Crystal Schick/Yukon News Bronwyn Hancock, associate vice-president of research development at Yukon College, poses for a photo in the forest near the college’s research centre in Whitehorse on July 5. Hancock helped create a new way for the federal government to measure if it’s helping communities across Canada adapt to climate change

Yukon researcher contributes to climate change adaptation report

‘We really worked to weave consideration of different ways of knowing through the report’

A Yukon researcher helped create a new way for the federal government to measure if it’s helping communities in the Yukon and across Canada adapt to climate change.

Bronwyn Hancock, the associate vice president of research development at Yukon College, recently participated in a 22-member panel that developed indicators to assess Canadian communities’ resilience to climate change — and help them figure out how to adapt.

Released last week, the report — Measuring progress on adaptation and climate resilience: recommendations to the Government of Canada — offers 54 indicators on climate change adaptability. Those indicators provide a ruler against which to measure if Canadian communities are becoming more adapted to climate change and if federal climate adaptation funding is working.

Until now, the federal government hasn’t had a standard way to know if money it spends on helping communities adapt to climate change actually helps them. Reporting Canada’s progress on adaptation is required by Canada’s committments under the 2016 Paris Agreement.

The indicators also provide an outline communities can use to structure their climate adaptation plans, said Hancock.

The indicators focus on health, supporting northern and coastal communities, responding to natural disasters, building resilient infrastructure, using scientific and Indigenous knowledge to guide decisions, and monitoring progress on adaptation.

It’s a broad swath of topics, and creating indicators to measure them was an excercise in diplomacy, said Hancock.

“We really worked to weave consideration of different ways of knowing through the report,” she said. “For some people at the table, that’s something they’ve been doing for a long time, for some people it was really new.”

Panellists came from many backgrounds. Industry representatives, Indigenous organizations, academics, and representatives from environmental groups and youth groups were all there. Finding points of common ground relevant to towns across the country was essential, she said.

For example, the group focused on food security, particularly in coastal and northern communities. That lead them to develop an indicator measuring people’s access to country foods — which don’t rely on long-distance air or road travel that can be disrupted by climate-related disasters like landslides or storms — in these communities.

It’s a measure that can then be used by communities to build a case for on-going federal funding to support programs increasing access to country foods.

“We wanted to say, we want to give communities the right to figure out how they want to monitor, gather the data they need, and self-determine the outcome that makes sense for them,” Hancock said.

The indicators don’t force the federal government to modify or increase their funding for climate adaptation.

However, Canada needs to report its progress on climate change adaptation to the other countries who signed the Paris Agreement. Under that agreement, it must show that it’s doing something about climate change adaptation or risk international retaliation. The indicators also give a way for Canadians to push for more government support for adaptation.

The indicators are the ruler used to measure that progress (or lack of progress).

“It was interesting for us as panellists, because we needed to come up with indicators that are measurable,” said Hancock. “We didn’t want to come up with a suite of indicators we were already reaching. We want to use them to compel further action.”

Contact the Yukon News at editor@yukon-news.ca

Just Posted

Woman’s death in Ross River confirmed to be a homicide, Yukon RCMP says

Maryann Ollie, 59, died on Aug. 1. She was a citizen of Ross River Dena Council.

Jack Amos adds to Yukon medal count at Western Canada Summer Games

The territory’s athletes now have six medals — one silver and five bronze

Start of the Whitehorse school year signals traffic changes

School zones in effect starting Aug. 21

Canada Games Centre tests new software

You may want to hold off on buying those punch cards

Yukonomist: Fun facts for your next violent barbecue debate about government jobs

Have you ever been at a barbecue where someone starts talking loudly… Continue reading

Yukon disc golfers compete in Trilogy Challenge

“We definitely are seeing a lot of new people starting into the sport”

Council news, briefly

Some of the decisions made at the Aug. 5 Whitehorse city council meeting

History Hunter: New book celebrates Yukon’s most colourful hotel

If the walls could talk, what tales they would tell. But the… Continue reading

River Trail Marathon tests runners with heat and sun

“It was very hot in the second half, but the volunteers are amazing and there is water often”

Yukonomist: If climate change was a pothole, we already would have fixed it

Paved roads are good, but I fear we have gone too far

Chili and Beans Race the perfect recipe for a rainy day

“It’s good. Especially in these conditions because you know you have a warm bowl of chili waiting”

Motive will be ‘extremely difficult’ to determine in northern B.C. deaths, RCMP say

The bodies of Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky have been found

Most Read