Rural Community Resilience in a Low-Carbon Future

How can we build near and long-term resilience in rural communities as the world transitions towards a low-carbon future?


Defining the Challenge

The Issue: Community leaders in Alberta are questioning how their communities can participate and thrive in the global energy transition. 

The Opportunity: To help rural Alberta communities generate deeper understanding and engagement around the opportunities and challenges their jurisdictions may face as a result of energy transition. 

Response to the Innovation Challenge: Bringing the combined knowledge, skills and networks of the Energy Futures Lab Fellows into rural municipalities and First Nation communities across Alberta as part of the EFL’s Energy Futures Roadshows program.

Learn More

In order to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy, Canadians need to emerge from the complex, fragmented and divisive debate in which we are currently entrenched. These efforts need to extend beyond public leaders and into communities whose passion, skills and assets have the potential to directly impact greenhouse gas emissions, job creation and energy narratives. By adopting a collaborative, solutions-oriented mindset, we can further enhance the long-term resilience of Alberta communities as they navigate the global energy transition. 

By bringing the combined knowledge, skills and networks of the Energy Futures Lab Fellows into rural municipalities and First Nation communities across Alberta, communities can further explore how to navigate unique opportunities and challenges arising as a result of energy transition and climate change. For example, some rural communities are currently exploring opportunities relating to renewable energy, clean hydrogen, carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS), geothermal, battery materials, and other emerging industries.

This Innovation Challenge focuses on helping position rural communities across Alberta to thrive in the transition to a low-carbon future.

Unlocking the Challenge

Because every community is a little different, we design and deliver workshops that are tailored to a community’s unique needs and capacities. We strive to leave communities with a clear understanding of how they can move from the development of concepts discussed in community workshops to enabling action in their local areas.

This challenge is guided by the following question: How can we build near and long-term resilience in rural communities as the world transitions towards a low-carbon future?

In response to this Innovation Challenge, identified by Energy Futures Lab Fellows and Partners, the EFL is committed to facilitating solutions-oriented experiences for rural communities in Alberta.

Innovation Approach

The Energy Futures Roadshow is one approach to working collaboratively with rural communities in Alberta. Each Roadshow is collaboratively developed with a host community and includes a series of interactive multi-day workshops, featuring a diversity of community members, including businesses, governments, schools, economic and community developers, and the public. With support from the Energy Futures Lab team and Fellowship, workshops mobilize community members and inspire collaborative action on energy transition opportunities. 

Kick-off workshops typically feature a facilitated role-playing simulation that allows players to experience decades of energy transition in one day. This experience, called The Newtonian Shift, helps participants better understand the dynamics of transition and what they mean for their community. During subsequent workshops, communities explore local energy narratives, take stock of their actions, reflect on their learnings and prepare to move initiatives forward. People working on community initiatives are invited to apply to be part of the EFL’s Impact Studio to receive further support from the EFL.

The Energy Futures Lab convenes three Roadshows per year. Energy Futures Roadshows occur yearly and are typically hosted between October and March. The intake process for future Roadshows formally takes place in spring, but our team is continually working with communities to better understand their needs and opportunities.

Communities selected to host 2021 Roadshows:

  • Brooks
  • Growth REDA (Regional Economic Development Association)
  • Rainbow Lake

What We’ve Accomplished

  • Completion of eight Energy Futures Roadshows, including Grande Prairie, Hinton, Devon, Crowsnest Pass, Drayton Valley, Red Deer, Whitecourt, and Athabasca.
  • Initiation and continued development of the e-venture electric vehicle charging network in northwest Alberta to bring tourism and other economic development opportunities to communities in this area.  
  • Hosted regular calls with community leaders from all Roadshow communities to share knowledge and experiences across the province. 

Challenge Partners

This work is made possible thanks to funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Climate Action and Awareness Fund. Their generous contribution will allow us to continue engaging with rural communities across Alberta as the energy transition unfolds.

Next Steps

Applications for the additional Roadshows are currently closed, but will open again in 2022. If you are interested in participating in one of our current Roadshow workshops, please contact Dewly Nelson (contact details below).

If you would like a Roadshow in your community, or for questions or inquiries please contact:


Dewly Nelson
Community Mobilizer, Energy Futures Lab