Climate change will impact built society and the structures we rely on to live in the Prairies. Almost half of all roads in Canada are found on the Prairies, where they are lifelines for communities both large and small. The Prairie infrastructure will be impacted by catastrophic extreme weather events, and accelerated decay in infrastructure integrity.

Critical investments are needed now and in the coming years to ensure that both built and natural infrastructure is climate resilient. This is particularly true for a region that has suffered a disproportionate share of Canada’s most costly and catastrophic climate-related disasters, and which is projected to experience more severe changes in climate than the rest of southern Canada.

The design and maintenance of built infrastructure such as bridges, railways, hospitals, and mine tailings ponds need to consider projected changes in climatic extremes. Natural infrastructure, which can provide flood- and drought-mitigation benefits benefits, will also be affected by the risk of fire, drought, pests, and diseases. Engineers, politicians, and planners are required to understand these risks to ensure that infrastructure investment decisions are climate resilient.

The partners behind ClimateWest will support the infrastructure sector by providing guidance on the use of a range of data and tools. Both the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative (PARC) and Prairie Climate Centre (PCC) have experience developing training materials that translate climate science to the fields of planning and engineering on the Prairies. The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) has unique expertise in the generation and valuation of natural infrastructure investments.