Sector level adaptation: Human communities

The front of a wooden long house with four animals (two birds and two mammals) painted in red and black on either side of the door. There is also a wooden sculpture in the center. There is a rocky road in front and a blue sky behind.

In order to build adaptive capacity at the scale of the region and sub-regions, it is important to build on existing programs and attributes. Governments and communities need to remain open to communication and collaboration in order to develop tools and resources to enable regional and sub-regional decision making for effective adaptation action. They need to adopt integrated and adaptive management practices that increase access to and distribution of resources such as allocating roles and responsibilities, distribution of relief goods and provision of relief services; developing early warning and evacuation systems; creating education and awareness programs; and making arrangements for secure shelter and food, and access to health care, education, economic and social resources [75,131–134]. In addition, through adaptive management practices, higher sectoral, institutional, and stakeholder representation can be achieved in decision-making processes [132].

The coastal community context is especially relevant within the MaPP region. Adaptive capacity building at the community level should be supported by national, regional, and sub-regional institutions and policies. Regional and sub-regional management should understand how local communities and local institutions function and are managed in order to support local adaptation actions and community resilience to major change. Remote communities may already possess attributes of resilience through their sociocultural context that may improve their adaptive capacity to climate change. A transparent knowledge- and data- based climate change adaptation process can enhance existing adaptive capacities [129,132,135–137]. Particularly, by empowering local organizations (e.g. First Nations offices), socio-economic groups that are already vulnerable can be included in decision-making processes [134,138].

Building adaptive capacity and resilience in remote communities is dependent on a variety of factors, including: 1) existing local and regional institutional capacity; 2) local socio-economic development; 3) infrastructure development and condition; and 4) local experience with extreme weather events and other environmental or socioeconomic stress [132,139]. Other factors that can contribute include social networks and cohesion, income diversification, and self-reliance [25,140]. However, current social and economic stressors are likely to reduce the capacity for remote communities to undertake or even consider climate change adaptation. Many coastal communities within the MaPP region already experience economic hardship and are limited in their capacity to undertake new initiatives or projects, even if the long-term benefits are relevant. Building on initiatives that are already in place to address environmental and economic changes and incorporating considerations of the impacts of climate change should be more effective for those communities [25].

Especially for First Nations communities, past experiences with historical social, cultural or economic changes can offer lessons for adapting to climate change. For example, in southern Vancouver Island the W̱SÁNEĆ people share a historic story involving rising sea levels and community adaptation responses which may offer insight into adaptation actions for communities in response to climate change in the present day [141]. Key attributes of social adaptive capacity such as social capital and community networks are often already evident in place-based communities and community ties. However, for effective adaptation planning, climate change impacts and adaptation needs to be seen as relevant for present-day local community planning and management [25,124].

A man in a rubber apron standing outdoors and holding a net with many Eulachon fish hanging from it. There are evergreens in the background.
Chief Don Roberts Fishing Eulachon | Photo by Kitsumkalum Nation
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