahead; this information helps us to cope with change” (Kahn, 2010, p. 11).
Fankhauser et al. (1999) call this autonomous adaptation. For autonomous adaptation to be effective, and to avoid maladaptation, certain preconditions have to be met. Individuals have to have the right incentives, resources, knowledge, and skills to adapt efficiently. They highlight information dissemination in particular, to explain how individuals can make pro-active changes -- with the right information -- to alter their behaviour. Implicit in this discussion is that pricing and information combined, can lead to behaviour change or the implementation of adaptation actions.
A good example of this is water pricing or an inclining block rate structure more specifically. If households were to start paying for their water based on how many units they consumed, or started paying a higher price per unit as consumption increased, then this would reflect the marginal price of water and would likely send a signal to the household about how much that water is worth (Bithas, 2008). By seeing the true price of residential water, households may respond by purchasing water saving technology or cutting down on outdoor water consumption to save money. Both behavioural reactions can be beneficial for both the household and the water system; those who continue with their traditional practices and do not adjust will pay more.
Another body of knowledge that relates to adaptation planning, with more of focus on the individual is using risk-based insurance. Matthew Kahn has written about this:
“As climate change introduces more risk into our day to day life, risk-averse households will seek out more insurance, giving the insurance industry a strong incentive to provide policies whose premiums differ by location. For-profit insurers’ policy pricing will send valuable signals about the relative risk of living in various areas. Insurance will be more costly to purchase in more risky areas, pushing economic activity away from areas at risk from floods and fires to safer areas, and will reward homeowners and commercial building owners for taking proactive steps that minimize the probability of disaster when floods and fires do take place” (Kahn, 2010, p. 206)
Kahn argues that to adapt to climate change, we have to allow the insurance companies to "gouge us". High insurance prices in 'at-risk areas' (such as coastal properties) provide the right signal to households and firms to locate somewhere else. This signal helps to reduce the costs of climate change when sea level rise and flooding do take place in such zones (Kahn, 2010). Similar to other authors (Sandford, 2011; Zetland, 2011; Lempert & Schlesinger, 2000) Kahn discusses how the insurance industry, like climate scientists, must move beyond stationarity when making predictions about the future.
Kahn concludes by arguing that if governments prevent insurance companies from charging actuarially fair prices (i.e. those that reflect the underlying probabilities that accompany climate change) we will see these insurance firms refusing to issue policies in certain geographical areas. The government will then face a stark choice: if it sells insurance (presumably at a subsidized price), it must recognize that an unintended consequence of this is to encourage more households to live in risky places. If and when the inevitable climate shocks occur, the government will have "blood on its hands" (Kahn, 2010).
The essence of individual led adaptation is premised on choices, incentives, and preferences. If people have the right information, incentives and knowledge about the many advantages of adapting their home or community, then actions will likely be pursued. There are many underlying assumptions here, for example, that people are equipped with the tools to adapt if given the resources to. However, this approach fundamentally differs from the institution-led adaptation planning paradigm in that individuals and not states are deemed the responsible actors to minimize any adverse consequences of climate change on their lives and communities.
In summary, Fankhauser et al. (1999), Lempert & Schlesinger, and Kahn (2010) are among some of the researchers arguing for more individual responses to adaptation. Moreover, with incentives, resources and public education, individuals will have enough capacity to make choices that will protect themselves from climate change. These statements have assumptions built into them and act as one approach to respond to the climate change challenge. The authors cited above will be revisited in the subsequent sections.
3.4 | The need for good objectives in climate change adaptation planning
This section synthesizes the key ideas presented above into a set of common objectives for adaptation planning that could be used to help communities adapt to climate change. First, the rationale of using objectives is explained, followed by five fundamental objectives.
McDaniels (2000) explains that achieving objectives (either getting more of what is desired or avoiding what is not) is the chief motivation for making any decision. Furthermore, objectives serve as the basis for what matters and what deserves attention. His paper focuses on objectives for ecological risk management (ERM) and discusses how objectives for ERM should reflect what matters to society. This logic can be extended to climate change adaptation research as the process is embedded with uncertainty and is perceived differently by actors in society. By forming a comprehensive list of objectives, the decision-maker can better satisfy multiple parties, interests, opinions, and values. Objectives should reflect “what matters” to those whose views should be considered in the adaptation process, however, there may be conflicting viewpoints; “what matters is different for different people” (McDaniels, 2000). In the context of climate change adaptation: clear, well defined and structured objectives can provide a decision context of interest and bring all of the facts and information to the table. Moreover, adaptation is a public policy issue and the purpose of policy analysis is to “illuminate the complexity of public policy issues, to help achieve objectives that reflect important public values, and provide a basis for defending and communicating decisions in public” (Badami, 2004, p. 1864).
For example, if a municipal planning agency were deciding on whether to increase the height of a levee in an area vulnerable to flooding, a straightforward approach would be to consider existing and potential development and courses of action. In this base case, the costs and benefits of raising the level of the levee and relocating existing development would be determined. However, these questions are not answerable exclusively to costs and benefits but require a diverse scheme of clear objectives to help the municipality figure out what is the smartest decision, such as how to foster a high level of safety while maximizing opportunity for economic
development. These more elaborate questions and their restatement in the form of objectives may be conflicting and hence present trade-offs, which would add further complexity. This is what Groves and Lempert argue in their robust decision-making approach.
The long-term thinking of objectives should influence and help define objectives for the more specific decisions (McDaniels, 2000) such as what other cost-effective measures could we implement now to alleviate long-term risks? In a structured decision-making process, to form these objectives, step two would ask “what are the objectives that matter for this decision, from the view of relevant affected parties?” (Hammond et al., 2002). This would require a list of fundamental objectives and differentiating between ends and means. Here is an example to illustrate this:
In climate change adaptation research, municipalities may wish to find an adaptation strategy that secures water for current and future generations. Thus, they may decide to pursue a demand management option such as water metering to send a signal to households to conserve water. The fundamental objective may be to lower water consumption in the residential water sector. The means to achieve this objective (known as the operational objective) could be using pricing (such as water meters) to induce conservation and thus provide more water for future generations. 3.4.1 | Objectives pertaining to climate change adaptation
This section offers five fundamental objectives that are tailored to climate adaptation and can also have applicability on a range of environmental and climate change topics. The fundamental objectives are complemented by the operational objectives, which are the means.
3.4.2 | Objective 1: Foster social acceptability
This fundamental objective is premised on the need to articulate how and why adaptation is relevant in the community and how taking action will benefit residents. The following questions lead to framing such an objective. Why is climate change adaptation an issue that people ought to care about given other problems in society? How will adapting bring benefits to society at large? Answering these questions helps to ensure the establishment of an objective that reflects
that those who are most, or may potentially be affected by a climate impact, and those who are less vulnerable, both experience the benefits adaptation decisions.
Examples of questions and points leading to socially meaningful objectives for fostering acceptability: Are climate change impacts significant to other societal developments? (an insight offered by Shepherd et al., 2006). Communicating the significance of climate change and risks (e.g. do projections show increased evapotranspiration, higher runoff etc?) and how it is relevant in the local context? Building partnerships through establishing sound communication between relevant groups in society. Identify how various groups can receive benefits of adapting, and articulate how this will require their participation and contribution. Show data in an accessible way to residents about the current impacts, projected impacts and what they mean in terms of climate impacts on their communities (for example, scenario building exercises).
Despite the differences between institution and individual led adaptation, there appear to be some common themes concerning the value of communication to mobilize action. Work by Hallegatte (2009), Lempert & Schlesinger (2000), and Groves & Lempert (2007) offer an account of scenario building and the institutionalization of the long-term planning horizon to achieve goals. None of these authors explicitly state how such exercises may help achieve social acceptability of adaptation, but nonetheless, they offer discussion about the value of generating information to help make decision-making easier.
The ICLEI handbook is explicit in arguing for better communication in adaptation planning to achieve buy-in from the public. This, they argue, can help people understand the potential impacts of climate change on their communities. Fankhauser et al. (1999) and Kahn (2010) both call for information dissemination to provide people with enough knowledge to make decisions about adapting.
3.4.3 |Objective 2: Foster good governance
Good governance is intimately linked to the objective of social acceptability. It is defined differently by different people. However, in this project, it is a process of decision-making that promotes transparency, participation (public involvement) and accountability. Transparency is the availability of information to the general public about government rules, regulations and decisions; accountability is holding decision-makers completely responsible for their actions (Allan & Rieu-Clark, 2010). Participation is the opportunity for all groups in society irrespective of class, income, ethnicity, religion or other associations to participate in the decision-making process.
Operational objectives to fostering good governance in the context of climate adaptation include: Coordinate with local groups working on climate issues (e.g. NGOs, not for profits). Coordinate with local land use planning objectives (an insight offered by McDaniels et al., 2006). Develop a citizens' advisory group composed of multiple stakeholders that can act as a liaison between City Council and the public. Ensure decisions are adequately consulted before implementation. Ensure continuous involvement of stakeholders from start to finish. Ensure decisions are transparent and made accessible publicly.
