In 2013, Engineers Canada and the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) established the Infrastructure and Buildings Working Group (IBWG) in consultation with Natural Resources Canada.
As part of Canada’s Adaptation Platform, the IWBG works to build capacity, generate evidence, and provide outreach for experts working in areas where climate change adaptation comes into play—among them infrastructure managers, municipalities, builders, insurers, and engineers. The IBWG is comprised of federal, provincial, municipal, private industry, and non-government representatives and has over 35 members from across Canada within these cohorts.
Notably, Engineers Canada is one of only a few NGOs and one of two professions that was invited by Natural Resources Canada to participate in Canada’s Adaptation Platform. Engineers Canada became involved with this work as part of its broader mandate to engage in requests made by the federal government and its work on climate change adaptation and engineering since 2003.
Since its inception, the IWBG has worked to facilitate increased efforts and improved methodologies surrounding the adaptation of buildings and infrastructure. Among the group’s most significant accomplishments was the publication of a 180-page “state of play” report in 2017, which provided an overview of the current state of preparedness of Canadian buildings and infrastructure with regard to climate change adaptation. The report identified several gaps in terms of Canada’s current efforts in this area:
- A lack of consistent guidance and direction from senior levels of government
- A lack of availability of engineering and finance tools for proactive municipalities working to build business cases for vulnerability assessments
- A need for guidance on risk tolerance, such as stormwater management standards, especially in existing urban areas
- A lack of funding to implement measures
- The need to design goals that will meet the needs of the future climate within infrastructure lifespan
- A lack of streamlined data and information sources regarding climate change
- A need for clearly defined roles and responsibilities for water infrastructure, as well as better-integrated adaptation implementation
- Limited public awareness of the urgent need to make changes now
In its efforts to address these pressing issues, the IWBG has conducted extensive outreach work, organizing over 40 presentations to key infrastructure and building stakeholder groups. Many of the members are conducting projects in their jurisdictions that are addressing many of the gaps at the local level. The IBWG holds several teleconferences each year and the co-chairs participate in the biannual meetings of the Adaptation Platform Plenary, a coordinating body for the Platform. In the near future, the group will be reviewing the progress of members on the gaps identified in the State of Play report and discuss ways to collaborate to further this work.
Ultimately, the IWBG’s goal is to facilitate the design and maintenance of climate-resilient buildings and infrastructure in Canada to address the uncertainties that relate to a climate that will likely look very different from the one we know today.