Posts Tagged ‘Climate Research’
The most recent meeting of the UNFCCC at COP 18 meeting in Doha saw the premiere of Neko Harbour Entertainment Inc’s third edition of the Youth Climate Report (YCR). Producers Mark Terry and John Kelly premiered the film for representatives of the United Nations, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other delegates at the Doha Round of climate change negotiations.
The production included interviews with senior researchers and students from around the world, including researchers and students from York University. The project showcases the latest climate change research and discoveries made by scientists from around the world. The four interviews with researchers and students from York University represented one of only two submissions from a Canadian university.
This edition of YCR included interviews with Dr. Ellie Perkins (Faculty of Environmental Studies(FES)), Dr. Kaz Higuchi (Faculty of Environmental Studies(FES)) & Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (Geography)), Dr. Richard Bello (Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (Geography)), and Dr. Gregory Thiemann (Faculty of Environmental Studies(FES)). Students from a variety of faculties participated as the interviewers including, Sindy Singh (FES), Shishir Handa (LAPS – Geography), Masao Absinthe (LAPS – Geography) and Kristina Delidjakova (LAPS – Geography).
The film included submissions from four other countries including the United States, Cameroon, Sudan and Singapore and has been screened daily at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) symposium since the beginning of the negotiations. This project was coordinated by CC-RAI, a partnership between York University and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). TRCA and York University are currently leading the development of the Ontario Regional Climate Change Consortium with support from other Ontario universities.
Many thanks to the students and faculty that participated in this project as well as the Faculty of Environment Studies, our partner on this project. The Ontario Regional Climate Change Consortium (ORCCC) aims to equip public and private sector decision makers with regionally-specific climate data, intelligence and adaptation services that enable effective policy and investment responses to climate risk in Ontario. The ORCCC initiative has been led by the TRCA and York University. For additional information contact Program and Communications Manager, Stewart Dutfield at email@example.com.
Youth Climate Report is produced by Neko Harbour Entertainment Inc., a documentary and media production company based in Toronto, Canada. To date, the company has produced two documentaries — The Antarctica Challenge: A Global Warning and The Polar Explorer — that have brought the science of climate change to audiences worldwide. The current project showcases the latest climate change research and discoveries made by scientists from around the world. The United Nations had also invited Neko Harbour Entertainment Inc. to screen the film at the United Nations in New York City.
CC-RAI is proud to share our report on the acitvities of two climate change working groups, one focused on climate change literacy and the other on interdisciplinary collaboration and capacity building for research and action on climate change. CC-RAI would like to acknowledge the support of the office for Research and Innovation as well as the many faculty and students who participated as members of our climate change working groups.
Despite existing commitments, a broad array of faculty and students chose to take part in this pilot project. They have included faculty and students from the Faculty of Science and Engineering (Atmospheric Sciences and Chemistry), the Faculty of Environmental Studies, the Department of Geography, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Laboratory of Mathematical and Parallel Systems (LAMPS), the School of Information Technology, and the School of Administrative Studies. We would also like to thank members from Learning for Sustainable Futures (LSF) and Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS) for taking part in this initiative.
One of the working groups focused on developing a draft climate change literacy toolkit which addresses a broad range of topics – from an overview of climate change and extreme weather to a discussion of climate change adaptation and the perception of climate change in the media. The current draft of the toolkit represents a working compilation of submissions by the working group. The next revision of the toolkit will focus on harmonizing the various voices of the authors and cohesively improving the overall quality and readability of the material presented. At a recent meeting of the working group the decision was also made to revise the current draft as a resource for teachers wishing to discuss climate change with their students. Subsequent versions for parents and students would be another option. Additional details on this discussion are provided in the workshop report section of the report. Moreover, the revised sections of the text will be incorporated into the online component of the project – a dedicated Tumblr blog entitled Collaborating for Climate Change Literacy.
