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“To better weather the storm” preparing for the climate changes to come

“The purpose of NAM is to raise awareness while coordinating change across communities”
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Cameron DeLong, director of the GN’s Climate Change Secretariat, addresses municipal leaders and senior administrative officers attending the Nunavut Association of Municipalities annual general meeting in Iqaluit last week. Kira Wronska Dorward/NNSL photo

A significant portion of the Nunavut Association of Municipalities (NAM) annual general meeting in Iqaluit last week was devoted to the still small but growing Climate Change Secretariat (CCS).

“What we’re hoping to do here this afternoon is important,” said Cameron DeLong, director of the Government of Nunavut’s CCS, in his address to the gathered municipal leaders and senior administrative officers. “The purpose of CCS is to raise awareness while coordinating change across communities… [Your] concerns are things people don’t know about. We want to start fixing them, so that’s why it’s such a great opportunity here today. You see it. You’ve been seeing it for years. Our goal is helping communities prepare better for the changes that are going to come.”

DeLong went on to explain that while still relatively modest in scale for the vast swath of land that is Nunavut, the CCS is growing as it compiles data and formulates strategies. Staff reach out to municipalities with information resources and possible approaches.

“We have reports that summarize all this stuff,” reiterated DeLong, referring to other climate change and climate data. The GN-wide risk and resiliency reportis an ongoing project in its second year. The translated posters distributed to communities, and an array of other compiled data relating to various initiatives, such as the Renewable Energy Support Program.

A recent greenhouse gas emissions inventory concluded that, as a whole, Nunavut releases 1,300 kilotons of carbon annually, which works out to 33 tons per person. To date, only six communities have completed a community energy plan in conjunction with the CCS, but the hope is that more of the remaining 19 communities will engage with the program.

“We call ourselves matchmakers. We identify climate change impacts, find connections, and bring people together to solve these challenges,” said DeLong.

The hope is that through information sharing, relationship building and communication, or “mainstreaming climate change,” in the parlance of CCS, community leaders will always be thinking about climate change while making every municipal decision.

There is currently a Nunavut Climate Change Youth Advisory Committee in consultation with the CCS, as well as partnerships with the other Northern territories and the federal government. Funding for various initiatives and applications, such as solar panels for individual homeowners as part of the Renewable Energy Support Program, will be forthcoming for the 2024-5 fiscal year in April, and CCS stresses the importance of capitalizing on these resources, which are available on a “first come, first served” basis, sometimes with a backlog of waitlisted applications. in reference to our renewable energy support program, specifically the renewable energy homeowner grant program which is administered by NHC.

“We haven’t prioritized where to work… we need to know where our biggest risk areas are,” DeLong told the audience.

Creating resiliency

“We are trying to help to form a lot of training skill sets and reports so that your communities can be better prepared,” said DeLong. “We are trying to better understand the training needs within communities to help them with their adaptation prepardness, the idea being is that we will be submitting a plan outlining training needs to the federal government under the Building Regional Adaptation Capacity and Expertise Program (BRACE). This was the overall goal of our engagement at NAM, to better understand where communities felt they needed those additional supports (training, resources, etc).

“Climate change is coming. It’s already here… it’s going to increase. Civilizations have gone through periods of climatic changes in the past, and it often has significant changes on these civilizations.

“We have an advantage. We have a great advantage in that we know these changes are coming — they’ve been forecasted for us. We’re not going to be necessarily blindsided. And because they’re forecasted for us, we have an opportunity to prepare. We have an opportunity to prepare ourselves, and our communities, to better weather the storm for the changes to come, and be able to tolerate those changes. As community leaders, I’m really, really confident that we will be more resilient to those changes.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story contained errors misidentifying the timeline of the Risk and Resiliency Assessment. It also misstated that there are upcoming CCS studies in 2025. The intention of the community leader training was also clarified. NNSL Media apologizes for the errors and any confusion or embarrassment they may have caused.