Step Five: Develop Adaptation Strategies and Actions

“Win-win” climate change adaptations are “actions that provide adaptation benefits while meeting other social, environmental or economic objectives, including climate change mitigation.” ~ Pew Center on Global Climate Change

What You Need To Do

Action planning is key to the implementation of your climate change adaptation plan. This step involves only two components that can be done sequentially or concurrently.

  1. Establish Goals and Objectives
  2. Determine Adaptation Strategies and/or Actions

Many aspects of this step are already outlined in the section of this Resource Kit on Impacts and Adaptation Actions, including an overview and summary of potential adaptation actions by thematic area. This section provides some highlights with respect to how adaptation action planning can be approached as part of the six-step process.

1. Establish Goals and Objectives

Establishing goals and objectives can be a first step in the development of adaptation strategies and actions.

  • Goals are broadly stated and represent the community vision. They are meant to help direct the long-term implementation of climate change adaptation strategies and actions.
  • Objectives are more specific, guiding statements that detail what will be done in the short and medium term to meet the set goals. They can also detail the overall purpose of the strategies and actions.

It is assumed that the strategies and actions will each relate to a specific goal and objective. However some communities prefer to proceed directly to the development of strategies and actions, particularly if their climate change adaptation planning is being undertaken in the context of an OCP review or Sustainability Planning process in which goals and objectives are already being developed.

The number of goals and objectives developed varies from community to community. The District of Elkford developed only four goals and nine objectives. The City of Rossland developed a larger number of goals and objectives, but in the end focused more on the actions and strategies.

The manner in which goal and objective statements are constructed also varies from community to community.  Examples of how the Phase 1 and 2 communities developed goal and objective statements are provided in the table below:

Community Examples:


Example Goal

Associated Objectives


Elkford is a resilient FireSmart Community

  1.  Reduce the likelihood of wildfires penetrating the WUI.
  2. Increase resiliency of new development to wildfires.
  3. Increase fire resiliency for existing homes and buildings.
  4. Prepare for wildfire emergencies and evacuations.
  5. Enhance regional forest management and wildfire planning.


Rossland manages its existing water supply without the need for additional reservoir capacity.

  1. Reduce community water consumption by 15 percent.
  2. Prepare for droughts.
  3. Engage in long-term strategic management and enhancement of our current water supply.
  4. Evaluate the potential for other sources of water.


Socio-Economic Environment / Tourism: To maintain and, where feasible, enhance, Kimberley's current tourism assets through appropriate climate adaptation actions, and identify opportunities to attract visitors from areas that are experiencing more significant climate impacts. 

  1. Ski Tourism: To maintain a viable commercial ski hill operation for as long as possible without compromising municipal water supply and related water values.
  2. Golf Tourism: To maintain three commercially viable golf courses in Kimberley for as long as possible without compromising municipal water supply and related water values.
  3. Trail-Based Tourism: To enhance, protect and more effectively promote Kimberley's trail systems as a valuable recreational and eco-tourism asset in a changing climate. (For additional objectives associated with this Goal see the Kimberley Final Report).


Community Examples: For a more comprehensive look into Phase 1 and 2 communities’ goals and objectives, see their Final Reports.

2. Determine Adaptation Strategies and/or Actions

Actions and strategies are the activities that your local government or community will undertake to achieve its preparedness goals. Actions and strategies state who, what, when and how each objective will be accomplished. More detailed actions are more likely to be implemented – it is helpful to specify both the ‘who’ (responsibility) and the ‘process’ (i.e. municipal capital planning process, community education program, etc).  Confirming buy-in from the group or local government department that is assigned to implement the action is an important step. It is important to work throughout the process with all groups that may end up implementing actions to ensure that the actions selected are appropriate, doable and acceptable.

The terms actions and strategies are sometimes used interchangeably. Some communities develop only actions, while others develop only strategies. If a community develops both, generally strategies are broader and actions are more specific and outline in more detail how the strategy will be achieved. The Climate Change Adaptation Discovery Tool (ADT) provided in this Resource Kit incorporates both actions and strategies.

Community involvement in the selection of actions is important for ensuring buy-in for those actions later. Actions and strategies can be selected through multiple approaches. It is best to involve the public in some manner in selecting and prioritizing actions. Many of the workshop techniques introduced in Step 4 with regard to prioritizing impacts are relevant in designing workshops for selecting and prioritizing actions.

Community Example: City of Rossland's Process for Prioritizing Actions at a Public Workshop

Community Example: City of Rossland's Action Data Base handout for Prioritization at a Public Workshop

Some potential criteria to utilize in selecting actions include:

  • Will the actions meet your preparedness goals?
  • Do the benefits of the action exceed the costs?
  • Is the action robust under the range of climate change scenarios?
  • Is the action flexible, and does it increase flexibility in how a planning area is managed or functions?
  • Can the action be implemented, and in what time frame?

Community Example: The District of Elkford developed strategies for every objective. Below is an example of the recommended strategies for becoming a resilient, FireSmart community. 



 Strategy  Recommendation

Elkford is a Resilient FireSmart Community

Reduce the likelihood of wildfires penetrating the WUI

 1. Implement wildfire fuel reduction program

 2. Park and trail development

Reduce the vulnerability of new developments to wildfire

 3. Fire hazard development permit area

 4. Update subdivision and servicing bylaw

 5. Update zoning bylaw

Fire resilient homes and buildings

 6. Update building bylaw

 7. FireSmart education program

 8. FireSmart rebate program

Prepared for wildfire emergencies and evacuations

 9. Community evacuation plan

 10. Improve firefighting capacity

Enhance regional forest management and wildfire planning

 11. Strengthen partnerships outside the District

 12. Community forest


In addition, the District of Elkford developed prioritization tables to determine when the strategies would take place. 

Community Example: The District of Elkford's Action Prioritization Table

Climate Change Adaptation Goal

High urgency (Initiate in 0-2 years)

Moderate urgency (Initiate in 3-10 years)

Low urgency (Initiate in 10+ years)


1. Elkford is a Resilient FireSmart Community


  • Fire Hazard development permit area in OCP
  • Update subdivision and servicing bylaw
  • Update building bylaw
  • Update zoning Bylaw
  • Elkford community evacuation plan
  • Implement fuel reduction program
  • Road, trail and park development to maximize fire breaks


  • FireSmart education program:
  • FireSmart rebate program
  • Strengthen partnerships outside the District



  • Improve local firefighting capacity
  • Elkford community forest









Useful Material

Community Example: City of Rossland's Action Planning Data Base - The City of Rossland's Action Planning Data Base contains a compilation of climate change adaptation actions relevant to Rossland’s four priority issue areas (water, infrastructure, energy and food), as well as a number of general cross-cutting actions that relate to all four priority issue areas. The actions outlined in this data base have been taken from climate change adaptation plans in jurisdictions around the world.

Climate Impacts Group Preparing for Climate Change Guidebook - Chapters 10 and 11 of the Guidebook
provide helpful information on setting goals and determining action plans.