In partnership with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), CIP is pleased to share that the National State of Professional Workforce Knowledge and Skills to Action Climate Change Adaptation Survey (2023) Report is now available. The release of this report is a result of the State of Professional Workforce Knowledge and Skills survey, which was conducted by NRCan and Earnscliffe Strategy Group in Spring 2023.

To help reduce the impact of climate change and build resilience across the country, Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy calls for 70% of the members of professional associations (citing planners, engineers, landscape architects, and accountants) to have the capacity to apply climate change adaptation tools and information and communicate the business case for adaptation measures to their audiences by 2027.

The strategy identifies that professional associations are in a position to influence climate-responsive actions and that they can “…help support integration of adaptation into the professional activities of their memberships”[1]. Therefore, the State of Professional Workforce Knowledge and Skills Report serves as a critical benchmark of the current capacities and levels of understanding of planners in Canada, as we strive to reach this goal within the profession. 693 professionals participated in this survey overall, including 359 planners – the largest group of professionals represented in the analysis.

The results of this survey strongly indicate that planners understand the significance of climate change, and wish to see this reflected in their professional practices. With 65% of planners believing that the profession can have a significant impact on adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change, and 72% of planners having received professional development training on climate change adaptation, it is clear that planners wish to rise to the challenge.

However, only 37% of planners report feeling well, or very well, equipped with the required competencies to apply adaptation tools in their practice or to communicate the business case for adaptation measures to their clients. While our 2019 benchmarking survey noted that only 25% of planners felt they had access to the required information needed for climate change planning, the growth that has been made since then is not enough. This means that the planning profession is only halfway to the target of 70% put forth by the government.

Comparatively speaking, planners are less confident in their competency levels than both landscape architects (52%) and engineers (44%). With these professions playing a critical role in creating and sustaining our built, natural, and social environments, our ability to collaborate on climate change-informed community design is necessary to ensure sustainable development and climate resilience.

CIP recognizes the gravity of these survey results and re-affirms our commitment to instilling greater confidence, deepening knowledge, and creating positive change. That is why we are optimistic about the 43% of planners who feel somewhat equipped with the competencies to apply adaptation tools or to communicate the business case for doing so – we see that as an opportunity to help move the needle and inspire lasting progress.

Through our continued member and educational services, as well as our strategic partnerships, we’re connecting planners to the resources they need to effectively integrate climate change principles and we are actively seeking opportunities for planners to have a “seat at the climate table”. It is our mission to support and empower our membership of over 9,000 planning professionals, and to influence other organizations and professions to join in being part of the solution, and there remains great potential for us to achieve this goal together.

In the face of rising threats to our planet, planning for climate change adaptation and mitigation is more urgent than ever before. When planners and their peers feel capable of responding to these ongoing challenges, they can design, develop, and manage communities that are equitable, sustainable, and prosperous for all.