Climate Action Competency Framework

The Climate Adaptation Competency Framework (CACF) was designed to provide diverse individuals, organizations, industries, and communities with a way of understanding and building the knowledge and skills necessary for designing, planning, and implementing adaptation strategies, actions, and plans. The CACF was designed as one way of responding to the diverse implications of climate change on workforces and labour markets including changes in workforce needs, workforce regulations, the growth of new green jobs, and the identification of skills and labour market gaps.

As a result of the cross-functional nature of climate adaptation, a broad range of professions are being called on to consider the implications of climate change in their work, and where appropriate integrate climate adaptation principles and practices into their work. People on the front lines of planning and implementing climate adaptation include financial analysts and accountants, risk-managers, engineers, biologists, agrologists, foresters, landscape architects, city planners, architects, technicians, and policy and decision makers in all levels of government. The emergent nature of this field means however, that there are presently few resources to help guide an understanding of what competencies are needed, and at what level of proficiency or expertise those competencies might be required for any specific role or function. It is important to recognize that the CACF is grounded in Western cultural concepts and language and ways of working. Where possible, we have tried to foreground in the suite of competencies the importance of understanding other perspectives, worldviews, and ways of working, especially those of Indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples bring important historical and natural system knowledge into the planning and implementation of climate adaptation solutions. In this context, therefore, the CACF can provide the basis for a practical, systematic, and easy-to-use developmental road map for individuals, organizations, and communities who are integrating the practices of climate adaptation but does not replace the need to understand and work with Indigenous conceptualizations of climate change, climate adaptation, ways of working, and the wisdom of Indigenous peoples.


The CACF attempts to illustrate the different breadth of competencies necessary to deal with and prepare for a climate change-altered present and future. It details the central competencies required by someone working either as a specialist or working in a profession or field in which climate concerns and climate adaptation need to be integrated. The framework is designed to:

  1. Establish a shared understanding of climate adaptation competencies by detailing the central competencies necessary to climate adaptation, and examples of associated behavioural indicators for those competencies.
  2. Offer a practical, systematic road map or tool for individuals, organizations, teams and others to guide capacity and capability development, and to support objective assessments of competency strengths and gaps in the workforce.
  3. Enable individuals and businesses to facilitate professional development and training agendas to develop capacity in this field.
  4. Support those interested in further developing climate adaptation capacity through recruitment and hiring qualified candidates.
  5. Shape behaviours that strengthen the individual’s capability and thus enhance performance outcomes relative to accountabilities of specific roles.


Developing climate adaptation competencies, and the capacity and capability that flow from them, requires a shared understanding of what the specialized competency requirements are, and some standards of competence for those involved in the field. In response to this need, the Adaptation Learning Network Project, led by Dr. Robin Cox and the Resilience by Design (RbD) Lab at Royal Roads University, and funded by Natural Resources Canada and the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, undertook the design and development of the CACF. The design and development process of the CACF involved the contributions and insights of
many climate adaptation subject matter experts and practitioners from Canada and internationally, and the input o others with vested interests in the use of such a framework. The framework is intentionally licensed using a Creative Commons license to ensure the uptake is as wide as possible, and to allow others to use the framework and adapt to their specific contexts. The Resilience By Design Lab, working with funding from the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, is currently redesigning the framework to improve its functionality and to incorporate climate mitigation competencies resulting in a Climate Action Competency Framework.


The Climate Adaptation Competency Framework was developed by the Resilience By Design Lab as part of the Adaptation Learning Network project funded by Natural Resources Canada: Building Regional Adaptation Capacity & Expertise (BRACE) and The BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and Royal Roads University. Logos RbD; natural resources Canada, BC Ministry of Environment and Climate change Strategy


The Climate Adaptation Competency Framework, developed by Adaptation Learning Network, provides: 

  • a defined set of competencies to ensure that individuals and teams have expertise and abilities to perform climate adaptation job functions;
  • a practical approach to identify skills gaps and monitor performance in organizations offering climate adaptation services;  
  • terminology for those hiring and those applying for jobs to communicate the skills, behaviours and attitudes for climate adaptation work;
  • a foundation for designing courses with relevant learning outcomes that align with climate adaptation competencies.