Stephanie Chang on CCA expert panel re: disaster response

In 2020, SCARP's very own Stephanie Chang joined an expert panel convened by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA), charged with investigating and reporting on what key opportunities exist to improve disaster resilience in Canada.

As of a few days ago, we are excited to announce the expert panel has launched its report, Building a Resilient Canada.

 

 


Professor Stephanie Chang, SCARP
About the Council of Canadian Academies

The CCA is a not-for-profit organization that undertakes independent, evidence-based expert panel assessments to inform public policy development in Canada.

The CCA was founded by three independent organizations that represent some of the finest minds in Canada ― the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Engineering, and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. Their Fellows and senior decision-makers sit on CCA's Board of Directors and Scientific Advisory Committee, and they are a key source of membership for expert panels.

The CCA's founding Academies also provide key guidance and input throughout the assessment process, including expert panel nominations and dissemination processes.

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Context of the report

With its large geography and diverse environments, Canada is susceptible to a wide range of hazards, including extremes of both hot and cold, droughts, winter storms, freezing rain, tornadoes, avalanches, and landslides.

Public Safety Canada asked the CCA to examine key opportunities to improve disaster resilience in Canada through better integration of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation research and practice.

The Building a Resilient Canada report:

  • Examines current practices and emerging actions to reduce vulnerability and exposure to natural hazards through the integration of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction (DRR)
  • Identifies choices that households, communities, businesses, and governments can make to reduce the impacts of extreme weather on Canada’s people, communities, and economy in a changing climate
  • Details the resources, funding programs, investment options, insurance offerings, and governance structures that can support effective decision-making and a more resilient Canada.

Building a Resilient Canada bridges the proactive and the reactive, neglecting neither approach. While the cost of preventing and preparing for disasters is several times less than responding to and recovering from them, most governments persistently under-invest in risk reduction and later pay the price in terms of disaster response and recovery.

Towards the goal of reducing exposure and vulnerability to disasters and bolstering public safety in a changing climate, some recommended steps forward include:

  • Prompt access to better data on extreme weather events to understand and reduce risks
  • Funding, investment, and insurance programs and policies to be adapted to build more resilient cities and communities
  • Recognizing the value of Indigenous and Local Knowledge and actively engaging with Indigenous knowledge holders
  • A coordinated strategic approach involving government, businesses, and the public

“The tragic and damaging impacts of cascading hazards are becoming increasingly apparent, as we saw in BC, where record-breaking rainfall triggered landslides in areas where vegetation had been destroyed by wildfires just months earlier,” said Scott Vaughan, Chair of the Expert Panel. “But outcomes like this are not inevitable ― they are the result of choices that put people in harm’s way. There are practical measures that can be implemented to help mitigate the most damaging effects of extreme weather events.”

Take a look

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