The UNFCCC defines climate change adaptation as actions taken to help communities and ecosystems cope with changing climate condition. Climate change and health adaptation planning enables communities to deal with the impacts, risks and opportunities posed by environmental changes due to changing weather patterns on human health. Health is recognized to have four components: mental, social, physical and spiritual. Developing a long term adaptation plan is the ultimate goal of a process that enables communities to be ready to successfully develop long term adaptation plans. This includes: Addressing Knowledge Gaps; Capacity Building; Tools Development; and, A Network of Champions.
Addressing Knowledge Gaps
Climate change and health adaptation knowledge gaps are a barrier to widespread and successful adaptation. Communities need to identify relevant knowledge gaps to effectively and strategically address the most relevant climate change and health adaptation knowledge. Partnerships can help to guide and fill adaptation knowledge gaps.
All stages of projects need to ensure the development of community leadership, building capacity and creating local ownership. Projects draw on the inherent strength of First Nations and Inuit communities by ensuring they design, implement, deliver, evaluate and lead their own programs. This ensures that projects are based on community needs and priorities.
Capacity building includes access to training and knowledge translation, both formal and informal, to increase skills and qualifications of community members. This ensures that community members have the ability to continue to serve their communities in continuing programming or to seek out funding to continue their efforts. Knowledge transfer from Elder and youth and youth to Elder and documentation of traditional knowledge, culture, language, practices, ceremonies, land and values is critical to ensuring intergenerational learnings is taking place. Participation in on-the-land camps offers the invaluable opportunity of re-instating traditional knowledge, re-enforcing the need for traditional ways of life in community adaptation planning.
Adaptation tool use and development allows for communities to plan and develop strategies to effectively address relevant climate and health issues. Adaptation action is taking the form of development of baseline data, recommended indicators, mapping of traditional knowledge, conducting vulnerability assessments, developing monitoring plans and creating adaptation plans. Regardless of which tools communities are currently developing all communities are making progress towards their adaptation goals.
Communities utilize a variety of communication tools to transfer knowledge and create awareness of their adaptation initiatives. Communities have engaged in activities including report writing, video production, photo documentation, publishing articles, writing book chapters, developing courses and creating policy papers. Each of these activities provides an avenue for community messages to be shared with a variety of relevant and interested stakeholders. It is also essential to utilize public engagement tools have been utilized to raise awareness at a community, regional, national and international level.
Network of Champions
Climate change and health adaptation programming ensures the development community leadership, establishing networks and supporting partnerships. Community members engage in knowledge translation by sharing information in other communities, presenting at conferences, screening their films at film festivals and participating in international events. Many community members become ambassadors for their communities and work to drive community participatory action, drive policy change and actively seek funding from new funding sources to continue pursuing and developing climate change and health adaptation work.