Scholars such as Renn (2004) suggest that the means to achieve good governance can occur through deliberation. Deliberation implies equality among the participants, the need to justify and argue for all types of truth claims and an orientation toward mutual understanding and learning (Renn, 2004). Each stakeholder group has a separate reservoir of knowledge claims, values and interpretative frames and such groups may be incompatible with one another. Renn (2004) contends that deliberation, therefore, can decrease the pressure of conflict, providing a platform for making and challenging claims, and assist policy makers. What is perhaps missing from above is the process of trade-offs and how this can help in the decision-making process (Keeney, 1992). Further, McDaniels et al. (1999) explain that given
representative governments and the complexity of the issues involved, there are reasons to assert that one should never allow public involvement processes to actually set policy. This role, they challenge, should be reserved for elected officials who are empowered by institutions to make public choices. Thus, they argue that the objective of public involvement should be to provide insight that will foster widely supported policy choices reflecting public values, and to build lasting support for those choices (McDaniels et al., 1999). This aspect is known as decisionaiding for public policy (Gregory et al., 2001), and not dispute resolution techniques as offered by Renn (2004).
One critical dimension here is the importance of multi-stakeholder involvement as part of good governance. There has been extensive and wide-ranging research on this topic. For instance, in a case study of planning tourism in Guimaras, Philippines, the authors found that promoting meaningful stakeholder involvement would encourage better perspectives on the decision and allow the main actors to adapt a more supportive role (McDaniels & Trousdale, 1999). In the Canadian context, the City of Guelph, Ontario is an example offering a model of good governance in water conservation planning7.
Fussel (2007), offers a discussion of key concepts and paths that embody good adaptation planning and good governance. Fussel explains how a number of participants are critical to the success of adaptation policy assessments with the objective of effectively reducing vulnerability to climate change. Among them, he lists scientists (who provide key knowledge about why policy may need to change); practitioners (so recommendations can actually be implemented); decision-makers and other stakeholders (to frame the assessment process by specifying policy priorities and criteria; and analysts (to assess costs and benefits of alternatives using criteria specified by stakeholders (Fussel, 2007). Fussel concludes with a number of lessons including:
In the development of their water conservation plan, the City Council created a Public Advisory Committee (PAC). The water conservation targets that came from the master plan were the result of committee consultation and feedback from the public. This group is a diverse body of people from industry, academia, plumbing, the public and the chamber of commerce. With the PAC, Guelph has been effective with fostering insightful discussion and creating an on-going public feedback loop as alternatives are discussed in the committee before reaching the public (W. Galliher, personal communication, September 29, 2011).
"adaptation planning requires close collaboration of climate and impact scientists, sectoral practitioners, decision-makers and other stakeholders and policy analysts (Fussel, 2007, p. 273).
The ICLEI handbook is the only guideline that speaks best to good governance. Calling for a robust strategic planning process, the handbook encourages multi-stakeholder opportunities, and an internal coordinating unit to retrieve information from the public, and turn those ideas into actions.
3.4.4 | Objective 3: Minimize adverse impacts of climate change
While this objective may seem obvious, it is not as explicit as it could be. Indeed, one of the chief motivations for adaptation to climate change is to avoid the adverse impacts. These impacts, whether floods, earthquakes, landslides or storm surges, can pose severe damages to infrastructure, peoples' homes and other assets worth billions of dollars. Adapting infrastructure or landscapes to make them more resilient and less prone to damage is a critical policy direction being pushed in Canada and abroad (e.g. see McBean, 2009).
Operational objectives to avoiding the adverse impacts of climate change include: Minimize health and safety consequences (Keeney & McDaniels, 2001). Reduce social disruption (Keeney & McDaniels, 2001). Maximize access to resources in the event of an impact. Minimize environmental consequences to species other than humans (Keeney & McDaniels, 2001). Identify potential irreversible consequences (Keeney & McDaniels, 2001).
Avoiding adverse impacts of climate change is implicitly embedded in the guidelines. Hallegatte is most explicit on this objective through advocating for the identification and minimization of irreversible consequences. The vulnerability assessments embedded in the robust decisionmaking approach and in strategic planning are examples of how adverse consequences can be minimize and/or avoided.
3.4.5 | Objective 4: Keeping costs low when adapting
Climate adaptation can be an expensive undertaking. Constructing hard infrastructure such as sea walls, dykes, and cooling facilities, for instance, can cost billions. If not constructing new infrastructure, current infrastructure may need to be upgraded to account for greater uncertainty. One relevant question is should we even be designing infrastructure that accounts for greater uncertainty. Recall that in Copenhagen, water managers are calibrating drainage infrastructure to use run-off figures that are 70 percent larger than their current level. Some of this increase is meant to deal with population growth and the rest is to cope with climate change, which may lead to an increase in heavy precipitation over Denmark (Hallegatte, 2009). Structural solutions need not be the only mechanism to adapt to climate change. There may be other cost-effective opportunities available for a jurisdiction when thinking about adaptation.8
Operational objectives to keep costs low when adapting: Identify opportunities for green infrastructure9 (e.g. green roofs, urban forestry). Identify synergistic options that lead to adaptation and mitigation (e.g. urban trees absorb and store carbon and can provide shade that reduces man-made cooling needs and hence electricity demand) (Foster et al., 2011). Pursue no-regret strategies that are cost effective and will help communities irrespective of climate change. If possible, use zoning approaches to identify risky areas and restrict development on them10.
A recent paper by Jones et al. (2012) discusses how an overwhelming focus of adaptation strategies to reduce climate change-related hazards has been on hard-engineering solutions (e.g. sea walls). They argue for ecosystembased approaches that are flexible and cost-effective to buffer the impacts of climate change. 9 Green infrastructure is more often related to environmental or sustainability goals that cities are trying to achieve through a mix of natural approaches. Examples of green infrastructure include green, blue and white roofs; hard and soft permeable surfaces; green alleys and streets; urban forestry, green open spaces such as parks and wetlands; and adapting buildings to better cope with floods and coastal storm surges (Foster et al., 2011). 10 A study in Saskatchewan in 2008 showed that using zoning approaches to address climate change impacts can be more cost-effective than conventional grey infrastructure methods. This climate and economic modeling study compared zoning methods to hard infrastructure approaches in their ability to avoid cost impacts from climate change-induced flooding over the next 25 years. Building more flood infrastructure was found to save an estimated $10 million in avoided flood damages, while rezoning alone would save $155 million, over 15 times more (Foster et al., 2011)
Any adaptation planning process must be cognizant of the financial and economic limitations of choice. The scale, complexity of design, construction, operation and maintenance of major adaptation infrastructure present costs far in excess of capital spending constraints, particularly of local governments, which work within tolerance levels of property taxes and service charges as forms of revenue available to them. Senior governments, with broader income sources will be called on to provide grants or to construct projects on their own, and doing so will stress their budgets. Thus, when going through an adaptation decision process, there should be special attention to financial planning and cost effectiveness, while at the same time taking mitigation synergies into account.
No-regret strategies show how jurisdictions can pursue adaptation while minimizing costs. Hallegatte (2009) and de Loë et al., (2001) contend that these strategies should be of utmost consideration when thinking about adaptation options. Badami (2004) explains how strategies that represent “win-win” conditions for all that can be developed will enhance the chances of long-term policy success (Badami, 2004).
Lessons from the Netherlands are instructive for how jurisdictions can pursue green infrastructure to manage natural hazards such as floods. A paper by Silva et al. (2004) lists several strategies ranging from improving flood management, to using incentives and managing the watershed. Examples include: Increase wetland and riverside forest habitat within the widened river zone. Where possible, replace non-native hillside annual vegetation with native perennials to improve rainwater absorption and reduce hillside erosion. Restore to a meaningful extent the historic capacity of rivers and their floodplains to better accommodate floodwaters by setting back levees to widen the floodway of the river channel.
Another example may be a city that is pushing for the widespread construction of green roofs arguing that they could both moderate building temperatures and thus use less energy in addition
to assisting with stormwater management and thereby address flooding. This could be a synergistic effect yielding benefits for both adaptation and mitigation in climate change terms 11.
Other scholars have recognized no-regrets as an important criteria or means objective for selecting adaptation options, particularly as an economic savings objective. For example, Smith et al. (1996) suggest that measures should be selected that generate other benefits to the economy or environment -- and which are justifiable under current conditions. For the near term, options implemented will likely be of the “no-regrets” variety (de Loë et al., 2001).
In short, assessing the costs and benefits of adaptation is perhaps one of the most critical parts of the decision process; it forces adaptation planners and practitioners to identify the most appropriate interventions for reducing vulnerability, enhancing adaptive capacity and building resilience (UNFCCC, 2011).
3.4.6 | Objective 5: Promote and maximize potential for learning
Including learning as an explicit objective enables participating stakeholders, institutions, and decision makers to recast difficult policy choices in a way that increases opportunities for successful deliberation (McDaniels & Gregory, 2004). More importantly, including learning as a fundamental objective can enhance the creation of new, more attractive policy alternatives (McDaniels & Gregory, 2004). If learning is taken seriously, it can re-shape the approach that is being taken to address adaptation to climate change.
In January of 2010, Toronto became the first city in North America to require the installation of green roofs on new commercial, institutional, and multifamily residential developments across the city. Toronto’s requirements are embodied in a municipal bylaw that includes standards for when a green roof is required and what elements are required in the design. Toronto’s green roof requirements had already resulted in more than 1.2 million square feet of new green space planned on commercial, institutional, and multifamily residential developments in the city. Benefits of this bylaw will include a reduction of more than 435,000 cubic feet of stormwater (enough to fill about 50 Olympic-size swimming pools) each year; and annual energy savings of over 1.5 million kWh for building owners (Benfield, 2012).
