NRCan Virtual Hub

In 2021, Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Division (CCIAD) contracted the Resilience by Design Lab, along with partners Climate Risk Institute, ICLEI Canada, and Solvable Systems Inc. to explore options for a future Climate Change Adaptation virtual webspace that might better meet the adaptation capacity-building needs of the federal government, climate adaptation professionals, and other Canadian stakeholders and rights-holders. 

Global heating, climate change and climate change impacts are accelerating and intensifying.  There is a proliferation of climate adaptation related websites offering services, information resources, tools and networks to evaluate regional and national options to prepare communities for climate impacts and to discover shared interests. But unless one already knows about these websites, it is difficult to discern which website meets which  information and climate action needs, and for whom. For example, engineers working on public infrastructure have different climate action information requirements than a person responsible for climate adaptation communications within an agri-business. Professionals who work on climate action projects in Saskatchewan are dealing with drought but not sea-level rise in coastal communities. Such a website with “wayfinding features” would become an important resource for Canadian professionals, communities, academics and the general public as we tackle the issues of adapting to a changing climate.


The intent of the Adaptation Hub project was to research what characteristics, services, and capabilities a national adaptation digital platform might encompass, and then make recommendations to NRCan which would inform the development and operations of this digital space.  

The Adaptation Hub “vision” was to bring a way-finding approach to multiple sites who already have data, expertise, services, funding, courses and communities to better access information and expertise and inspire actions to address climate change impacts and integrate planning for all facets of ecosystems, infrastructure and resilient communities. 

The Adaptation Hub vision would be supportive of Indigenous communities and leaders through an inclusive and responsive design to meet Indigenous adaptation capacity-building needs, while also offering Indigenous climate adaptation expertise to a wider Canadian community.


The project team was tasked with :

  1. Undertaking a “desktop research” situation analysis of what currently exists in Canada, and how other countries offer national adaptation hubs. This included a review of national climate adaptation policies, tools and data, learning opportunities, communities of practice, and information on provincial and federal government climate action initiatives and services.
  2. Facilitating focus group sessions plus an international technical advisory roundtable, and conducting one-on-one interviews with adaptation professionals, digital community-of-practice experts and the broader climate adaptation community.  This engagement process explored resources and services which might become part of Adaptation Hub. In addition, the project evaluated best practices in digital “public good” web environments and product/service models. 

Synthesizing this information into a series of recommendations, and developing a report, Adaptation Hub: Connecting People, Accelerating Impact, Fostering Innovation. The recommendations were presented to Natural Resources Canada in April 2021


The Adaptation Hub recommendations included the following Conditions for Success​

  1. Create a strategic plan (within NRCan-CCIAD leadership and through Plenary) to assure “digital culture success” in operating a digital knowledge-brokering and wayfinding hub. 
  2. Secure sustainable long-term budget for operations (minimum 5-year funding commitment).​
  3. Build an integrated team charged with a product and service mandate with expertise in:
    1. open-source design;
    2. technical development and operations;
    3. subject matter expertise;
    4. content and communications.
  4. Assure Indigenous participation and actions right from the beginning. ​

Should federal government funding be allocated to begin the development and operations of Adaptation Hub, six priority service areas, together with the virtual roadmap, represent starting points for Adaptation Hub to become a vital resource for Canadian climate adaptation professionals, communities, and the general public.

Six Priority Service Areas Recommended for Adaptation Hub

  1. Awareness Raising
    1. On Boarding
    2. Growing Networks
    3. Readiness Assessments
    4. Sector Specific Resources
  2. Knowledge and Information Provision
    1. Climate Information Translation
    2. Curated Knowledge
    3. Knowledge Generation
    4. Curated News Service
  3. Technical and Expert Support
    1. Gateways to Connection
    2. Human Assistance
    3. Relationship Matching
  4. Training and Capacity Building
    1. A Hub of Hubs
    2. Off-the-shelf Tools
    3. Multiple Learning Modalities
  5. Collaboration
    1. Peer-to-peer
    2. Access Trusted Experts
    3. Digital Connection Spaces
    4. Mentorship and Secondment
  6. Progress Measurement
    1. Measurement
    2. Evaluation/Benchmarking
    3. Reporting