The Power of Policy: A Canadian Perspective

JULY 16, 2018 – MONICA HARVEY

Canada’s Climate Change Adaptation Platform. Photo: Natural Resources Canada

I started my career in a technical field completing a Bachelor of Science in Honours Chemistry with a focus on environmental chemistry and a final year thesis in atmospheric chemistry. After working at an environmental consulting company, I returned to school to obtain a Master of Applied Science in Environmental Engineering. It wasn’t until designing my Master’s thesis project that I started to become more aware of a world outside of academic science and engineering that could potentially be just as impactful as the technological solutions I was hoping to create. The objectives and trends driving my Master’s thesis project were based on environmental policy and regulations. Having only ever taken courses in science, math and engineering and working in labs and field sampling, this was my first introduction to public policy and the influence it had, not only on my research, but on the behaviours and actions of companies, communities and people. After my Masters degree, I pursued a career in environmental policy focusing on climate change and am currently working as a Policy Analyst for the Canadian Federal Government working for Canada’s Climate Change Adaptation Platform. 

I work on projects that help to better understand the impacts of a changing climate and helping Canadians adapt and increase their resilience to these risks. This is a priority for the Canadian Federal Government with commitments made through the development of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate change, Canada’s plan, developed with the Provinces and Territories and in consultation with Indigenous Peoples, to meet emissions reduction targets made under the Paris Climate Agreement, grow the economy and build resilience to a changing climate. To support the framework, the Federal Government has made several investment proposals through the Federal Budget with $370 million for programming to develop information, tools and capacity to support these objectives.

Climate change risks, impacts and adaptation measures are multi-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional and as a result, in 2012 the Government of Canada created Canada’s Climate Change Adaptation Platform, a national forum that brings together stakeholders from federal, provincial, and territorial governments, industry, communities, academics, as well as Indigenous, professional, and not-for-profit organizations. The platform facilitates information and resource sharing as well as collaboration on climate change adaptation priorities. While other Federal Departments are responsible for research and climate data, the Platform is responsible for building capacity related to climate change adaptation, helping to understand specific risks, and implementation of adaptation measures. This includes addressing barriers and gaps such as a lack of understanding of how to use climate change data and information. The Platform is also separated into different working groups focusing on issues such as energy, infrastructure, mining and coastal management allowing a more narrowed and targeted focus on the unique challenges of different issues. The program also provides funding for projects that help to support climate change adaptation measures in Canada such as understanding the increasing electricity demand for cooling due to increasing temperaturesestimating the costs of inaction towards the growing risks to climate change, and understanding the policy barriers and enablers for climate change adaptation.

My technical background has been an asset but climate change adaptation policy is complicated and there are gaps in my understanding of economics, political science, and communications that I work hard to close. As a public servant for the Canadian Government I’m also expected to have a working knowledge of French, Canada’s second official language. While I feel that I’ve reached a good balance working in public policy, I would encourage anyone working in climate change to take advantage of any opportunities to increase your knowledge of different disciplines.

For any questions or to hear more about the working in climate change adaptation policy for the Canadian Federal Government contact Monica Harvey at monica.harvey@gmail.com.

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