Achieving this objective could involve: Ensuring continuous involvement of stakeholders in the process. Drawing on multiple forms of knowledge such as traditional knowledge, western scientific knowledge, for example, to continuously build on information to help guide a complex or ambiguous adaptation decision. Being iterative and learning through experience, allowing for flexibility and making adjustments to ensure knowledge is being incorporated to in decision making - in other words employing performance planning, monitoring, reporting and management practices. Does the framework incorporate lessons learned from past decisions? (An insight by Shepherd et al., 2006).
McDaniels et al. (1999) in their study of local water management decisions in the Alouette River, included a fundamental objective called “promote flexibility, learning and adaptive management” regarding impacts of water flows on the ecology of South Alouette River and Alouette Lake. In short, the rationale of this objective was to help illustrate how learning over time could better address uncertainty. This objective is largely drawn from adaptive management which is premised on learning by doing and treating projects as experiments to gain knowledge and adapt practices (Noble, 2004).
McDaniels and Gregory’s (2004) paper on learning as an objective within a structured risk management decision process offers insights into social learning12. The authors explain that social learning has the potential to provide knowledge and experience for more effective societal risk management approaches. This value of learning “recognizes that many aspects of a decision can benefit from learning, including better characterization of the objectives, creating new alternatives (including ways to better implement existing alternatives), or an improved understanding (and new probabilities) about the consequences of, and tradeoffs among, the alternatives (McDaniels & Gregory, 2004, p. 1922).
Social learning is defined as building knowledge within groups, organizations, or societies (McDaniels & Gregory, 2004).
They conclude with stating how the inclusion of learning as an objective can reduce scientific uncertainty, institutional performance and cooperation can be increased, conflict and the push for litigation can be eased, and the defensibility of the decision process can be enhanced (McDaniels & Gregory, 2004).
This learning objective, therefore, has a lot of value if it is adopted in an adaptive management decision-making context. Reducing uncertainty about climate change impacts, drawing on multiple forms of knowledge, generating new information about what has been learned, while keeping stakeholders informed about the process can only lead to better decision-making and adaptation. The ICLEI guidebook is most explicit in promoting learning as an objective. Naturally, by prescribing a planning process with 'monitoring and evaluation' as a component, learning from the experience is implied.
3.5 | The District of Elkford: A Case Study
The District of Elkford represents a unique example of adaptation planning. The District of Elkford was selected as the case study for this professional project as the author, through a research internship, had the opportunity to interview people involved in this adaptation planning process. This presented a unique opportunity to learn first-hand about how this jurisdiction developed its adaptation planning framework.
The District, which has a population of 3,000 people, is located in the Rocky Mountains of southeastern British Columbia. It was the first municipality in British Columbia to successfully integrate climate adaptation into its Official Community Plan (OCP). Some of the objectives within the OCP bylaw included:
Progressive and Engaged Community. Vibrant, Livable Community. Healthy Living and Working Landscape. Resilient Infrastructure and Diverse Opportunities.
Source: Speaker, 2011
Figure 2. Map of District of Elkford (District of Elkford, 2012)
Elkford has experienced many climate related impacts in the past including floods, droughts, and wildfires (UNFCCC, 2011). For instance, between 1986 and 2000, there was an 8.6 percent loss of glacial cover in the Elk River drainage, and a 16 percent loss in the Columbia Basin as a whole. Smaller glaciers, declining snowpack, shifts in timing and amount of precipitation and prolonged drought will increasingly limit water supply during periods of peak demand (Gorecki et al., 2010).
Future projections around climate impacts are bleak. The District is projected to have a 2°C to 3°C warmer climate with more precipitation in the winter and spring, and less precipitation in the summer by mid-century. Elkford will have a 0 to 5 percent increase in precipitation overall but up to 20 to 25 percent more precipitation in the winter by mid-century. As temperatures increase, winter precipitation is more likely to fall as rain, rather than snow (Gorecki et al., 2010). Climate change in this community has the potential to exacerbate these risks. While the District faces a potentially large number of impacts, they decided to focus on priority areas including
wildfire, flooding/landslides, snow, water availability, ecosystem change, and pests (mountain pine beetle) (Gorecki et al., 2010).
Identifying these potential changes in climate constituted step 1 of their process. The 7-step model that Elkford followed is similar to the adaptive management framework with minor variations. Step 2 was a more detailed examination of climate change impacts such as potential wildfires, water availability and flooding, and ecosystems and species. The third step involved a risk-based assessment. The District did a foundational analysis of existing information pertaining to climate change impacts. From there, projections were used to develop risk scenarios to identify potential physical and ecological impacts of climate change (and other potential socioeconomic impacts on the community (Gorecki et al., 2010).
Before describing the risk scenarios process, it is useful to report how climate change was initially perceived by community residents. Gorecki et al. (2010) report that a majority of Elkford residents (58%) felt human activity is contributing to climate change, but a portion (34% of total) did not see humans having a significant contribution. At the same time, the majority (63%) felt that climate change affects everything they do, and that it is better to adapt to scenarios now than to wait. Participants were split almost 50/50 on whether climate change has become more of an issue for them over the past year and whether or not the District of Elkford should take the lead on climate change.
Their risk framework focused on examining vulnerability (exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity) as the precursor to evaluating risk. Subsequently, the District used the probability of occurrence of each impact over the 20-year period, which is the planning horizon of the OCP. For the District, probability is based on historic occurrence, climate trends and climate projections. After this risk framework was established, the consultants brought it to the community who had to determine which level of risk they were willing to accept. This risk assessment process involved the community, municipal staff, the mayor and the Community Advisory Committee (CAC). The CAC is a group of people representing diverse interests in the community.
Once vulnerabilities were determined, the next step was to estimate a probability for each risk. As there were time constraints, they did not finish the probability assessment. They verified (based on one example) that estimating the probability of a risk (e.g. a wildfire entering the District boundary) is a subjective process with initial estimates ranging from very low (unlikely to occur) to high (likely to occur several times).
Table 2. Adaptation Steps in the District of Elkford (Gorecki et al., 2010).
The adaptation planning process was able to synthesize four main goals. These goals included: 1. Elkford is a resilient FireSmart community. 2. Elkford prepares for and mitigates flood risk. 3. Elkford understands the status of water supply and manages the resource effectively. 4. Climate change adaptation is considered in future planning decisions.
Source: Gorecki et al., 2010
Here are some general lessons learned from the District of Elkford (UNFCCC, 2011): Modifying existing adaptation risk assessments and decision-support tools and processes is preferred over developing something completely new. Public engagement is critical and must be sustained throughout the process. There is a lot of value in placing no-regrets actions at the beginning of the discussions to enhance community resilience. Integrating adaptation into a city’s existing planning policy can be effective.
Choosing strategies that include a range of actions that complement each other to achieve a defined goal is preferred over defining separate adaptation options and choosing between actions.
Section 4 | Results
The results section is structured into the five objectives (social acceptability, good governance, reducing adverse impacts, minimizing costs, and promoting opportunities for learning) to summarize how the case study falls into these areas. The results in this section are produced from the publicly available documents on Elkford and the interviews that were completed with those involved in the process. A discussion will follow about how well and how poorly the case study did on meeting the objectives, which were created by a review of the guidelines.
4.1 | Fostering social acceptability
Social acceptability was the first objective discussed. Recall that several operational objectives were included revolving around how one goes about framing and building the support for change. Based on the interviews along with reviewing the public documents, Elkford has fostered social acceptability around climate adaptation in a few ways. The first was the method by which they introduced the topic of climate change adaptation. As reported by one of the interviewees in Elkford, not only did they not know about climate change, but they did not care about it when they first heard about it. Moreover, climate change was not important relative to other societal developments (a key insight from Shepherd et al., 2006).
The adaptation process began with a key question to the community: what changes are you seeing in your community? Three interviewees: one from the District, a consultant, and an academic involved in the process corroborated how valuable this question was. Both explained how it is much easier for skeptics and climate deniers to argue against the causes of climate change. However, asking people to point out the natural changes they were seeing in their communities (e.g. warmer/colder temperatures, reduced snowmelt, faster river flows etc) are more easily identifiable. The interviewee from the District explained that talking about the
overall causes of climate change can be an exhausting and demoralizing process; however, discussing the localized impacts of climate change on the community can be a far more productive and engaging conversation, because it makes the story relevant to people where they live.
The environmental consultant explained that they used the OCP as the basis to convene small group discussions (called coffee table meetings) around what official community planning is, and also what climate change and climate change adaptation is. The major concern at the outset was that if they go into this town, and have small group meetings and throw climate science at a community that is a 'self-proclaimed climate change science denier', they would not get very far.
The adaptation team made a conscious decision not to address the question in a coal mining community about climate change and human-caused emissions and the causal factors there, so when this question came up (e.g. how do we know we are causing this?), they responded by saying that this was not the focus of this initiative, the focus was on how changes are coming, what are we going to do about it, and how are we going to plan for it.
