Definition and Types of Adaptation

Learn about ProActive Adaptation - longterm strategic response vs Reactive Adaptation - immediate response, Vulnerability, Adaptive Capacity.

What is Adaptation?

Climate change poses some challenges for Canada's Aboriginal and northern communities. Our response to climate change is measured in terms of adaptation. Adaptation is how we respond to (or prepare for) climate change, in order to reduce the negative impacts and take advantage of positive impacts. Our ability to make these adjustments is called adaptive capacity. Some communities demonstrate incredible resilience through their ability to absorb disruptions caused by climate change, to make adjustments and still retain their functionality, structure and identity. Our response to climate change is affected by our vulnerability, our ability to cope with negative impacts.

Some examples of adaptation to climate change in the North:

  • Develop alternative sources of food such as greenhouse gardens
  • Install screens in windows to allow air flow and reduce insects
  • Improve survival skills to travel in dangerous weather
  • Construct all-weather roads where possible
  • Share resources and information about risks and solutions
  • Increase the variety of energy sources including small scale systems
  • Learn more about the possible impacts and changes

Types of Adaptation

There are two main types of adaptation to climate change. Reactive adaptation is our immediate response to climate change. This type of adaptation is often used to regain stability. It is sometimes not the best response when our past understanding doesn't correspond to current environmental and socio-economic conditions.

Proactive adaptation is more likely to reduce the long-term damage, risk and vulnerability due to climate change. Proactive adaptation involves long-term decision making which improves our ability to cope with future climate change. Periodic assessment and risk management strategies help make this response the most effective.