With respect to the interdiscplinary collaboration project, between December and mid-February, an on-line survey was distributed to faculty and graduate students engaged in climate change research. Research Officers and Associate Deans of Research helped to publicize the questionnaire and encourage responses from their faculty. At the same time, CC-RAI contacted researchers from its existing database to complete the survey. Once the data were collected and analyzed, computer programs have been developed to identify connections among participants and summary reports were prepared pertaining to the project. A preliminary network of researchers with interests in climate change research was created to determine the connections and potential for collaboration between researchers. The next interation of the project will focus on bringing faculty and researchers together to work on joint climate change research initiatives in both the social and natural sciences.
If you would like to know more about these projects or take part in one of the working groups we would be glad to hear from you. The current phase of the project has led to a range of potential follow-up projects, CC-RAI will keep you posted. Once again we would like to thanks those individuals who took part in the project to date.
Interdisciplinary Collaboration Working Group: Marina Erechtchoukova (Co-chair, School of Information Technology, LAPS), Rachel Hirsch (Co-chair, Faculty of Environmental Studies, Post-Doctoral Fellow), Susan Chalmers (Faculty of Environmental Studies, CC-RAI Graduate Assistant), Jessica Notwell (Faculty of Environmental Studies, CC-RAI Graduate Assistant), Osama Askoura (International Work Study Student)
Climate Literacy Working Group: Rick Bello (LAPS – Geography), Shishir Handa (Co-chair, LAPS – Geography), Monica Vaswani (Co-chair, LAPS – Geography), Georges Monette (Math & Stats), Walter Whiteley (Math & Stats, Education), Hassan Qudrat-Ullah (LAPS – School of Administrative Studies), Masao Ashtine (Faculty of Environmental Studies), Kristina Delidjakova (LAPS – Geography), Bernhard Isopp (Science and Technology Studies), Matthew MacLean (Faculty of Environmental Studies), Jennet Poffenroth (Faculty of Environmental Studies), Aaron Saad (Faculty of Environmental Studies), Diego Alejandro Sotomayor (LAPS – Geography), Janine Baijnath (University of Waterloo), Amit Lahiri (Centennial College, MES Alumni), Christina Wong (University of Toronto).
Extreme wind, public health, the Ontario wine industry, renewable energy, polar bears, land cover changes, South American ecology, the Clean Development Mechanism, West Nile Virus, art and design. What do all of these research topics have in common? Climate change. On November 24th, CC-RAI hosted it first annual 7&7 Graduate Climate Change Research Symposium and Mixer at York University.
As one of the final events of a SSHRC public outreach grant, CC-RAI and Knowledge Mobilization brought together students from universities across the province, including Brock University, the University of Toronto, the University of McMaster, the University of Waterloo, and York University among others. In total, 16 graduate researchers from across the province presented their research to other students, academics and members of the private and public sector. This diverse array of students highlighted an incredible range of research with direct relevance to Ontario’s socioeconomic and environmental future, not to mention a range of global issues. Whether it was the issue of extreme weather, the complexities of the clean development mechanism, the minutia of renewable energy regulation or climate changes impact on Ontario’s 1 billion dollar wine industry – the message was clear – there is no shortage of problems to study and a lot of unanswered questions to address.
Supporting the development of highly qualified personnel (HQP) in the sciences and social sciences with a focus on climate change is critical to maintaining, retaining and developing Ontario’s next generation of talented scientists, researchers and professionals. Another important aspect to this work involves building a network of climate savvy professionals to support such development. We look forward to hosting a second 7&7 Symposium next fall. A complete list of presenters and their research interests can be found online. A complete listing of presentation slides will also be made available shortly.
CC-RAI would also like to thank Green Venture and Green Air Hamilton for allowing us to showcase posters designed by high school students aimed at highlighting some of the challenges posed by a changing climate. We would also like to thank Kobo for generously donating Kobo e-readers as prizes for graduate student presenters and audience members. This one-day event was made possible with the generous funding of SSHRC, the Knowledge Mobilization Unit and CC-RAI. Other activities associated with this project have included the placement of six SSHRC interns in policy partner organizations across the GTA.
