Climate change is increasingly intersecting with the challenges faced by people seeking to emerge from poverty, and changing the way Canadian development organizations – and their partners in the global south – must design their programs to ensure resiliency and continued sustainability. Climate change not only permeates the entire development process, it threatens many of the development gains of the past years.

Five case studies in this package outline how climate change can and is being incorporated by Canadian organizations in development and humanitarian work in order to increase resiliency or decrease risk in vulnerable communities. The sixth case study examines how national-level adaptation plans can be improved to ensure that adaptation is inclusive and responsive to the needs of the most vulnerable.

For development practitioners, lessons from the case studies show that promoting understanding of climate change through integration with existing programs can increase awareness of climate impacts and lead to better adaptation, and that integrated, coordinated initiatives that draw from multi-disciplinary teams can help address both climate impacts and the underlying drivers of vulnerability.

For policy-makers, the case studies show that adaptation must form part of a holistic response that aims to reduce the underlying causes of vulnerability and not simply respond to a specific projected climate impact, and that both local and scientific knowledge are essential in understanding how communities experience climate impacts and how they can increase their resiliency. It is essential to build networks to increase knowledge sharing around climate change, as no one organization can address all impacts or all drivers of vulnerability. Efforts to integrate climate impacts and adaptation must be scaled up, as the impacts of climate change are already hitting home for vulnerable populations around the world.

The lessons from each study, detailed in the individual case study reports and summarized here, have the potential to impact the work that Canadian organizations undertake internationally and the policies adopted by national governments.

Umbrella Paper

For an overview of the lessons learned from the following 5 Case Studies, please see

International Institute for Sustainable Development and Centre for Science and Technology Innovations

In Kenya, drought events have become more pronounced in recent years, adversely affecting the lives and livelihoods of smallholder farmers. IISD and CSTI have undertaken a pilot project that links together downscaled weather forecasts, improved agriculture practices, increased access to reliable water, and a revolving microcredit system for women’s self-help groups. These initiatives contribute to improved and diversified livelihoods, and facilitate the integration of climate change in policies related to disaster management and sustainable development.
View PDF

Canadian Foodgrains Bank

In the Nkayi District of western Zimbabwe, chronic food insecurity is the result of recurring and persistent droughts stretching back nearly a decade. A three-year project of the Foodgrains Bank and Christian Care — a local partner — has demonstrated that promoting conservation agriculture can increase yields, decrease chemical inputs and lower capital investment required from farmers. The result? Increased food security and greater resilience to climate change in a drought-prone area.
View PDF

Oxfam Canada

In the lowland communities of Bolivia, there is a widespread perception of unpredictability of rains, warmer temperatures, and increases in extreme weather. Terrible flooding in Beni in 2007 and 2008 motivated local communities to enlist with Oxfam in a project known as the camellones (‘raised fields’). This farming practice draws on both ancient techniques and modern science to offer a sustainable solution to flooding, drought and overall food insecurity.
View PDF

World Vision Canada

On the Indonesian Island of West Kalimantan, communities concerned about the disruptive forces of environmental and climate stresses participated in a pilot project to assess the environmental stresses and the local capacity to cope with them. Incorporating local wisdom, scientific knowledge of climate change, and risk assessment strategies, World Vision has developed new programming methods and standardized vulnerability assessment tools to better address the complex relationship between climate change, environmental degradation, food insecurity and child malnutrition.
View PDF

Care Canada

CARE’s ‘case study’ stands apart from the others; rather than focusing on the lessons of one particular project, CARE has examined the process of developing National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPA) in Malawi and Niger. Worryingly, gaps in the NAPA process as identified by CARE demonstrate that the priority actions included in the NAPAs are inadequate in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable groups. CARE provides recommendations to improve the process.
View PDF