The role of human causation in climate change is a "big hang nail that may have long term implications to the tangible success of the work that was done in Elkford". A Zumundo Consultant explained that when you go into a community and say "let's do something about climate change adaptation", you typically do not get a lot of traction. You get traction by saying, for example, "we are already at risk from wildfires in Elkford, and the projections indicate that this is an area that could get worse in the future; it makes us do something about it now".
Social acceptability was also fostered through showing the community the impact from flooding that occurred in the past to highlight risk, and to reiterate that future projections of climate are one input and one part of the rationale about why you should do something about it. The consultant elaborated by discussing how it is easy to get traction when you are doing things that people see all the time and highlight risks or events in the community that have happened in the past.
They decided to start asking questions rather than telling people what they should think. After a few weeks of meetings with the community, there was a general consensus that changes were being seen and that they could look more closely into what the risks may be.
4.1.2 | Risk communication
Risk communication was evident in a couple of ways. First, Elkford needed information about the potential impacts of climate change on the community. The Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) had engaged the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC), a BC-based climate change modeling consultancy. PCIC provided practical information on the physical impacts of climate variability and change for the District which helped the public understand the nature of the problem. Once it became clear what the impacts were likely to be from climate change on Elkford, it was easier for the community to move forward. Stage three in Elkford’s seven stage process involved developing risk scenarios. In this stage, potential climate change impacts were translated into impact pathways; these visual pathways draw connections between the chain of impacts that may result from changes in temperature and precipitation to how it may impact the environment and the citizens of Elkford (Gorecki et al., 2010). Further, “impact pathways can also illustrate the linkages between different planning priorities such as the connection between mountain pine beetle and wildfires (p. 24).
In interviewing the academic, he emphasized the importance of good risk communication in climate change. He commented that the risk communication was good in the Elkford experience but could be improved as climate change adaptation gains more salience. He remarked that you need a spectrum of people to evaluate risk from different perspectives. A spectrum of professionals may offer a more nuanced analysis of the issue and also forges better communication between participants.
The environmental consultant explained that a key message around building social acceptability is that good science is not enough. They worked closely with PCIC on developing the science, but more could have been done. They had to develop a very deliberate communications strategy
that was based on where the community was at and the questions they would have, and not the questions they would have and choose for them. Further, the consultant explained that it does not matter how much the scientific community knows, if the scientific community does not participate in the communications of that science and does not work closely with people who have specific expertise in communications and community-based processes, it will not get in the room.
Part of the social acceptability objective was showcasing data in an accessible way. Evidently, a large part of fostering social acceptability was using a vulnerability approach at the risk assessment workshop. In this workshop, people assessed adaptive capacity and sensitivity which helped develop vulnerability scores. The end result was that some risks were scored higher than they should have been based on the priorities. The Zumundo Consultant who was involved in the vulnerability assessment explained:
There was a risk related to water, specifically water quality that impacts fish, so when you think of this happening as a risk, the probability is quite high, but the consequences are relatively low when you compare it to things like wildfires. But then we added this to a vulnerability assessment, so sensitivity was high because fish are sensitive to changes in water temperature and adaptive capacity is extremely low because how are you going to change the water quality? So what this meant was that this risk became a top priority risk that we should be addressing and it was rated high because adaptive capacity is low meaning that you can't do anything about it.
This lesson of doing it this way is a reason why I steer away from using vulnerability as a means of prioritizing risk because it is flawed to prioritize based on adaptive capacity, because you are prioritizing things that you can't do anything about. The value is in keeping with simple language which means risk language (probability and consequence of different events). The vulnerability part comes in two parts: you integrate the vulnerability assessment approach at current risks, then future risks; then adaptive capacity gets addressed when you have to do something about it, there is not a lot of value in saying adaptive capacity is low, medium, high, it's about prioritizing risks and doing something about them. With the work we do in rural communities, things like sensitivity and vulnerability are good for academia but not for working on the ground.
4.2 | Good governance
The interviewee from the District explained how integrating adaptation in the OCP has been a forward-looking achievement because it gives more credibility and legitimacy to adaptation actions. Further, a lawyer who assisted in the process remarked that climate change is just another risk that makes communities vulnerable, and if you are not looking long-term, you are not doing a good job for planning and sustainability. With such a document in place, there is a sound plan, including a set of targets to achieve, which acts as a planning guide for climate change adaptation. Elkford’s chief advantage over other municipalities is that climate change adaptation now becomes a centralized theme in all its planning decisions, an approach which can, among other things, foment a set of robust and comprehensive actions to address climate challenges. Elkford’s objective is to align actions and policies with adaptation goals. Development by-laws are being revised to develop a higher density community and reduce the operational and delivery costs of utilities. Mapping the District’s aquifer is another action cited in Elkford’s OCP and while it may not happen for several years, it has been listed as an action that can help the district adapt. The environmental consultant explained how integration with the OCP was a known quantity. It would have been far more difficult to engage the public by only using the climate change adaptation piece. Moreover, it would have been difficult to find places within existing policy to 'jam' or 'wedge' in the results of the climate change adaptation study. From her experience working in other communities, there is a propensity to wedge climate change adaptation planning in at the end as an after-thought which has not proven to work that effectively.
The Zumundo Consultant explained that because the OCP provides broad policy direction, it can additionally offer more consideration of potential climate change impacts and action in future planning and development. Having a high level policy direction that acts as the filter -- for longterm planning and development -- can assist greatly in mitigating risks around climate change. However, the one concern he and the District interviewee cited is that councils change over time,
and they may have a disinterest in proceeding with climate change adaptation goals and objectives.
4.2.1 | Community advisory committee
All of the interviewees confirmed the importance of the community advisory committee (CAC). The CAC was a committee of council that was struck to guide the OCP. Ostensibly, they would have had this committee whether the adaptation process was going on or not. According to the environmental consultant, everyone of those community advisory committee members either attended or hosted a coffee table discussion; these members included the executive director of the chamber of commerce, the chair of the early childhood education group, the president of the local girls' scouts, chair of the local snowmobiling committee, and others.
The environmental consultant explained that these stakeholders were drawn in through the OCP process and introduced to adaptation. They ultimately became the champions of the OCP and the adaptation plan. The environmental consultant who led the community outreach process exclaimed that if Elkford had done an OCP and adaptation plan without the advisory committee, it would not have been worth it.
4.3 | Minimizing adverse impacts of climate change
Recall that some of the operational objectives for minimizing adverse impacts of climate change included: Minimize health and safety consequences (Keeney & McDaniels, 2001). Reduce social disruption (Keeney & McDaniels, 2001). Maximize access to resources in the event of an impact.
As learned from the interviewees, a number of action items have been identified and prioritized. As reported by the Chief Administrative Officer, Elkford is planning to complete the flood plain mapping from the Fording Bridge to south of the Sewer Lagoons next year . The Elk River is
beginning to compromise the District's Sewer Lagoons and thus protective works are being planned around this.
These action items are diverse in scope and if implemented, they could assist in minimizing adverse impacts of climate. For instance, in the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, they identify actions including: protect key infrastructure located within or near the floodplain from flooding; maximize buffer zones; allocate flood areas along streams and river. They also plan on reducing vulnerability of new developments to wildfire through issuing fire hazard development permits and through updating subdivision and servicing bylaws13.
The key insights offered through the District official and Zumundo consultant pertained to issues of implementation of action items. Action items to minimize adverse impacts of climate change are only potent and efficacious if they are actually implemented.
The District official explained:
Although the items for action were identified and prioritized, implementation is not as straightforward as it seems. The technical standards that guide work don’t currently have a climate-change forward-thinking focus – which, in my opinion, is relatively important for implementing some of the technical adaptation focused protective works. I think that this is a more narrowly focused issue though as other elements of the adaptation plan can be implemented with less technical input – such as emergency management planning, and wildfire protection planning. This type of review of the use of guidelines may help communities become more resilient to climate change considering the technical uncertainties.
A new initiative by CBT's Communities Adapting to Climate Change will develop a model “climate resilient” Subdivision and Development Servicing (SDS) Bylaw for partnering communities in the Columbia Basin (the Basin). This model bylaw shall incorporate potential climate change impacts and adaptations, particularly with respect to stormwater management and existing best practices for the economic and environmental sustainability of new subdivisions and existing developments. The underlying goal is to minimize the long term costs associated with subdivision and development servicing by ensuring infrastructure is resilient to existing and projected climate conditions (Columbia Basin Trust, 2012). The project is only in its preliminary stages but demonstrates a step forward in thinking about how to integrate adaptation into a city's policy and regulatory framework.
The interviewee from Elkford reported that they have developed a plan for dykes. Projections indicate that climate change will impact river flows in the future and the current dyke system is not designed to manage this increase in river flows. Engineers cannot design and construct the dykes accounting for future uncertainty without engineering standards to guide them. Designing to account for higher impacts has been referred to as “over building”. In addition, local engineers have stated that funding agencies are reluctant to provide funding support to build the dykes in a way that accounts for uncertainty. Some funding agencies have argued that there is not any proven science to justify larger margins of safety and hence the incentives for engineers to improve design standards are limited.