Stuart Schoenfeld, a sociologist and researcher with an appreciation for the global complexities of a changing environment and an interest in the local dynamics of the immediate environment a lot closer to home or rather work - the Glendon campus. Professor Schoenfield explores his interdisciplinary interests in a changing environment at home and abroad in CC-RAI’s new researcher guest blog.
Living here and having research interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, I’ve wondered how these different dimensions of my environmentalism come together. The differences are apparent. The Eastern Mediterranean is one of the world’s high profile, protracted conflict zones and Ontario is one of the world’s most peaceful places. The Eastern Mediterranean is geographically compact, with limited natural resources while Ontario is favored with large territory rich in resources.
Yet while these differences matter, the similarities are there too when we compare what is happening with climate change in both places. I co-manage a blog, “Environment and Climate in the Middle East,” which posts two to three times a week a review of environmental news, publications and conferences on environmentalism in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In the news reports, academic research and policy papers about environmental challenges in this
region, there is continual concern over water and energy management. Water and energy policy are
similarly high profile in Ontario. In the Eastern Mediterranean these high profile issues interact with
other environmental issues such as biodiversity, pollution, land use planning, transportation policy,
agricultural policy, sustainable development, and environmental justice, just as they interact in Ontario.
As well, in both settings, there is a similar challenge of making environmental issues public priorities. Other concerns, economic and political, crowd off the public agenda the urgent need to mitigate climate change and to adapt to what is already happening. In both settings, the impulse to deny or downplay the severe impacts of climate change and the retreat of news into infotainment are also barriers to effective action.
My research has focused on projects that work to build regional environmental cooperation as a response to a shared severe environmental challenge. Groups like the Friends of the Earth Middle East and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies have taken on the politically difficult task of fostering Palestinian-Israeli-Jordanian environmental cooperation. I’ve been interested in how these initiatives persevere despite the hostile climate of regional politics. The Eastern Mediterranean is also included in other projects of regional environmental cooperation. The EU sponsored Mediterranean Union has put the shared environmental challenge on its agenda; the Arab Forum for Environment and Development develops an environmental perspective on the broad region from Iraq to Morocco. Here too are similarities (but obviously not equivalencies) to the agenda for Ontario, as researching and responding to the threat of climate change necessitates cross-border coordination of multiple government, business and civil society stakeholders.
How do we work with other provinces and the federal government? With the U.S. borders states below us and the U.S. federal government? What kinds of joint research are possible? What are the venues for joint environmental policy? In the Eastern Mediterranean, regional environmentalists say, “Nature knows no borders.” The same holds true here.
This past year, I’ve also developed a small project on my immediate work environment – the Glendon campus with support from IRIS. A bit over a year ago, I helped the Toronto Field Naturalists prepare a walking tour of Glendon. Through that experience I learned to see the campus I had enjoyed but taken for granted with new eyes. With York alumnus John Court and two research assistants, we’ve built a detailed website on how the Glendon campus came to be a unique botanical garden, the historical significance of the Wood family estate on which the campus resides, and the role of the Glendon forest in the Don Valley ravine system. The website is a contribution to seeing the global in the local, and to cultivating the awareness of the role universities campuses can play in the important agenda of urban environmentalism.
SSHRC Internships: Sarah Applebaum developing the business case for climate change adaptation at Toronto Environment Office
As an MBA student specializing in Sustainability at the Schulich School of Business at York University I jumped at the chance to work with the Toronto Environment Office (TEO) for the summer. The initial draw of the position was the opportunity to develop a business case for climate change adaptation activities at the City. As my internship progressed, priorities within the office have shifted and new projects arose.
Through a partnership with The Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance, we convened a multi-stakeholder meeting involving infrastructure providers, utilities, the private sector, academics, and representatives from the three orders of government. The aim of this meeting was to gauge interest in the formation of a Toronto Region Action Group to discuss resilience to extreme weather. This is an initiative that is moving forward, with the first meeting of the action group scheduled for late September.
