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April 01, 2021

The Nuts and Bolts of Climate Change Adaptation for Planners: The BRACE Training Series

The Nuts and Bolts of Climate Change Adaptation for Planners: The BRACE Training Series
Headline photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

We are in a time of multiple complex challenges: the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and recovery being at the forefront for many communities, in addition to a greater focus on equity, anti-racism, fighting systemic discrimination, and advancing Indigenous reconciliation. Climate change is deeply connected to all of these issues, and adaptation continues to be a high priority across Ontario, particularly with Canada warming at twice the global average rate. It is therefore key that Ontario’s Registered Professional Planners (RPPs) have a deep understanding of climate science, policy, and engagement methods to strengthen the capacity to integrate adaptation across all spheres of planning, and improve the transdisciplinary nature of the work we do to tackle these wicked problems.

With this in mind, the Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI) secured funding through Natural Resource Canada’s Building Regional Adaptation Capacity and Expertise (BRACE) program in 2019, aiming to develop a customized training program in collaboration with the Climate Risk Institute, Risk Sciences International, and Dillon Consulting Limited. The training program is a first of its kind in Ontario, bringing together current knowledge informed by the deep experience of practitioners in the field, and supported by an Advisory Committee of academic, municipal, private sector, and Indigenous members. The training has completed a preliminary pilot with students in planning programs across Ontario and will be headed into a pilot phase in the summer with the launch of the training aimed for late 2021.

Any OPPI member who is interested in participating in the pilot sessions for the program, please reach out to OPPI Registrar & Director, Member Services, Ryan Des Roches.


The training consists of three core modules:
  • Module 1: Climate Change
  • Module 2: The Policy Environment
  • Module 3: Climate Change Communications and Collaboration
The modules are interconnected, building on knowledge and understanding, and developing connections to real-world situations and planning exercises. The approach aims to be highly interactive, relying on active engagement in discussions and sharing experiences among the training participants. Indigenous knowledge, perspectives, and engagement approaches are highlighted throughout the training program, and the importance of centering equity is a foundational principle in all three modules.

During the preliminary pilot, students were asked to complete three short assessment surveys to provide the project team with feedback regarding the content, structure and delivery approach of each core module. While students found the training to be overall “quite informative, well planned out and well executed,” many expressed that extending the duration of each session and expanding on some concepts would be helpful. Because portions of the material were dense, more time for discussions and activities would have been appreciated.

The students enjoyed the interactive elements like pop quizzes and a case study analysis using mural (a digital workspace for visual collaboration) so much so that many of them suggested adding more opportunities for engagement like this. Participants also expressed that they appreciated the integration of real-world examples and the use of video, and that increased use of these educational tools would help to enhance the learning experience.

This feedback has been immensely helpful to the team as we engage in refining and preparing the training program for the pilot, while also considering how the needs of the student population may vary from those of established RPPs.

We are taking on the challenge of providing an ambitious scope of content, while ensuring it flows in a cohesive and engaging manner. As we prepare for the upcoming pilot, this program is shaping up to be a valuable resource – and RPPs should be excited!

Keep an eye out for future communications from OPPI on the BRACE training series.

The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author(s), and may not reflect the position of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute.

Post by Heather Swan, RPP, Paul Cobb, Veronica Osei-Akoto Brown, and Zahra Jaffer

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