Another constraint to minimizing impacts from climate change is the rainfall intensity-durationfrequency (IDF) curves14. Engineers use IDF curves for rainfall data specifically to design stormwater management systems. IDF curves are projected to shift due to climate change and thus the curve could be adjusted simultaneously to reflect anticipated rainfall that the District needs to manage. Adjusting the curve can lead to better design for new subdivisions, for example. Environment Canada has suggested increasing the IDF curve by 30 percent. Elkford is ready to move forward with the 30 percent standard but is unable due to constraints. Increasing the capacity on estimated increases to expected rainfall raises the risk for development; increasing the requirement for storm water piping from a 10 inch pipe to a 12 inch pipe raises the costs of development. Developers may be reluctant to bear these costs due to climate skepticism or general inertia.
4.4 | Keeping costs low when adapting
The results from this objective are also limited in scope. Elkford used a grant from the Columbia Basin Trust to pay for its adaptation planning process. However, within the main strategy document, there is little if any information on the costs of its adaptation action items.
An Intensity-Duration-Frequency curve (IDF Curve) is a graphical representation of the probability that a given average rainfall intensity will occur. Rainfall Intensity (mm/hr), Rainfall Duration (how many hours it rained at that intensity) and Rainfall Frequency (how often that rain storm repeats itself) are the parameters that make up the axes of the graph of IDF curve. An IDF curve is created with long term rainfall records collected at a rainfall monitoring station (Flow Works, 2012).
The criteria for this objective are diverse including identifying synergistic options, pursuing noregret strategies, pursuing green infrastructure, and using zoning approaches to alleviate risk of damage to infrastructure.
The Zumundo consultant was asked to comment on why costs were virtually absent in the main public document Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. He explained that this is the result of time/resource constraints associated with the project. They simply identified actions based on discussions with the Community Advisory Committee and City Staff and then provided those recommendations in the report. They did not have time/money to conduct detailed cost assessments of each option. The consultant explained that in hindsight, it would have made sense to assess adaptation options, with cost being one of many factors included in that assessment. The consultant further elaborated on how if they had a chance to do it again, he would have used a similar technique as the risk assessment process. This would be done through bringing together various stakeholders to a workshop including city staff, elected officials, the CAC, and others to show the different options and corresponding costs. While it is difficult to definitely know the costs of each adaptation option (e.g. see de Bruin et al., 2009), the interviewee said it would be useful to have a range at least by putting costs into categories (e.g. something is low cost such as less than $1,000, moderate and high). He remarked that as long as you have the right people in the room, you can get an accurate reflection of what the costs are.
The interviewee went on to explain that you should not be solely assessing items on costs, there are all of these different actions and many have different benefits to the community. There is a mixture of ways to assess the merits of actions, and costs is only one of them. It would have been useful to have some sort of assessment of the adaptation options just to allow you to prioritize them better. As cost was not included as a criterion in their assessment, this acts as a severe limitation.
4.5 | Promote and maximize potential for learning
The final objective in this section pertains to reflection and learning from the process. Some of the criteria for this objective included:
Encourage iterative learning allowing for flexibility and constant amendments to ensure knowledge is being incorporated to impact the decision. Is there a feedback and monitoring mechanism in place to evaluate decisions? Does the framework incorporate lessons learned from past decisions? (An insight by Shepherd et al., 2006).
Discussion of this topic did not emerge in the interviews. Indeed, as explained in the previous section, there were more concerns around implementation of action items as the District moves forward. However, in Elkford's seven step adaptation planning process, step 7 is implementation, monitoring and adjusting. In a final workshop that was held with District staff and the CAC, priorities were determined for implementation. Each recommendation was ranked and staff had to determine whether the recommendation was to be implemented immediately (high, 0-2 years), in the near future (Medium, 3-10) or in the more distant future (low, more than 10 years). The document reports that success can be measured by the implementation of the strategies within the allocated timeframe. The consultants recommended that the individuals responsible for each action, review the strategies on a regular basis to gauge progress on implementation (Gorecki et al., 2010).
It is hard to find further content on how the District will promote learning. The adaptation findings have been incorporated into the OCP, which is reviewed every 5 years, but there is no explicit discussion of how adaptation actions will be monitored, or how new lessons learned will be incorporated.
Section 5 | Discussion
The District of Elkford offers a comprehensive case study in terms of illustrating the nuances of adaptation planning. However, a closer examination of these details is required to extract the positive lessons learned and areas for improvement. This section presents an analysis of the case study, elaborating on the results and discussing implications of the fundamental objectives.
5.1 | Why adapt to climate change?
An influential study by Shepherd et al. (2006) raises a key insight when it comes to climate adaptation: are climate change impacts significant to other societal developments? This was a question the author was initially interested in as the District of Elkford -- a small mining town of 3,000 -- would likely have other immediate problems demanding more attention rather than the uncertainties surrounding climate change. From the interviews , it was not possible to gauge how climate change measured in terms of relative importance to other societal issues. It was clear that the grant from the CBT helped mobilize the process, but the principal justification for pursuing adaptation remains unclear. Understanding how climate change stands up against other societal issues is useful for understanding the jurisdiction's priorities and key areas of concern. As reported in the results section, by identifying the immediate impacts of climate change, the public may be more willing to engage.
5.2 | Building capacity
There have been several studies on the role of capacity in climate change adaptation and mitigation (e.g. see Burch & Robinson, 2007; Brookes et al., 2005). The general consensus around building capacity for climate change action is summarized by Burch (2010):
"public awareness of climate change, and perception of the risk influence the willingness of the public to support leadership on the issue, while social context at any given time may alter both the importance individuals attach to risk responses and their ability to act" (p. 7576).
In Elkford, on the basis of interviewee comments, it may be reasonable to say that public awareness of climate change was non-existent at the outset as reported. District officials learned about the projected impacts of climate through the impact pathways exercise, which was then explained to the community through coffee table discussions, among other communications. The use of illustrated impact pathways showing data and linkages in a visual and engaging way, is an effective approach to foster social understanding and acceptability. Groves & Lempert (2007) explain how scenario development methods (such as the ones employed by Elkford) rests on a
crucial insight, that a small number of diverse stories about an unpredictable future can help individuals and groups seriously grapple with, and better prepare for, inconvenient or unexpected futures (Groves & Lempert, 2007). Furthermore, this step fits with the Moser et al. (2008) adaptive capacity steps (Figure 1 in this paper). Step 6 of the adaptive capacity steps model attempts to “calibrate the public’s perceived understanding of the stresses and the population’s readiness to engage in implementing necessary adaptation measures” (Moser et al., 2008, p. 647). The planning process was able to effectively understand the public’s perceptions of the stresses and engaged them accordingly in the risk scenario phase.
The impact pathways exercise in Elkford appeared to be an effective means to communicate potential climate risks. Moreover, it offered a visual representation of how such risks were connected to one another. These impact pathways are analogous to influence diagrams in that they illustrate how one impact can have multiple implications. This exercise meets two of the criteria for this objective: 1) Impact pathways show data in an accessible way to residents about the current impacts, projected impacts and what they mean in terms of climate impacts on their communities. 2) This is evidence of communicating the significance of climate change and risks and grounding this in the local context.
Keeney & McDaniels (2001) explain how a series of objectives can be used for climate change decisions by governments in North America. Among these objectives, they state how it is critical to learn about science relevant to climate change, not only to have better knowledge overall, but for understanding implications of climate change on extreme events and the impacts on ecosystems (Keeney & McDaniels, 2001). This overall objective of learning relates to the Elkford experience in that the scientists translated the climate science for people to understand. Indeed, such learning is the means to provide information to help better educate the public and officials about the extent and all other aspects of the climate change problem (Keeney & McDaniels, 2001).
Once the likely climate change impacts on Elkford became clear it was easier for the community to move forward. One interviewee from the District explained how there is a lot of scientific knowledge out there but there needs to be a way of making this accessible to people. The PCIC was able to provide information that made it real for the community and this was identified as a key factor in the process’ success.
The Pidgeon & Fischhoff (2011) risk communication paper is relevant here. In light of the uncertainty of climate change, PCIC (the subject matter scientists) acted with the consultants (decision facilitators) to communicate the risks of climate impacts on the local community. As purported by Fischhoff & Pidgeon (2011), communications worthy of climate change will require sustained contributions from cross-disciplinary teams, working within an institutional framework that provides support for their efforts. This is what was witnessed in Elkford and led largely to the success of social acceptability as multiple groups communicated the risks.
5.3 | Determining adaptation needs
Figure 3 is instructive for this analysis. Part A relies on a linear cause-effect chain in which climate scenarios are the basis for estimating future climate impacts. Part B is a more complexintegrative approach looking at climate risks now and in the future. The assessment is informed by experience with managing past climatic hazards.
Figure 3. Evolution of approaches for determining adaptation needs (Fussel, 2007)
"Recommendations for adaption are determined by their potential to reduce current and future climate risks but also by their synergy with other policy objectives, for example sustainable development goals" (p. 272). These recommendations may be considered in the wide policy context of adaptation, to mainstream climate adaptation into existing management activity and development plans (Fussel, 2007). This insight is similar to McDaniels et al. (2006) in terms of coordinating adaptation planning with local land use objectives - a criteria of good governance. Elkford appeared to use variations of both Parts A and B by using models and scenarios to understand the climate risks of the present and the future, and deciding to mainstream adaptation actions and criteria through its Official Community Plan.
