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Project Research Components

Vulnerability Assessment of Rural Communities
Analysis of Water Conflicts and Institutions
Historical Study of Institutional Adaptation
Analysis of Environmental Vulnerabilities
Assessment of Formal Institutions
Climate Change Scenarios
Geospatial Data
Institutional Adaptations to Climate Change Project

Information for Policy Makers

This section of the website contains the key recommendations for policy of the IACC project, as well as information and resources related to the many dissemination activities directed towards policy makers that were undertaken during the course of the research project.


  1. Develop anticipatory, long-term (10–20 year) climate and water plans that build resilience to climate change:

    The IACC studies demonstrate the need to develop and strengthen a policy process aimed at building resilience to climate change impacts on rural communities. It requires a more comprehensive strategy that combines both mitigation and adaptation activities. Longterm strategies need to adopt an anticipatory approach based on knowledge and scenarioplanning rather than relying only on reactive, ad hoc, or “crisis management” approaches. Strategies also need to integrate climate policy into several policy fields, especially as they relate to water, the environment, and highly vulnerable economic activities such as agriculture.

  2. Integrate government and community adaptation activities:

    Climate interacts with many other stressors, and there is the need for an inclusive policy framework across branches and orders of government that emphasizes the link between adaptation and sustainable economic development priorities, while also specifically targeting communities which currently have weak adaptive capacities. The interrelations between climate change and economic and social vulnerabilities require an approach that is able to strengthen the general sustainability of the community, and this will involve a great deal of coordination among government agencies. We need to plan and act across traditional sectors and issues, and bring together environmental management, disaster reduction, and social and economic development measures.

  3. Use participatory planning and empower stakeholders and citizens in water management decisionmaking:

    Efforts should be made to strengthen civil society organizations that participate in the process of water governance, such as irrigation associations, watershed groups, and other stakeholders, as they are crucial to fostering and increasing adaptive capacity in both Saskatchewan and Alberta. Their participation in water governance widens the range of interest that is included in the adaptive process, helps to legitimize decisions, and enhances goal achievement. It is important to support these groups with enough operational and project funding to ensure their ability to function. No less important is to properly define their role, so they are more than simply advisory groups to government agencies, and so that they can play a central role in a large range of adaptations to water shortages and in the resolution of conflicts.

  4. Improve the dialogue between government and communities, particularly rural communities, to build local resilience and seek new opportunities:

    In the same vein, managing the risks and opportunities created by climate change requires a structure of governance that improves communication between communities and government agencies. Appropriate and locally relevant solutions to community sustainability problems require a proper understanding of local vulnerabilities. At the same time, mobilizing and coordinating external resources to alleviate local vulnerabilities requires a comprehensive knowledge of programs available within government. Both are required to develop the necessary knowledge and build the incentives required to strengthen communities.

  5. Focus efforts on improving local and regional coping capacities:

    A special joint effort between communities and government should be directed toward improving capacities on both a local and a regional level. Local training and capacity building could enhance the skills and knowledge available in the SSRB, aiding the management of risks and opportunities. Water conservation and management is one of the areas in which local knowledge and resources could be improved and supported by an institutional framework, particularly one that supports and trains individuals as to how to implement local water conservation strategies and secure water quality. Existing federal institutions such as the Agri-Environment Services Branch (AESB - formerly known as the PFRA) need to be reinforced to assist this process. Programs oriented to developing or strengthening the networking of communities could foster community organization and mobilization to reduce vulnerability. Furthermore, improving inter- community (and interprovincial) coordination around common issues, such as committees for watershed planning, could help bring communities together to resolve regional problems. All these measures would not only provide rural communities with the instruments to become more sustainable, but they would also contribute to a more effective strategy to reduce the risks of climate change.

