Climate Change Matters to Planners. 

In the past year, Canada has seen a significant increase in severe storms, extreme heat, and record-breaking wildfires, among other climate-related events. These changes to our environment and weather mean that Canadians are paying ever higher health, economic, and social costs each year. Cities draw special attention because they are estimated to account for over 70% of the global emissions that contribute to global warming. In light of these challenges, the planning profession has an immensely important role to play in mitigating urban CO2 emissions and increasing the resilience and adaptability of our cities, communities, and country in the face of a rapidly changing climate.  

CIP members consistently rank climate change planning, as a top priority issue and concern, according to annual membership surveys. This feedback has been captured and focused in   our actions and objectives on our Policy on Climate Change Planning and five-year (2022-2027) Strategic Plan–1,835 Days of Impact–as we live our values by being Creatively Courageous, creating Focused Impact, and demonstrating Respectful Stewardship.  

The Essential Role of Planners in Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy 

At a national level, CIP has been heavily involved in climate adaptation action. Most significantly, in late 2022, the Government of Canada released the first version of its five-year National Adaptation Strategy. Of greatest note to planners, the Strategy specifically indicates planners as one of the professions with the ability to create the greatest change:

By 2027, 70% of the members of relevant professional associations (e.g., civil engineers, planners, landscape architects, accountants, and others) have the capacity to apply climate change adaptation tools and information and communicate the business case for adaptation measures to their clients or target audiences.”

This goal overlaps with CIP’s own strategic objective that members are aware of, using, and satisfied with the tools and resources that are shared by CIP, and, that planners are actively involved and ‘at the table’ for relevant, national-level policy and projects – ideally at the early stages, so that we can help shape them. Moreover, the National Adaptation Strategy echoes CIP’s Policy on Climate Change Planning objective that “Communities integrate mitigation, adaptation, and disaster risk reduction considerations into all regional and local planning and intentional design.”

As part of the work on developing adaptation skills, and in a concerted effort to reach the goal of 70% of planners by 2027, CIP has been working closely with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and the other professions named in the strategy, to form a collaborative working group and develop best practices. CIP has also contributed to NRCan’s Climate Adaptation Benchmarking Survey for Planners (“State of Professional Workforce Knowledge and Skills”) to understand the current state of the profession in relation to the climate adaptation competency.

Building on the 2022 launch of the Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Training Program for Professional Planners, in partnership with the Climate Risk Institute, we are also actively working to develop a national climate adaptation training program to reach and teach as many planners as possible, as we strive to hit our target. This project is ongoing and currently in the funding and development phase (stay tuned for updates).

National Impact: Supporting Canada’s Planning Ecosystem 

CIP appreciates many partnerships that advance our climate action objectives, noting the complexity inherent in developing and implementing long-term, comprehensive solutions – we can’t do it alone! We have been involved in national and international initiatives showcasing Canadian planners’ success and experience in climate change action and working on enhancing our planners’ capacity to address climate change consequences here at home.

New Tools: One of the findings of CIP’s 2019 climate change benchmarking survey was that planners were aware and concerned with climate change; however, they were also unclear about which resources were most reliable and relevant. To help address this, CIP partnered with the Climate Risk Institute and published the Adaptation Resource Pathway for Planners, providing guidance on resources that planners can use to increase their knowledge and understanding of climate change adaptation. Additional training on the resource was provided at our 2023 national conference and further training will be provided online in the fall.

Policy Leadership: Over the last year, extreme weather and environmental hazards have been catastrophic for communities and ecosystems around the globe. We are proud that CIP and our members have been proactively contributing to preparedness and response planning, including:

  • Rising sea levels: CIP members and staff were key in producing the Federal Land Use Guide for Flood Risk Areas with NRCan, released in December 2022. CIP is also represented on the National Steering Committee for Sea Level Guidance, which is developing a sea-level guidance policy for Canada. 
  • Wildfires: CIP representatives are contributing to the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers’ Canadian Dialogue on a Canadian Wildland Fire Prevention and Mitigation Strategy, which is a Canada-wide approach to building wildland fire resilience.
  • Earthquakes: CIP has been a Public Sponsor and contributor to the Global Earthquake Model Canada-National Steering Committee. In May 2023, a new CIP external representative joined the committee.

In addition to these initiatives and partnerships, CIP has constantly engaged in awareness raising and resource sharing around key moments like Earth Day. Read this blog post for more information on CIP’s journey to carbon neutrality and a list of planning resources regarding climate change.

Global Impact: The Sustainable Development Goals 

As our contribution to the international community, CIP has shared our work related to the Urban Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by participating in the 2023 Voluntary National Review (VNRs) through Employment and Social Development Canada. The results of the VNR were shared at the United Nations High-Level Political Forum in July 2023. As leaders in this space, CIP also worked with the CSA Group to create CSA SPE-116:23 Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and sustainable development goals (SDGs) guidance for associations, which was published in June 2023, for use in Canada and beyond.

In partnership with the UN-Habitat and Urban Economy Forum’s World Urban Pavilion at Regent Park, and their 100+: Canada’s Profile on Urban SDGs, CIP nominated 20 urban design projects to be included in the project in 2023. We are happy to share that seven of these projects were selected to showcase Canada’s success in contributing to the SDGs.

In support of the Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation, CIP and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) issued a joint letter of support to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to advance the Call to Action at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda (June 2022). Thanks to the efforts of many – including the Commonwealth Association of Planners – “Sustainable Urbanisation: smart and resilient sustainable cities and communities” was declared one of the actions from the meeting.

CIP looks forward to the continued work on this important action issue. We invite all members to join as we work to create a more sustainable world.