It is an extremely interesting time to be working for the municipal government, and Toronto Environment Office. Last week, the Core Service Review, conducted by KPMG, recommended that the City undertake a number of changes and reductions in its environmental protection and improvement activities to help the city realize cost savings and close the deficit gap.
Political leanings and ideology aside, this is a great example of how our government works and the democratic process. On Thursday July 21, the public is invited to provide deputations (in person or written) expressing their opinion about these proposed reductions.
With a focus in both sustainability and organizational change, I am very interested in the outcomes of this process. How will the vision, mission, and activities of the Toronto Environment Office evolve? How will these changes be communicated not only to TEO staff, but within city hall and to the general public? How will the key decision makers obtain buy in from key stakeholders?
About the Graduate Student: Sarah is an MBA Candidate (2012) at the Schulich School of Business with a focus on Sustainability and Organizational Change. She holds a Bachelor degree in Environmental Science and International Development Studies from Dalhousie University. Sarah is an active student leader within the Schulich Community. She is President of the Schulich Chapter of Net Impact (an international organization focused on socially responsible business issues), executive member of the planning committee for the Inaugural Schulich International Case Competition, and is a consultant with the York Sustainable Enterprise Consultants. After completion of the MBA, Sarah plans to work with organizations to embed sustainability principles into their business models and strategic plans.
Since February of 2010, CC-RAI has been working with universities, as well as private and private sector organizations across the province to develop a pan-Ontario climate science, research and services initiative. In October of 2010, an Ad Hoc Committee was formed to address the need for Ontario focused climate science services. Since then, the Committee has met at various universities across the province. Most recently we hosted a workshop at OCAD University focused on identifying climate research and service needs for stakeholders in Ontario. After months of consultation, CC-RAI is pleased to present the Ontario Regional Climate Change Consortium (ORCCC) Strategy.
The Strategy outlines an approach to developing and enhancing capacity within Ontario to deliver cutting-edge climate research and modelling expertise to a wide array of end-users. Recognizing that not one organization or university has the capacity to provide the wide variety of information, data and expertise required – a collaborative approach to action took hold. The Strategy outlines an approach to mobilizing existing research around climate change in Ontario with an aim to strengthen opportunities for new research and scholarship.
If you are interested in learning more about the ORCCC please contact CC-RAI!
On Monday May 30, CCRAI and OCAD University hosted a one day workshop – “Climate Change: A Dialogue with Stakeholders” – in support of the Ontario Regional Climate Change Consortium (ORCCC). The event was attended by over forty participants from the all levels of government, conservation authorities, the private sector, and nonprofit organizations. Having had the opportunity to collate and synthesize the sizable amount of information and feedback we received on the day we are pleased to present the Dialogue with Stakeholders report.
CC-RAI would like to once again thank our participants from the academic, government and private sector. Many thanks to Jack McConnell (York University), Claude Duguay (University of Waterloo) and Dick Peltier (University of Toronto) for their presentations on regional climate modelling in Ontario. The presentations will be posted shortly.
We would also like to thank Peter Jones (Design with Dialogue), Nabil Harfoush (Manara), visual facilitator Particia Kambitsch, Ciara de Jong at the City of Toronto’s Environment Office, Carl Knipfel and Doreen Balabanoff from OCAD University as well as York University and TRCA.
On March 1st, York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit and the Climate Consortium for Research Action Integration (CC-RAI) co-hosted the York University Climate Change Policy & Research Day. This was the biggest event held so far as part of the Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change project. The event brought together policy partners from across the Greater Toronto Area, as well as faculty and students for a dialogue on research issues around climate change.
The event provided an excellent opportunity for students to speak with policy makers, planners and other practitioners focused on addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation issues in the Greater Toronto Area. Recognizing the need to develop the next generation of ‘climate savvy’ professionals the afternoon session allowed students to meet policy partners to discuss opportunities for summer internships.
Watch this space for to learn more about those internships and students currently involved.
