Sustainable Strategies for Climate Change Adaptation at the MRC Level: Governance Mechanisms and Resilient Processes

The approach adopted, namely the co-construction of an adaptation strategy at the regional level and the uptake of vulnerability analysis tools by stakeholders, will foster the development of adaptation to climate change and the resilience of the communities concerned.

Project details
Scientific program
2014-2019 programming
Theme(s) and priority(s)
Built Environment
Start and duration
March 2017 - June 2020
Project Status
Principal(s) investigator(s)
Alain Létourneau
Université de Sherbrooke
Isabelle Thomas
Université de Montréal


Extreme climate events appear to be intensifying in the MRC de Memphrémagog. The floods of 2017 left their mark on the region, but they also served as a catalyst for climate change adaptation action at the MRC level. The chosen adaptation strategy is being developed through a participatory governance approach and a shared vulnerability analysis and combines the fields of land use planning and practical philosophy.

The municipalities and the MRC must undertake adaptation together. In a climate context in which the recurrence and violence of natural hazards are on the rise, local governments must not be in a state of perpetual recovery, but instead must adopt a proactive, resilient approach.


Co-construction of a regional climate change adaptation strategy:

  • Provide access to knowledge on the likely consequences of climate change in the Memphrémagog region with a view to adaptation;

  • Provide the MRC and its municipalities with an analysis of the vulnerability of their territory and their communities;

  • Develop governance guidelines and a participatory governance framework for climate change adaptation;

  • Suggest climate change adaptation recommendations that are appropriate and realistic in several areas;

  • Lead to the integration of sustainable practices at different scales and through different mediums (government, books, legislation, training, etc.).


  • Analysis of the approaches, processes and strategies used for adaptation purposes in the Québec municipal context; • Vulnerability analysis based on the Thomas and Bleau method (2012);

  • Multicriteria and qualitative analysis of regulatory tools related to climate change;

  • Analysis of the construction of a participative governance mechanism through participative observation, surveys, semi-structured interviews, etc.;

  • Literature review and collection of complementary information;

  • Series of roundtable discussions (sectoral tables, TRACC 1 and 2, climate cafés);

  • Analysis of all content generated by these activities.


This action research project represents a fundamental initial step in raising awareness about climate change adaptation aimed at developing a common vision within the MRC.


The vulnerability analysis was expressed in the form of maps illustrating social sensitivity index, territorial sensitivity index, and adaptation capacity, separately and in combination. This mapping of total vulnerability at the MRC level (Figure 1) allows municipal and regional decision-makers to make informed decisions related to risk management and climate change adaptation. By displaying both social and territorial dynamics on the same map, the tool makes it possible to target areas that would most benefit from territorial or social development interventions.

The mapping also allows for a multiscale approach to adaptation, from local to regional. The total vulnerability index provides a holistic picture that can be presented in several versions. As shown in Figure 1, the centre of the city of Magog appears to be highly vulnerability to disaster risk.

Figure 1

Figure 1 – Mapping of total vulnerability at the MRC level

The same is true for the southern part of Potton township and for the town of Stanstead. The region west of Lake Memphrémagog has a high vulnerability, while the northern portion of the MRC, specifically Orford township, seems to be in a better position with regard to risk. To the east, the municipality of Ogden appears to have a high total vulnerability. For an MRC, this synthesis tool is a valuable resource in that it offers a uniform methodology with standardized data.

The roundtables and other structured activities served to mobilize stakeholders and thus facilitate the emergence of participatory governance, the framework of which had been established with the decision-makers. These consultations led to the development of recommendations aimed at strengthening institutions’ capacity and resilience through the transfer of knowledge.


The MRC de Memphrémagog’s sustainable land use and development plan (SADD)was in the process of being revised in 2020, the final year of the research project. Some fifteen recommendations were proposed based on five objectives of the SADD. These recommendations focus primarily on three aspects:

  • The development of new approaches in order to facilitate better land use planning and management;

  • The development of new regulatory tools and practices to support climate change adaptation;

  • A better understanding of climate change issues by stakeholders, local actors and citizens.

Benefits for adaptation

Benefits for adaptation

The results of this action research, combined with inventiveness and political will, will help the MRC to effectively review its governance framework and be less affected by the effects and repercussions of climate change.

The knowledge acquired throughout this project represents a first step in the climate change adaptation process for the MRC, its municipalities and the many actors in the region. The joint construction of participatory governance will help them to take a new step leading to the implementation of adaptation solutions.

Scientific publications

Document type
Stratégies durables d’adaptation aux changements climatiques à l’échelle d’une MRC : quels…
Walczak, L., Létourneau, A. et Thomas, I.
Stratégies durables d’adaptation aux changements climatiques à l’échelle d’une MRC : quels…
Walczak, L., Létourneau, A. et Thomas, I.
Adaptation Memphrémagog : projet de recherche-action
Walczak, L., Létourneau, A. et Thomas, I.


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