5.4 | Good governance
One of the criterions in the good governance objective was to coordinate with local land use planning objectives (McDaniels et al., 2006). In an adaptation planning process, one of the chief benefits of coordinating with already existing land use planning objectives is that it can make the process more legitimate and robust. As learned from the interview from the District, integrating adaptation into Elkford’s OCP has been a forward-looking achievement because it gives more credibility and legitimacy to adaptation actions.
As an OCP is a long-range planning document; it can outline immediate, medium, and long-term actions for implementation. This enhances the District’s capacity to adapt because a formal policy document, instead of politically popular ad hoc pilot programs, is sustained over time and over political cycles thereby forcing politicians to think and plan ahead. However, this is theoretical. This section illustrates how political issues may indeed act as a barrier to adaptation planning.
With such a document in place, there is a sound plan, including a set of targets to achieve, which acts as a planning guide for climate change adaptation. Elkford’s major advantage over other jurisdictions is that climate change adaptation now becomes a centralized theme in all its planning decisions. Brandes & Curran (2009) explain that one goal of improving governance is
to build flexibility and resilience into the governance structure, thus enhancing the ability to adapt and effectively address current and future challenges.
With Elkford integrating adaptation into its OCP, there is more room for flexibility to make amendments in the future in addition to developing new adaption actions. Burch (2010) explains how climate change can be addressed in part by broadening responses and linking them with related institutions and issues; one element of this broadening might consist of integrating climate policy into the daily practice and organizational culture of the municipality. Elkford achieved this in practice. Elkford’s objective is to align actions and policies with adaptation goals. Development by-laws are being revised to develop a higher density community and reduce the operational and delivery costs of utilities.15 Mapping the District’s aquifer is another action cited in Elkford’s OCP and while it may not happen for several years, it has been listed as an action that can help the District adapt. One of the District's major objectives from the start was to focus on relevance to and integration into the OCP (Gorecki et al., 2010).
5.5 | Community advisory committee: a robust institution
Elkford’s case study is a model of good governance. Transparency and accountability were strong from the outset with residents being informed about why adaptation is being pursued and how their inputs would be indispensable to the success of the process. With the formation of the Community Advisory Committee, the focus remained on community priorities. This committee helped create a sense of accountability to the local residents who were apprehensive at the start about whether climate change was even a real life phenomenon caused by humans.
In addition to being transparent and accountable, there was effective public engagement throughout the process especially through the workshop that enabled the community to come together with municipal officials, the advisory committee and the consultants, to determine what
The U.S Environmental Protection Agency wrote a report titled "Growing Toward More Efficient Water Use: Linking Development, Infrastructure, and Drinking Water Policies" available at: http://www.epa.gov/dced/pdf/growing_water_use_efficiency.pdf
level of risk was acceptable based on the climate impacts projected (Gorecki et al., 2010). Allan & Rieu-Clarke (2010) contend that public involvement or “participation” is identified as an element of good governance. Participation is ensuring the beneficiaries and interested groups are actively engaged within the decision-making process, and their views are taken into account in the final outcome (Allan & Rieu-Clarke, 2010).
While public officials in Elkford make the final decision on which adaptation actions are going to be pursued and under what time frame, it is clear that stakeholders’ perceptions and inputs were integrated into the framework.
The Elkford model of governance is supported by Ivey et al. (2004) who explain how adapting to climate change should foster linkages and partnerships among watershed-based organizations, NGOs and city officials. This can enhance local adaptive capacity by encouraging cooperation and coordination between water managers and those charged with development planning. Furthermore, understanding local water systems and users, fostering local partnerships, identifying alternative pathways for response, and establishing transparent institutional arrangements at lower and upper tier levels will be critical in translating knowledge into action in local communities (Ivey et al., 2004).
The CAC enabled linkages and partnerships among members of the public, elected officials, and a number of stakeholders. This was important not only in the vulnerability and risk assessment phase, but in identifying community adaptation priorities, which was consistent with the McDaniels et al. (1999) approach to public involvement processes. Recall that the authors contend that there are reasons to assert that one should never allow public involvement processes to actually set policy. This should be reserved for elected officials who are empowered by institutions to make public choices.
McDaniels et al. (1999) argue that the objective of public involvement should be to provide insight that will foster widely supported policy choices reflecting public values, and to build lasting support for those choices (McDaniels et al., 1999). In the Elkford example, there was one decision-making body (The District) but the public involvement processes brought insights and
new ideas to the table. The policy choices were then made reflecting the public values of the residents. While Elkford is a model of good governance, an obvious consideration here is the small size of the District with only 3,000 people made it relative – to larger communities—easier to reach a community supported approach. Other municipalities with larger and more heterogeneous populations may encounter more challenges when it comes to setting priorities and making decisions.
Citizen or community advisory committees are not new by any means. Other jurisdictions have used them for similar planning challenges. For instance, in a separate interview with a water manager from the City of Guelph, the author learned about the influential role of their Public Advisory Committee (PAC) in navigating the city's water conservation plan.
5.6 | Sustaining institutions overtime
Recall from the guidelines introduced earlier in the project that one of Hallegatte's (2009) strategies to adapt to an uncertain climate change is using the 'soft path' approach. Soft adaptation strategies refer to the use of institutional engagement and financial tools. These may include planning processes or multi-stakeholder groups that meet periodically to discuss, deliberate and generate ideas and information about how to adapt to climate change. The CAC is evidence of an institution that assisted in drafting the OCP, however, it is not clear whether a similar institution will be in place as the District implements its adaptation actions. As argued by Hallegatte, independent or non-partisan institutions may need to be set up to help a jurisdiction adapt as opposed to one political party.
Burch (2010) in her study of three British Columbia municipalities, reports a number of barriers that may inhibit action items from being implemented. For instance, term limits imposed on politicians affect Council's ability to make long-term decisions; budgetary cycles force planning based on three year terms, rather than long-term planning; excessive transparency hinders freedom of Councillors to learn about a new issue in a non-threatening environment (with the result being a quick decision or continuous deferrals); and competing priorities (such as lower taxes) inhibit commitment to climate change action (Burch, 2010).
While Elkford may not be experiencing the aforementioned barriers, the question of political terms is an important one. Despite having a progressive OCP in place, implementation of action items will depend largely on political leadership. Thus, having an independent body may help communities like Elkford make more objective decisions when confronted with planning challenges like climate change. Moreover, this falls in line with Pidgeon & Fischhoff (2011), who argue that risk communication requires sustained contributions from various actors over time to be effective. Likewise, an independent body capable of providing analysis on climate impacts, and communicating such impacts to the public is vital.
5.7 | Constraints
The lessons learned from the District of Elkford are instructive for planners and their adoption by other jurisdictions is dependent on resources, population size, and political priorities. While Elkford was effective at fostering social acceptability around climate change, in addition to demonstrating a model of good governance, the District faces two major constraints to achieving adaptive capacity. Fussel (2007) states "practical limits to adaptation are usually a result of insufficient economic resources, technical skills, or political will" (p.270). These constraints were not relevant to the Elkford experience as funding, resources and tremendous political support were all present. The constraints, however, are real and pose a number of challenges. These constraints have to do with design standards which limit the scope of implementing adaptation actions.
Elkford is waiting for the information so they can incorporate the 30 percent increase in the IDF curve offered by Environment Canada. However, figuring out how this will shift design standards is still being worked out. The interviewee indicated that all of these steps are crucial and the District will not rely on historical information; they will use data that accounts for uncertainty in the future. Hallegatte (2009) takes a similar position:
“Since climate models and observations cannot provide what current decision-making frameworks need, the only solution is to amend these frameworks to make them able to take this uncertainty into account. To do so, infrastructure should be designed acknowledging (i) that it will need to cope with a larger range of climate conditions than before; and (ii) that this range is 55
and will remain highly uncertain. In such a context, optimizing infrastructure design for a given climate may not be the best strategy” (Hallegatte, 2009, p.242).
In Hallegatte's study, he uses the example of Copenhagen to demonstrate how one can go about accounting for climate uncertainty:
"To calibrate drainage infrastructure, water managers in Copenhagen now use run-off figures that are 70 percent larger than their current level. Some of this increase is meant to deal with population growth and the rest is to cope with climate change, which may lead to an increase in heavy precipitation over Denmark. This 70 percent has not been precisely calibrated, because such calibration is made impossible by climate change uncertainty. But this increase is thought to be large enough to cope with almost any possible climate change during this century, considering the information provided by all climate models. This move is justified by the fact that, in the design phase, it is inexpensive to implement a drainage system able to cope with increased precipitation. On the other hand, modifying the system after it has been built is difficult and expensive. It is wise therefore, to be over-pessimistic in the design phase” (Hallegatte, 2009, p. 244).
As the results showed, the adaptive capacity constraints are inhibiting Elkford from modifying its IDF curves. There appears to be poor coordination between different bodies (e.g. federal government, engineers, insurance companies), which makes it challenging for the District to prepare for flooding, for instance. de Bruin et al. (2009) explain that it is critical to carefully check whether the current institutions can handle the challenges posed by climatic change and whether they are suited to implement the identified adaptation options. Moreover, improved coping capability of institutions can be achieved through the cooperation of institutions and stakeholders in new alliances (for instance through restructuring of the institutions responsible for protection against flooding) or through embedding adaptation policies systematically into existing institutions. While Elkford has embedded adaptation goals into its OCP, it still faces challenges with implementation of those objectives.
