Introducing: The Climate Adaptation Competency Framework

February 3, 2021 / by ICA Editor        Contributor: Vivian Forssman

(Previously posted on the Adaptation Learning Network Blog)

Embedded Video Caption: Dr. Robin Cox, discusses the launch and use of the Climate Adaptation Competency Framework

What are climate adaptation competencies, and how might we integrate them into our professions and the work we do? Adaptation Learning Network has been consulting with climate adaptation experts for the past two years, examining existing and future roles and knowledge requirements in both the business and social demands of climate adaptation. Our research included consultation with professional associations to identify knowledge and skills gaps in their professions; and interviews with climate adaptation experts in senior policy, scientific and academic roles. This research informed the development of the first Climate Adaptation Competency Framework in Canada.

The Climate Adaptation Competency Framework (CACF) is an example of the growing interest in the use of competency frameworks in Canada, driven by the need to more clearly articulate professional skillsets and behaviours. Other examples include the BC Public Service competencies, the Ministry of Education’s global competencies, and the Government of Ontario‚Äôs 21st-century competencies. These frameworks all reflect the need to upskill and evolve the Canadian workforce as we navigate new job opportunities and challenges in sectors that include everything from health, tourism, information technologies, and now, climate change.

For a practical example of applying one of the competency domains in the CACF, let’s use Climate Change Science as an example. The Framework includes competencies on scientific literacy to better utilize the data from climate services. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), plus research labs and climate services organizations such as Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium, Ouranos, Prairie Climate Centre and the Canadian Centre for Climate Services, provide publicly accessible, open climate data, plus recommendations for action. Governments, organizations and businesses need to effectively use this data to inform their priorities in adapting to current and future climate risks. Individuals and teams require these scientific literacies to model climate change risks on behalf of their organization. The CACF translates climate recommendations into skills that would help implement meaningful and beneficial change for climate resilience. 

The Climate Adaptation Competency Framework 

  1. is a practical approach for managing workforce development and performance monitoring in this interdisciplinary professional field;
  2. helps those hiring and those applying for jobs to understand what skills, behaviours and attitudes are needed to perform climate adaptation work effectively;
  3. provides a basis for instructional designers, who build courses for training and educational purposes, to identify learning outcomes focused on climate-related issues, hazards, and solutions. Plus, other competencies focused on adaptation are now available for both individuals and employers to better align skills to the new types of emerging jobs to address the climate crisis and identify gaps in knowledge to line up appropriate training for emergent workforce requirements.

The CACF is a work in progress, and at a recent webinar on the document, we collected some excellent feedback from our community. Members of the Adaptation Learning Network have pointed out that the CACF may be a difficult read for those new to climate change or that some of the competencies do not apply across Canada. This type of feedback is imperative to producing subsequent versions of the document that will be more user-friendly and applicable. 

We are currently gathering feedback from our community from February-March 31, 2021 and will release our second version of the CACF in Spring 2021. If you need a quick primer on the document, check out the webinar the Adaptation Learning Network recently hosted!

Further Resources