The Hon. Jim Prentice, PC, MP
On behalf of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE), I am pleased to forward True North: Adapting Infrastructure to Climate Change in Northern Canada. We believe that the infrastructure upon which all northern peoples depend is facing unprecedented challenges, and there is an urgent need for pre-emptive planning and action.
We congratulate the government on the release of its Northern Strategy, which has come down since the completion of our work for this report. We feel our report fills an important niche for the government in implementing its policy for Northern Canada. Shifting foundations from melting permafrost create huge new design issues for architects, engineers, and planners dealing with roads, pipelines, airports, or wildlife harvesting. We will have to work together to design a new technical and social framework with northerners.
Climate change is moving fastest in Arctic areas, requiring Canada to be a world leader in adaptation practices, more than we had ever contemplated. This will involve the professional expertise of engineers and the building codes used by planners. But above all, it will involve every community adapting to the specific circumstances of its local scene. Some coastal communities are clearly at risk, given rising sea levels and increasingly frequent storm surges.
We believe that our report will strengthen the four pillars of your Canadian Northern Strategy ? sovereignty, social and economic development, environment, and governance. Together we believe that they help to provide a road map for sustainable development in this critical period of change in northern history. We also believe it will provide a valuable opportunity for Canada to meet the needs of all our northern peoples, while at the same time showing real international leadership for the circumpolar North.
The NRTEE has benefitted from its dialogue with northern peoples in the preparation of this report and we hope it will be useful in the plans of federal, territorial, provincial, and Aboriginal governments.