Small and mid-sized communities navigating through the climate crisis

Posted on December 13, 2021
By Jorge Garza

Cities have a major role to play locally in response to the climate emergency and its repercussions by strengthening community resilience and developing innovative and more equitable ways to collaborate across sectors.

Small and mid-sized cities across Canada are critical to advancing climate action as many of these municipalities (particularly mid-sized ones) have high population growth rates, which accelerated during the pandemic. Such rates put added pressure on the demand for social and physical infrastructure and services to meet the needs of a growing population, while ensuring that economic and urban development stay within our planetary boundaries for a safe living space.


nadine-shaabana-stairsMitigation and adaptation processes

Small and mid-sized cities are looking at ways to develop effective approaches to address the climate crisis and the natural disasters accentuated by climate change, such as wildfires, droughts, heat waves and floods through mitigation and adaptation processes.

Mitigation involves preventing or reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to make the impacts of climate change less severe. Establishing a cleaner mobility system, increasing the share of renewable energies and increasing the size of forests to enhance the storage of gases are examples of how mitigation interventions can help communities reduce their GHG emissions.

Adaptation is the process of adjusting to the effects of climate change and developing approaches to minimize the damage they can cause. Adaptation measures include large-scale infrastructure projects, such as developing sea-level rise protection plans, and behavioral shifts (which is also key to mitigation efforts), such as those aimed at shifting consumer patterns to avoid food waste.

Implementing response measures to climate change can be challenging for small and mid-sized communities given the limited offer of resources and training, and the difficulties of coordinating between jurisdictions. These coordination challenges are an issue that the federal government is reviewing through its National Adaptation Strategy.


Building a vision for climate adaptation

As small and mid-sized cities explore the development of local plans that focus on mitigation or adaptation, it is important to consider current and emergent local needs due to demographic and economic changes.

Adopting a multigenerational vision of the climate crisis that reflects on the impacts of climate change for current and future generations is another important consideration. The fall 2021 floods in British Columbia are proof of the catastrophic impacts of climate change and the need to move toward holistic approaches that support GHG reduction and adaptation to a changing planet. Doing so requires bold collaborations across sectors in accelerating local efforts.

Establishing a common vision agenda and identifying a shared measurement framework for local interventions are two initial steps in beginning collaborations toward building just and equitable futures.


Opportunity: Developing climate transition plans

Community Climate Transitions at Tamarack is exploring ways to support community efforts to respond to local challenges. We are launching the Climate Transitions Cohort as an opportunity for communities across Canada to collaborate and develop local climate transitions plans grounded in deep community engagement and collaboration through a collective impact approach.


Questions or comments? Connect with Jorge:


Twitter: @jgarza321

Medium: @jorge.garza


Further Your Learning:

  • Read this article to learn more about the promise of collective impact in advancing just and equitable transitions
  • Watch this video to explore key questions on the Climate Transitions Cohort


Cette ressource est également disponible en français. Cliquez ici pour accéder à la page de destination de la version française.

Community Readiness, Homepage Blog, CCT blog, Climate Transitions

Jorge Garza

By Jorge Garza

Jorge believes in the power of places and the potential of communities to build regenerative futures. He joined the Vibrant Communities team as a Manager of Cities. Together with the Climate Transitions team, Jorge is supporting communities to localize the Sustainable Development Goals and advance a just and equitable climate transition. He brings a diverse background of experience in visual thinking, strategy development, program design and urban policy analysis inspired by his journey in the philanthropic, international development and nonprofit sectors. Twitter: @jgarza321

Related Posts