  6. Prepare for water conflicts: resolve issues using adaptive conflict resolution methods:

    Water scarcities could easily lead to water conflicts among water users. In order for governments to truly represent the public good, they must be proactive, making sure that their responses include a highly transparent and accountable decision- making process, which will in turn enhance the legitimacy of government action in the eyes of stakeholders. This will also encourage stakeholders to be more open to accepting water management strategies in times of scarcity. In these terms we recommend that governments make use of the adaptive conflict resolution approach, which will create a dynamic among stakeholders that can often transform conflict into a learning opportunity and uncover possible institutional adaptations that may have been unthinkable prior to the conflict. Although all stakeholders can contribute to the implementation of this approach, the role of government in creating the conditions for their implementation is essential.

  7. Obtain and share more and better water data:

    There is a need to improve the processes of gathering and sharing water data within each province’s water governance network and between federal and provincial agencies. The research identified gaps in water data (e.g., the climate and hydrology of the upper part of the basin; groundwater data; water quality, quantity and usage information) required to monitor and predict future water supplies and the impact of climate change on water resources. In addition, it is essential to maximize the coordination and use of data. This need could be met by an umbrella water data portal used for effective water management and planning.

  8. Seek solutions with interdisciplinary teams using social and physical sciences approaches and coordinating with stakeholders and policymakers:

    Climate change and vulnerability are issues that cut across several domains, from philosophy to climatology, from social sciences to engineering. Therefore, comprehensive responses to climate change will need to be based on solid interdisciplinary teams that are able to collaborate with a variety of stakeholders and policy makers to develop appropriate responses to the challenges and impacts of climate change. A more intensive effort to bring together governments and universities to organize an interdisciplinary research agenda around climate change would be a great step in reducing the vulnerability of prairie people. A further step would be to incorporate industry and target research towards sustainable adaptation practices.

  9. Simplify water governance arrangements for efficient and effective adaptation decisions:

    The effectiveness of water governance is stunted by the complexity of water governance arrangements, especially the lack of interagency coordination. Water governance and climate monitoring systems suffer from duplication and a lack of coordination, creating confusion among government officials and stakeholders. It is important to reduce this inefficiency and lack of coordination between federal and provincial agencies, as well as within provincial networks, to ensure a comprehensive and systematic approach to the development of a stronger adaptive capacity. In this perspective, the initiative taken in May 2008 by the Western Canadian Premiers is a step forward in addressing the needs identified above. The formation of the Western Water Stewardship Council illustrates the need for stronger federal leadership in water and climate change issues and associated vulnerabilities in the SSRB and across Canada. The Premiers’ plans to develop a drought preparedness plan for the west and a climate change policy framework are laudable. While natural resource management is a mandate of provincial governments, this current provincial initiative demonstrates that there is clearly a need for regional approaches. The federal government could play a significant role in supporting such provincial initiatives in order to enhance regional adaptation. It would be advantageous to develop climate and water strategies that span 10 to 20 years with built-in performance measurement requirements. Such strategies should allow for flexible and incremental improvements as knowledge is improved. If implemented, this type of approach would provide unique adoption opportunities and adaptive resilience for regional and local needs.


IACC Special Session
Canadian Water Resources Association
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, June 25-28, 2007
Report: download
More information: CWRA website

Adaptation to Climate Change in the Canadian Plains Symposium
Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy (SIPP) and the IACC Project
Regina, Saskatchewan, April 22, 2008
Report: download
More information: SIPP website

Stakeholder Workshop on Water and Climate in Saskatchewan
IACC Project
Regina, Saskatchewan, November 26, 2009
Invitation: download
Agenda: download
Diaz, H. Welcome and Introductions download
Hadarits, M. and V. Wittrock Community Vulnerabilities to Climate and Water Stress download
Corkal, D. Governance and Climate Vulnerabilities download
Sauchyn, D. Future Climate Conditions in the South Saskatchewan River Basin download
Marchildon, G. Future Vulnerabilities and Recommendations download

Proposals and Participants
• Original Proposal
• Research Team
• Advisory Board
• Partners
• Policy Relevant
• Reports
• Documents
• Theses
• Books & Special Publications

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