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Reducing vulnerability to climate change in the Arctic: the case of Nunavut, Canada

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J. Ford
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Existing policy responses to climate change in Nunavut, Canada have largely focused on mitigation. However, because of the likelihood of adverse climate change impacts there has been a growing push for adaptation policies. This paper argues that research on adaptation policy in the Arctic is nascent and the policy deficit is evident in the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, which shows the limited discussion of adaptation policy. This paper responds to this deficit by outlining key areas in which policy can reduce vulnerability to climate change, and specifically, the vulnerability associated with renewable resource harvesting in small Inuit communities. The authors draw upon the climate vulnerability work conducted in partnership with the communities of Arctic Bay and Igloolik in the Canadian territory of Nunavut. The authors discuss that climate change adaptation policy in Arctic Canada has been limited by the severe nature of projected climate change impacts, apparently limited options for adaptation, competing policy priorities, a myopic focus on mitigation, and lack of funds. However, this paper demonstrates that there are opportunities to target factors affecting vulnerability in existing policy programmes.As part of the recommendations, the authors identify three entry points for adaptation policy - cultural preservation, wildlife management, and harvester support - and outline the ways in which they can reduce vulnerability to climate change and increase overall community wellbeing. It is asserted that through expansion and modification of existing programs, there is potential to stem the erosion of Inuit knowledge, maintain social networks and harvesting flexibility, and provide funding to facilitate adaptive mechanisms.