Thus, one way to move forward as suggested by de Bruin et al. (2009) would be to "improve harmonization and coordination between different policy making and executing institutions in
areas where fine tuning between the central government, the provinces, and other stakeholders is a prerequisite for successful implementation. It is important to strengthen existing initiatives and develop new alliances, as well as making a clear division and coordination of the different tasks" (p. 38).
5.8 | Overcoming constraints: turning to experimentation
Several key insights emerged from the interview with the academic who was involved in the early stages of the Elkford adaptation process. In light of the adaptive constraints mentioned above, the interviewee discussed the idea of experimentation with interventions to showcase how success can be achieved:
Why don't we give people a temporary permit? They indicate that this is something new and different, and they are granted permission to proceed under the condition that they are going to be monitored to ensure that it is working ok. The Toronto Region and Conservation Authority is doing this; they allow people to come forward with new innovation with stormwater management. If the proposal is reasonable, the TRCA tells them to proceed and offers help in the monitoring of the program. For instance, a high rise building in Toronto that collects roof water and uses it for flushing. This is of course against regulations but it gives people the benefit of the doubt; if there is a company that is willing to do it, we can help monitor, we have a new way of doing things. This is how you can overcome some of these problems. Things are changing, because land use and climate is changing, and therefore we need new ideas.
The interview went to describe how changing guidelines and codes can be difficult, but incremental changes, via experiments, may showcase success and yield support. Asset Management BC may be one organization in the province that can help local governments develop their asset management strategies which may be one approach to overcome some of the constraints around design standards.
5.9 |The importance of risk communication
One of the most salient findings in this project and overall case study is risk communication. All four interviewees offered comments on how good communication helped mobilize the entire process. Pidgeon & Fischhoff (2011) explain how the usefulness of climate science depends on how effectively the analytical results can be communicated and how relevant they are to decision-makers. The Elkford experience revealed a positive success story that began with the key question: what changes are you seeing in your community? This was complemented with information being communicated from scientists about the potential localized impacts of climate change. The academic commented on how risk communication around climate change requires several actors who can collectively speak about the various aspects of risks, especially for complex subjects like climate change. The interviewee explained that you need a spectrum of people to buy into the risk.
This finding is supported by Pidgeon & Fischhoff (2011) who explained that risk communication requires multidisciplinary teams. These teams would comprise several professionals from economists, decision scientists, climatologists, hydrologists, academics and others. Thus, municipal/district governments may wish to create their own risk communication committees, or turn to higher levels of government to obtain this service. "Although smaller, more distributed models might be envisaged, the science of communicating science has become so important that it requires equivalent institutions, properly funded and staffed" (p. 40).
Figure 4. Multi-disciplinary Expertise for effective communication of climate science (Pidgeon & Fischhoff (2011)
Critical to risk communication is confronting uncertainties. While the Elkford experience demonstrated the power of impact pathways (evidence of fostering social acceptability), it was unclear how this exercise addressed uncertainty. As reported by the academic, there were severe data limitations in this project and that itself would constitute as an uncertainty around climate impacts. Fischhoff (2011) explains that it is possible that even fully understood summaries of scientific evidence will not address decision makers’ information needs. They may also need an understanding of why experts disagree. Achieving that understanding will require communications that afford them “mental models” of the relevant climate science, showing the uncertainties that are inherent to that science. Knowing more about why scientists bicker may matter more than knowing more about their results (Socolow, 2011).
One of the consultants interviewed did explain that there was some disagreement about the severity of wildfires in the region with some identifying it as near term high risk, and some dismissing it completely.
5.10 |Minimizing the costs of adaptation
Before discussing some adaptation options, it is worth noting that the overall cost accounting of adaptation actions was not done well. One interviewee remarked that the lack of costs associated with adaptation actions was primarily the result of time/resource constraints surrounding the project. The climate change adaptation team identified actions based on discussions with the City Staff and then provided those recommendations in the report. The consultants did not have time/money to conduct detailed cost assessments of each option. The interviewee commented on how, in hindsight, it would have made sense to assess adaptation options, with cost being one of many factors included in that assessment.
While the absence of costs for adaptation options serves as a weakness in this case study, it is worth noting that some other authors have found it is generally difficult to do a cost-benefit analysis of adaptation options. In a study by de Bruin et al. (2009), an inventory of adaptation options was made for the Netherlands (e.g. design and implementation of ecological networks, water storage on farmland). They found that the costs and benefits of the adaptation options can
be estimated with reasonable accuracy for only a limited number of options; for the majority of the options, knowledge gaps exist, data are missing or their reliability is insufficient (de Bruin et al., 2009):
"This means that based on our current knowledge it is impossible to evaluate the costs and benefits of the various policy alternatives and adaptation options that we presented. If we intend to use the database on adaptation options for selection of effectiveness and determination of costs, additional research is required to improve and expand the information that it contains so far. As the costs and benefits depend on location, specific circumstances and the exact phasing of the measures, detailed studies in so-called hotspot areas are indispensable. It also requires an analysis of the administrative and policy context at the level appropriate for specific adaptation options, on a local, regional, national and international level, and/ or at the level of the ecosystems under study" (p. 37).
This insight from de Bruin et al. (2009) is critical for planners. While attempts can be made to quantify the costs and benefits of various adaptation options (e.g. green roofs versus dykes), there may be several constraints. Nonetheless, this does not negate the necessity to do an accounting of the costs of adaptation based on available data and information.
One interviewee commented on how there is a lot of value in using green infrastructure techniques to help manage natural hazard risks. Communities in British Columbia such as Delta have typically used hard infrastructure measures such as dykes to help manage risks against flooding, and sea-level rise. The interviewee explained that building new structures is not going to help you; we should be going into the watershed and figuring out how to prevent flooding by diversifying the stream, expanding wetlands where possible and designating areas for temporary storage of flood water.
Simply building the dykes higher could result in false risk perception. As found by Silva et al. (2004), dyke reinforcements bring with them increasingly more negative consequences for landscape, nature and cultural historic values. And as the difference in height between the water level in the river and the area protected by the dykes continues to increase, the flood risk also increases (Silva et al., 2004).
The academic who was interviewed for this process explained how natural hazard management requires a multi-pronged approach; including protective structures, designated areas to temporarily store the water and change land uses etc. Building new wetlands could also reduce stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces and this could alleviate risks of flooding overall. The interviewee explained that there are many cost-effective approaches to deal with natural hazards like flooding. These cost-effective or non-structural approaches may be even more critical in light of current budgetary constraints for many local governments in North America, and the exacerbation risks associated with climate change.
Table 3 is comprehensive in terms of actions. However, there is no indication of costs around any of these items. For instance, what would it cost to update road design standards, or to allocate flood areas along streams and rivers? While the costs may be marginal, at least in comparison to strict structural measures such as dykes, offering information would give the community a better idea about the true costs of adapting to climate change. This constitutes a small part of risk communication as people should be aware of a potential impact, and the costs of potentially alleviating it.
Table 3. Summary of adaptation actions cited in Elkford Adaptation Strategy (Gorecki et al., 2010)
The discussion section was intended to offer an elaboration of the findings in this study. A number of themes emerged around successes in the case study e.g. risk communication and good governance, weaknesses in terms of poor accounting around costs of adaptation options, and challenges around implementing adaptation actions. Notwithstanding the overall success of Elkford's adaptation planning process, the author has prepared a series of recommendations that could aid this community, and other jurisdictions, on how to move forward with achieving more robust adaptation.
Section 6 | Recommendations
The recommendations are intended to for three audiences: the District of Elkford; the BC Ministry of the Environment; and the BC Climate Action Secretariat. Elkford is already a leader in terms of planning for climate adaptation. However, there are some areas that it could reapproach to strengthen its adaptive capacity. The Province, a much larger organization with many departments and agencies may find these recommendations useful, particularly those entities within the provincial government or related to, such as the Pacific Institute of Climate Solutions and Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC). Indeed, as other BC local governments begin to address climate change adaptation planning, the lessons learned from the case study, and the recommendations below, may be instructive for how to approach such a complex and uncertain process.
6.1 | Improving risk communication: The use of multi-disciplinary teams
As the results from this project demonstrate, risk communication is vital for climate change adaptation planning. The Elkford experience revealed a success story that began with the key question: what changes are you seeing in your community? This was complemented with information being communicated from scientists about the potential localized impacts of climate change. However, risk communication may have only worked well in Elkford given its small population size.
In larger communities in BC and beyond, there may need to be larger and more institutionalized risk communication bodies. As purported by Fischhoff (2011), "given the stakes riding on it, climate communication should be informed by the best available climate science, including the economic, behavioral, and political drivers of climate change; the geophysical processes shaped by those drivers; and the ecological, social, political, and economic impacts that those processes might have—as well as the expected impacts of possible mitigation and adaptation strategies" (p. 702).
