A framework supporting the Prairie region and ClimateWest

Earlier this month, the Government of Canada launched the final version of the National Adaptation Strategy (NAS) which aims to better prepare the country and to set the path for greater resilience to climate change. ClimateWest welcomed the announcement which was made in Vancouver, British Columbia and attended by The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, and the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Emergency Preparedness.

“We’re delighted that the finalized National Adaptation Strategy is putting climate adaptation actions and investment at the forefront of our climate change agenda,” states Elaine Fox, ClimateWest’s Board Chair. “This represents a significant milestone in Canada’s journey towards climate preparedness. ClimateWest is ready to support Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba communities, businesses, and other organizations in understanding what the National Adaptation Strategy means for them, and how they can better prepare for hazards such as floods, wildfires, and droughts.”

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, uses a sports metaphor in the NAS to explain the importance of adapting. “Everyone in Canada must go on the offence against climate change by reducing our emissions, but we must also play defence to be better prepared for the changes we are already experiencing, because they are here to stay.” This resonates with one of the key takeaways at the annual ClimateWest Forum held in May 2023, a gathering of more than 175 in-person and virtual guests from across the Prairie provinces and beyond. In accepting the reality that we are not returning to the climate of the past, we can move forward together.


Why is the National Adaptation Strategy important for the Prairie provinces?

The Canadian Prairies are a hotspot for climate change—not just within Canada, but across the world.  Yet taking action to prepare for our changing climate tends to be overlooked as the focus is often placed upon reducing carbon emissions and achieving net zero. Our recent report, A Snapshot of the Changing Prairie Climate prepared by Prairie Climate Centre, states that while mitigation is crucial, even if large-scale, international emission reduction efforts are made today, the Prairies are projected to continue warming.

As highlighted in the Canada in a Changing Climate: Regional Perspectives Report, six of the top 10 most costly natural disasters have occurred in the Prairie provinces since 2010. “The extreme weather that people in the Prairie provinces have experienced in the past few months alone – flooding, drought, wildfire and persistent smoky air – demonstrates just how crucial it is to have a coordinated, inclusive approach to preparing for our changed climate,” states Kerra Chomlak, ClimateWest’s Executive Director. “We all have a part to play in ensuring that Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba thrive in the face of a changing climate and the National Adaptation Strategy sets a clear framework to achieve this.”

A circular figure with three levels describing Canada’s climate adaptation cycle.

Figure 1: Canada’s Adaptation Cycle, Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy


A Whole-of-Society Approach

The NAS, which was initially released for final comment in November 2022 following a two-year engagement process, advocates for a whole-of-society approach in order to achieve the Strategy’s goals and objectives. Calling upon a shared commitment, aligned action, and an understanding of where we each fit into the solution, the Strategy outlines the roles and responsibilities of various groups. These include: federal, provincial, and territorial governments; Indigenous Peoples and governing bodies; private sector; professional associations; academic institutions; communities and individuals; and regional climate service organizations such as ClimateWest.

While the NAS emphasizes collective adaptation actions, it also recognizes that these will look different at a local level. “ClimateWest is well positioned not only to contribute towards achieving the Strategy’s objectives within the Prairies, but also to help communities, businesses, non-profits, and governments consider climate change in their decisions,” explains Chomlak. “We connect people in the Prairie provinces with regionally-relevant climate information. This allows them to make informed decisions and implement actions which make the most sense for the health and well-being of their community,” she continued.

Among the key elements of the NAS, ClimateWest welcomes the Strategy’s focus on:

  • Adaptation actions as a cost-effective and positive investment for today and for the future. Every $1 spent on adaptation measures can result in $13-$15 in total benefits (Canadian Climate Institute, 2022);
  • An inclusive approach which is advancing equity, and climate and environmental justice;
  • Supporting emergency preparedness and minimizing costs before they occur through proactive and informed decision-making.


More information


What next? If you are looking to understand what the National Adaptation Strategy means for you, the potential hazards of climate change, or how to prepare for them, reach out to our free Help Desk by calling 204-995-6514 or email us at info@climatewest.ca. You can also check out our publications page for further resources that might be relevant to you.

Confused? We strive to talk about climate adaptation in approachable, easy-to-understand language. However, if you are unsure of any of the terms or concepts used in this article, visit our Get Started page or take a look at these resources:

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