Ultimately, the event demonstrated the value of seeking far greater research collaboration between researchers and policy makers to tackle climate change with the urgency it deserves. But, don’t take my word for, why don’t you hear what our participants had to say.
CC-RAI would like to thank the Knowledge Mobilization Unit and SSHRC for supporting this important program.
On March 1st, York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit and the Climate Consortium for Research Action Integration (CC-RAI) co-hosted the York University Climate Change Policy & Research Day. This was the biggest event held so far as part of the Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change project. The event demonstrated the value of seeking far greater research collaboration between researchers and policy makers to tackle climate change with the urgency it deserves.
We were fortunate to have as our chair Karen Kraft Sloan, Special Advisor on the Environment to the Vice President Research and Innovation, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies and Canada’s former Ambassador on the Environment.
This event brought together 3 distinct groups:
- policy staff from local and regional governments and community organizations from City of Toronto, the Region of Durham, the Region of Peel, Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), the Association for Canadian Education Resources (ACER); and York Region;
- researchers from York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) Peter Victor, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LAPS) Ali Asgary, Richard Bello, David Etkin, as well as Science & Engineering (FSE) Huaiping Zhu;
- graduate students from across various academic disciplines
In the morning, an audience of York graduate students and faculty as well as other invited policy staff observed an open forum between policy staff and researchers. The policy makers presented on climate change issues they face, shared adaptation strategies, and identified areas where they need expert opinions and more research. York’s professors responded with their ideas and presented their latest research on climate change impacts and adaptation.
Researchers and policy makers came together to address research gaps and explore potential research collaborations. For instance, the City of Toronto sought opinions on the best way to build a business case for adaptation to climate change while the Region of Peel was interested in working with York’s professors to develop a regional database of environmental statistics and economic data to help them in their decision making. The researchers, many of whom advise national governments on best practices for mitigating and adapting to climate change, were excited by the prospect of working with local policy makers towards home-grown solutions.
“It was really good for me personally to know the people who are working in this area and [I] would welcome any opportunity to collaborate with them in this very important line of research” said Ali Asgary, who is the Graduate Program Director of the York MA program in Disaster & Emergency Management.
Collaborations like this are key to getting Canada as a whole to achieve fair, ambitious, and binding carbon emissions reductions. “I enjoyed the panel discussions … the interaction between the academic/research perspective and the policy participants’ viewpoint was very interesting” said Nancy Rutherford who is the Principal Planner in the Policy Planning Branch at the Region of Durham.
York graduate students greatly enjoyed the lively panel. “I very much enjoyed the presentation. I gained a lot of valuable information” said Maryum Sherazi, a Masters of Environmental Studies (MES) student at York University. “I also enjoyed getting insights on the relationship between the policy makers and the researchers”.
Students and policy makers mingled in the afternoon session, which emphasized career pathing. “It was a valuable chance to meet senior policy makers who are doing such important work on climate change,” said Erica Stahl, a candidate in the joint MES/JD program at York University studying climate change and social justice. “Sometimes you forget that you can turn your passion into a career, and that your job can help make the world a better place. This event got me inspired again.” Everyone involved expressed their desire to build on the relationships forged at this event. “[It was] inspiring to meet [a] group working together towards greatest impact [on this issue]” wrote one participant in their evaluation form for the event.
The Knowledge Mobilization Unit worked with the organizations represented on the panel to profile a competition for five paid summer internships at the City of Toronto, the Region of Durham, Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), the Association for Canadian Education Resources (ACER); and York Region.
CC-RAI would like to thanks our policy partners for taking part as well as York faculty.
In the fall of 2011, the Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change Project will host its Research Forum. This event will build on the successes of the Policy and Research Day and profile the student interns who will have completed their placements with our policy partners. March 1st was just the beginning.
This event also had a social media presence. It was live tweeted by a number of our participants with the hashtag #KMbCC. For a full transcript of the tweets, please see here. Gary Myers, Digital Researcher at York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit also wrote about the event on his blog, KMbeing. You may read Gary’s post by clicking here.