Unerstanding Adaptation Science

Adaptation initiatives in Quebec have grown in number in recent years. They address a number of issues related notably to forestry, mining, energy and agriculture, and concern a range of environments throughout Quebec including northern, maritime, urban and rural settings.  Other initiatives also revolve around the eight adaptation priorities identified in Ouranos’s program for 2020-2025.


8 Adaptation Priorities

Programming will revolve around eight highly inter-related adaptation priorities while considering social, environmental, economic and built environment dimensions: Quebec’s economy, energy security, water availability, food systems, social and health challenges, extreme events, living environments, governance.



Generally speaking, both in Quebec and around the world, adaptation has often been planned in an “incremental” manner, i.e. by making adjustments while preserving the essence and integrity of a system or process at a given scale. However, faced with the growing magnitude of climate change impacts, the IPCC suggests that we rethink the way we adapt by opting for “transformational” approaches, as opposed to the incremental approaches that have hitherto been the norm. For certain issues in Quebec, this transition seems to be already underway.

For example, in coastal areas, it is no longer envisaged to resort solely to protective structures to address current impacts as well as  short-term erosion and coastal flooding risks. Long-term land development is undergoing a rethink, notably with regard to building structures farther inland. In the years to come, it is expected that this transition from incremental measures to transformational measures will continue in order to take better account of the long-term evolution of the climate and its impacts on natural and human systems.

Example of incremental and transformational approach in coastal zones:

Figure 1

Schematic representation of protection, adaptation and retreat responses in the context of rising sea levels. 


Coastal protection and remediation, Percé

Following several consultations and a cost-benefit analysis conducted by Ouranos on solutions to sustainably protect tourism infrastructure along the coast and in town, a section of beach over 1 km long was redesigned in 2017.  The initiative consisted of a new boardwalk and other installations of recreational nature to give the downtown area a “facelift” while preserving, if not improving, the area’s tourist appeal.

Learn more

button back to top