Project Background

In March 2021, a group of individuals and organizations working in climate change and income security received funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Climate Action and Awareness Fund to organize a series of community conversations on the topic of Livelihoods, Incomes and Community Resilience for a Net-Zero Canada. The project is designed to:

  • Explore and document the links between community resilience, income security and the shift to a low-carbon economy through a series of 25 to 35 conversations facilitated by local community partners;
  • Get community perspectives on the ways in which income security policies (like a basic income) can help build resilience and encourage local action on all the aspects of the climate crisis—from the response to local climate impacts to the transition out of fossil fuel employment;
  • Build conversation and understanding across the climate and energy, income security and labour communities, and with those who are too often left out of policy discussions and decisions;
  • Serve as a starting point for local advocacy, collaboration and next steps.

Community resilience—understood here as a community’s ability to meet, respond to and recover from major challenges like the ones brought on by climate change—is an essential part of any plan to bring greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050

Today, community resilience in Canada is under threat in many different ways: from fossil fuel workers worried about job losses; to farmers facing drought, uncertain markets and local depopulation; to communities experiencing poverty, systemic racism, heat waves, wildfires, flooding and more. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that we won’t be able to meaningfully or sustainably confront any of the large, urgent challenges we face without addressing all of them together.

Just as community resilience is closely tied to climate change, income security is essential to building strong, healthy communities with the tools they need to take action on all aspects of the climate crisis. But to date there has been little coordinated effort to ground responses to climate change in resilient communities, supported by adequate incomes and services that make it possible for people to embrace social and environmental transition.

That changes now.

Much of Canada’s transition work to date has focused on fossil fuel communities. But a shift to net-zero by 2050 means big changes for all of us—in the ways we live, work, learn, play and consume. That transition will only be possible with policies that ease anxieties spurred by major change, particularly change that carries any risk of economic insecurity.

Public opinion polls show strong support for action on both climate change and income insecurity. The Green Resilience Project seeks to learn how policies in these two areas can support each other at the local level. By engaging with locally based community partners, we hope to document diverse viewpoints from a wide range of lived experience, find strategies that take conversation beyond the silos of climate change and income security advocacy and share points of common ground with a wider public audience.

Across communities and regions, we hope to learn about how the shift away from fossil fuels can be about opportunity and gain, not just loss and pain, by talking our way through two equal and opposite points: 

  • That the right income security plan can ease fear and uncertainty around the shift away from the fossil fuel economy;
  • That a low-carbon economy creates the jobs and local self-reliance that income security is meant to support and supplement.

Here’s how we’ll get this done.

After each conversation, or listening session, our community partners will create short summary reports highlighting key points from their conversations. These summaries will be a crucial resource for final project reporting, as well as a roadmap that communities can use in future advocacy efforts related to low-carbon transition and income security.

At the end of the project, we’ll create a discussion paper that draws on local community reports to connect the dots between community resilience, income security and low-carbon economies.

We’ll be working with a network of community partners who are already involved in some aspect of the discussion and have the capacity to carry on with their advocacy after their sessions are complete. Project funding is available to assist partners in organizing their sessions. (For more information on this, see our FAQ for Community Partners).

Our staff team will offer communications and administrative support to community partners, and host an online forum to keep them connected with each other and share lessons learned in the course of the project.

For more information about the links between income security and climate action, check out our news and resources page, follow us on Twitter or Instagram or subscribe to our newsletter for occasional updates about our work.