Our Theory of Change

The Climate Transitions Theory of Change at the Tamarack Institute is grounded in the insights that have emerged from our collaborations with communities across Canada.

It provides an overview of our intended impact and how we aim to enable community-led change over time. It is also grounded in a recognition of the interconnected nature of our work as part of Canada's climate transitions ecosystem and the importance of working together to drive bold partnerships and accelerate social transformation.


See below for more information:

Have questions? Email Laura Schnurr (laura@tamarackcommunity.ca)

See Our Theory of Change

Community Climate Transitions Theory of Change

Click here to download the full document in PDF format.

See Our Theory of Change

This resource is also available in French.

Click here to access the French version.



Humanity is at a crossroads. There is mounting evidence that climate change poses an existential threat to humans and other species, with the situation dubbed ‘code red for humanity’ by the United Nations Secretary-General. The impacts of the climate emergency are being felt sooner than anticipated, in Canada and around the world. Meanwhile, we are witnessing rising inequities in terms of social, economic and health outcomes, racial injustices, and a housing affordability crisis. All of these challenges, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, are complex and interconnected. They require context-specific, place-based responses that are driven by communities. They cannot be addressed by any single sector or actor alone; rather, they require a whole-of-society approach.

Community Climate Transitions is the result of exploratory conversations between Tamarack, McConnell Foundation and Employment and Social Development Canada to discuss the potential of communities in integrating a collective impact approach to enable transition pathways toward a just and equitable, net-zero carbon future. Our direction has been inspired by the extraordinary work of municipalities and local groups across Canada who are paving the road for just and equitable climate transitions, including Climate Caucus, Federation for Canadian Municipalities, ICLEI, Climate Reality Project’s Climate Hubs, Front commun pour la transition socio-écologique and the Collectivités ZéN, the Transition Towns movement, and municipal leadership in declaring climate emergencies, joining the Cities Race to Zero, and launching Voluntary Local Reviews. 

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We envision a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable future where communities are tackling the climate crisis and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals through a whole-community approach that involves everyone.   

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Our guiding principles include but are not limited to:   
  • Creating a culture of collaboration across sectors.
  • Promoting accessibility of knowledge through transparent processes and adaptive engagement opportunities.
  • Centering this work on equity-seeking groups that experience power imbalances and incorporating community feedback.
  • Building a culture of experimentation and celebrating creativity.
  • Enhancing our collective capacity to listen to one another and amplifying less heard stories of transformation.


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Catalyst strategy

Connect communities through a collaborative infrastructure for collective impact, climate transition and SDG localization.  

Strengthen community impact by developing and nourishing networks and relationships, building capacity and supporting peer learning.  

Amplify the impact of communities through storytelling, publications and events. 


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Key outputs (2021-24)

Through our work connecting communities, we aim to reach 100 cities from across Canada that are committed to developing a 5-year Transition City plan, and 25 out of these following through to implementation. We also hope to see 500 organizations and communities self-identifying that they have included the SDGs in their planning. As a result of these efforts, we expect to have 3,000 learners joining Tamarack's Community Climate Transitions learning community database. 

We hope to strengthen community impact through a diverse offer of capacity building events and activities: 10 private Communities of Practice, 30 Community of Practice meetings, 10 private webinars, 15 workshops and 10 peer input process sessions, and coaching.  We also recognize the importance of collaboration across the broader ecosystem, so we will be engaging with at least 12 key national and regional stakeholders in strategic partnerships. 

We also plan to engage in activities that amplify the impact of communities. Our key outputs include: 1 conference, 18 public webinars, 1,000 peer-to-peer learning registrants via webinars and communities of practice, 1 website, 15 publications (case studies, articles, papers), 18 e-magazine editions, 36 blogs, a framework and a dashboard to document on progress, 600 social media posts, 10,000 online engagement interactions and a final report to document our impact. 


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Key outcomes

The following outcomes will help us assess the impact of our efforts across Community Climate Transitions:  

Outcomes at the learners level

  • 80% of CCT communities have adopted a Collective Impact approach
  • 100% of CCT communities are advancing the SDGs locally
  • Demonstrated increase in peer learning and collaboration

Outcomes at the community level 

  • 50% of CCT communities have implemented a common agenda for change
  • Demonstrated increase in local capacity to take action
  • 50% of CCT communities have identified and measured early-stage changes through shared measurement process

Outcomes associated with changes in the system(s) 

  • Recognized CCT's influence in advancing just and equitable transitions
  • 80% of CCT communities demonstrate a critical shift in 3 conditions of systems change
  • 50% of CCT communities have generated at least one impact story related to a system change

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We want to enable community-led change across Canada that contributes to advancing just and equitable transitions and localizing the SDGs. We are seeking an impact at two levels:  

  1. Critical systemic shifts at the national, regional and local levels are triggered by our work. These include structural (policies, practices, resource flows), semi-explicit (relationships and connections represented in new coalitions, power dynamics), and transformative shifts (mental models).  
  2. Cumulative result of community action on the SDGs, particularly climate action, equity and wellbeing.

See Our Theory of Change


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Have questions?

Email us: Laura Schnurr (laura@tamarackcommunity.ca)

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