Fischhoff also recommends science communication centers, allowing social and decision scientists to work together with other scientists:
"Center staff would provide the services needed for effective communication: interviewing audience members to assess their information needs so that climate-related problems are analyzed in decision-relevant terms, designing communications consistent with research into how people access and process information, evaluating their impact, tracking public opinion, and interpreting it for natural scientists. Center staff would conduct basic research into recurrent communication challenges (e.g., conveying climate cycle feedback mechanisms, scientific disagreement, or effects distributed over time) and create communication prototypes, ready to adapt to specific messages. They would inform climate-science analyses that make assumptions about human behavior (e.g., responses to threats and disasters). They would anticipate decision makers’ information needs and feed them into research plans" (p. 702).
The author agrees with Fischhoff's approach and recommends that BC support the creation of an institution responsible for risk communication around climate change. Given that PCIC is already a climate service centre serving the province, it may be most effective for this group to create a multi-disciplinary risk communication team to improve adaptation planning in the province. This multi-disciplinary risk communication team can work with basin organizations, regional districts and local authorities, using regional growth strategies and official community plans to focus their efforts in implementing strategies and plans. Appendix 1 is a model illustrating how a risk communication team could be engaged by communities wishing to adapt to climate change. This risk communication model is designed to
help and guide the adaptation planning process more effectively, not least to clarify areas of disagreement and uncertainty, but to provide more transparency to the public.
6.2 | The costs of adaptation are worth estimating
Both for Elkford, and other jurisdictions, it is indispensable to include some measure of the costs of climate adaptation options. An effective way to carry this out in practice would be to compare green infrastructure options with structural options (e.g. the costs of increasing a wetland and riverside forest habitat within the widened river zone, versus the costs of adding one new dyke). Cost ranges could be included that account for context, the degree or size of the project, and the uncertainty of it. While not exact, at the very least, it offers a picture of approximate costs that could mobilize action. In addition, by tying this into asset planning, implementation and management, it can ensure that costs are considered.
The institution charged with adaptation planning (such as the District level in Elkford's case), could perform a financial analysis of implementing these two adaptation options. If both options are a means to reduce risks around flooding, they could easily be compared through costs and benefits. Once the agency determines the costs and benefits of adaptation options, this should be presented to the public. The public would be able to detect the differences on an elementary level, and could ask for additional information if needed. Most importantly, presenting the costs (even if uncertain, see de Bruin et al., 2009), can provide more information to the public and decision-makers about various options which can strengthen decisions for the community as it moves forward with adaptation planning.
6.3 | Adaptation planning is only as good as its implementation of actions
Integrating adaptation criteria is an early step, as it informs the identification, selection and implementation of adaptation options. Keeping adaptation criteria up to date and reporting on the effectiveness of adaptations actions regularly will help to address concerns about shifting priorities from council to council. It is recommended that Elkford institutionalize a system whereby adaptation planning is reviewed yearly, and not once every five years. Indeed, councils
should be required to review the adaptation actions completed over the course of the year, and present these findings to the public through open forums and social media. This is consistent with British Columbia’s local government financial planning legislation.
6.4 | Work with nature, not against it
In light of the current constraints around design standards for hard engineering structures, there may be merit in exploring the possibility of harnessing nature to help communities adapt to climate change. Silva et al. (2004) offers an excellent account of how jurisdictions can use nature as a way to protect themselves against climate risks such as floods. Silva et al. contend that nature is becoming a more effective way to manage floods, rather than simply resorting to structural solutions:
"Floods have become a reason to restore rivers rather than dam or dyke them. Many who have traditionally advocated structural solutions to flood protection are increasingly embracing the idea that rivers need to be given space to flood. Flood protection has joined clean drinking water and recreation as reasons for restoring river ecosystems" (Silva et al., 2004, p. 111).
Jones et al. (2012) provide a more contemporary analysis of this and contend that ecosystembased approaches, as opposed to hard-engineering structures, provide flexible, cost-effective and broadly applicable alternatives for buffering the impacts of climate change. They explain that if we can better understand the quantitative estimates of maximum adaptation potential from nature (including wetlands, mangrove forests etc), more informed comparisons can be made with hard infrastructural options.
Already, a number of jurisdictions are pursuing green infrastructure strategies to buffer themselves from climate risks. These strategies are cost-effective, offer synergistic benefits between mitigation and adaptation, and demonstrate commitment to sustainability. The academic interviewed in this project emphasized the importance of green infrastructure, not necessarily as the solution to climate change adaptation, but as a complimentary strategy amidst other alternatives. It is recommended that Elkford, and other jurisdictions interested in adaptation, first consider the merits of green infrastructure before rushing to conventional and costly structural solutions. The Foster et al. (2011) publication contains a number of green infrastructure
examples that could offer a number of simple insights to guide the implementation of adaptation strategies.
Section 7 | Conclusion
The principal objective of this project was to explore climate adaptation planning in practice. A number of practitioners are interested in how to adapt to climate change, and the critical steps that are needed for this process. Some planning scholars and practitioners have offered their recommendations on adaptation processes based on best practices and methods that have been used in other capacities. This project summarized, reviewed and applied their work and used the District of Elkford as a case study to create a synthesized checklist of guiding points for jurisdictions wishing to adapt to climate change, while acknowledging that adaptation is always context and site specific.
The author had the opportunity to interview people involved in the District of Elkford's adaptation planning process. Interviewees included an academic, two consultants, and the Chief Administrative Officer from the District. These interviews enriched the author's understanding of the case study's context, and furthermore, it added a nuanced perspective on the who, what, when, and how of the adaptation planning process. The combination of interviews and review of publicly available documents about what Elkford experienced enabled the author to analyze the case study drawing on the relevant concepts and guidelines that were introduced at the start of the project.
This project has limitations. For one, the author interviewed people who had a direct influence in shaping a positive adaptation process for the District. To strengthen this project, the author could have interviewed other stakeholders including dissatisfied or disengaged citizens from Elkford about their experiences with the adaptation process. This was not possible due to time constraints. Another limitation of the study was the absence of a baseline or reference group. Comparing the Elkford experience to another case study in the Columbia Basin Trust's "Communities Adapting to Climate Change Initiative" such as the City of Kimberley, would have offered a more clear and comparative analysis of what worked well in one community
relative to the other. Such an analysis is worth undertaking and could be pursued in the format of a larger research project. Indeed, more research is required to evaluate how adaptation is done in practice, and the significant barriers that are in place. Overall, the District of Elkford’s approach to climate change adaptation planning is a success story. It should be read about and carefully examined by other jurisdictions planning their climate adaptation processes. Notwithstanding the small population size of the District, it offers valuable lessons around communicating climate impacts to a skeptical and relatively uninformed populace. Funding from the CBT was indispensable in moving this project forward, combined with strong and sustained leadership from the District level. The Community Advisory Committee served as a model of good governance ensuring that multiple voices and perspectives were heard, and ideas discussed on how to be more effective.
While the case study offers several lessons for planners, there were a few areas of concern worth reiterating. One, adaptation planning requires implementation of action items. As learned from the Elkford experience, there are current capacity constraints around making the infrastructure/subdivision design standards more resilient and robust to climate change. This was cited as an issue because engineers and funding agencies are unwilling to offer funding to projects that are premised on "climatic uncertainty". This is a poor and flawed argument as the very purpose of adaptation is to allow for, and design with, uncertainty to alleviate any potential impacts from climate change, should they arise.
Two, adapting to climate change requires some level of cost accounting. This was virtually absent in the Elkford experience; one consultant explained that time/resource constrains, among other reasons, did not allow for a complete and comprehensive review of costs for adaptation options. As reported by de Bruin et al. (2009), doing a comprehensive review of adaptation options (via cost-benefit analysis) is still a difficult task. Nonetheless, as per the author's recommendation, there are relatively easy and effective ways to do accounting of adaptation options through selecting a few and creating 'ranges' around them. This at least provides the jurisdiction, and more importantly, its citizens with an idea of how options compare to each
other. Such an exercise could still be done for Elkford and could provide clarity and confidence around pursuing adaption actions that are most suitable.
Finally, the largest contribution of this project to planning practice is the importance of risk communication. Indeed, the Elkford experience demonstrates how good communication can go a long way in mobilizing a skeptical populace, and providing concrete direction about how to put adaptation planning into practice. The author discussed and elaborated on the risk communication component of this case study by drawing on the work of several scholars in the areas of risk management, decision theory, and climate change to make a case for its salience to planning process. Appendix 1 is the author's graphical contribution of risk communication to planning practice.
Elkford, and other communities wishing to adapt, could benefit from sustained funding to have access to a provincial risk communication team designed to offer real-time information and resources to decision-makers about changing climates and concomitant impacts. It is recommended that PCIC continue to invest in its expertise and draw in other professionals who can aid in the process (e.g. planners, economists, psychologists, etc). The author posits that risk communication is the indispensable piece to any successful adaptation planning process.
Climate adaptation is a planner's calling. Given the tremendous uncertainty around climate change this century, and the current level of interest by governments to act on it, this is a real opportunity to generate the best knowledge available to tackle a complex problem. This project argued that such deep uncertainty around climate change requires a diversity of objectives to help communities evolve their understanding of the system. Elkford adds a good deal of knowledge and tools to which planners can utilize in other places. Climate change is always context-specific, but the fundamentals of good planning are generalizeable. What is required is strong and sustained leadership, robust risk communication methods, good governance, an engaged populace, and a plan to that institutionalizes methods and sets direction for the future.
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Appendix 1: Risk Communication Model
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