As published on LinkedIn by Charles Brindamour

The Canadian government has made significant strides in their latest commitment to addressing climate change. The “A Healthy Environment and a Health Economy” Plan echoes our perspective at Intact – that a resilient economy requires climate resilience.

Extreme weather is impacting us in the here and now. And the human and economic impact that these extreme events have on communities cannot be understated. While lowering emissions over time is critical, we must also focus our attention on near-term adaptation measures to reduce the impact of severe weather. That’s why I was encouraged to see that the federal government’s plan commits to developing Canada’s first-ever national adaptation strategy. While this is a great start, more effort needs to be directed to building resilience now.

There is a lot that governments can do to build a more resilient society by working together with the insurance industry. Importantly, the plan calls for the development and adoption of increasingly stringent model building codes. Integrating resiliency into building codes is key in this process and approaches are already available. Our partners at the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation have worked with the Standards Council of Canada and CSA Group to develop a standard for flood resilience in new residential communities. There is often the misperception that resiliency is expensive, when in fact it is not. Building right in the first place can protect from financial losses down the road for people, businesses and public institutions.

Nature and natural resources are – and have always been – among Canada’s greatest assets. It is becoming increasingly apparent that these resources can be harnessed as critical infrastructure and leveraged to manage the risks associated with climate change. In the short-term, priority should be given to funding traditional flood mitigation infrastructure, as well as to restoring existing natural infrastructure assets that protect vulnerable communities from extreme weather. Research conducted by the Intact Centre and the Insurance Bureau of Canada tells us that natural infrastructure can reduce flood damages by nearly 40% – protecting biodiversity is an important part of the solution.

For Intact, climate change is embedded in business strategy to help us protect customers and our business. We are heavily invested in research, education and increasing awareness on actions customers and brokers can take to protect themselves. We have a proven track record of protecting North Americans while building sustainable financial performance. And we’ll continue working with all levels of government and making strategic investments in adaptation partners like the Intact Centre on Climate Change Adaptation at the University of Waterloo.

The momentum for adaptation is building. We believe there is an opportunity for government to work with industry to better educate and empower property owners to reduce their own risks – both physically and financially – by taking the steps needed to protect their families and businesses. Canada has the strengths, resources and expertise to turn the climate change challenge into an economic opportunity and build a resilient future.