Knowledge Synthesis

Youth in nature-small

This SSHRC-funded Knowledge Synthesis project is examining existing literature from 2005-2016 that is related to the impacts/effects of energy systems [(oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar) exploration, production, processing, and transportation, etc.] specifically related to children and youth.

The synthesis critically analyzed and organized the research through a social ecological lens, identify strengths, links, and gaps, across social/ human health/ geographic/ psychological/ cultural spiritual/ political/economic etc. topic areas.

The research explored how children and youth are engaged in decisions that affect them about the energy systems and about key issues such as climate change. Opportunities for child and youth to influence or engage in and decision-making are discussed in a Canadian and international context, to help determine how Canada can play a leadership role globally.

The future of energy resource extraction, especially carbon-intensive options such as natural gas and oil, present a major challenge for global economic and social sustainability. However, with the recognition that carbon-based resource extraction and use results in emissions that contribute to climate change, many economies – including Canada’s – are in the midst of transitioning to forms of low-carbon good and services based economies (LCGS). In the transition to a LCGS economy, children and youth emerge as a critical population group. Children, youth and the communities they are situated in, are impacted by energy resource extraction, production, and consumption and their resilience and that of their communities in the face of the transition to LCGS is a critical component of Canada’s future. Children and youth are also a largely untapped resource when it comes to leading and innovating Canada’s energy transformation. They are noticeably absent from energy planning and policy, and from energy systems impacts analysis and national and international sustainable energy development plans. There is no coherent analysis of the state of knowledge regarding the social dimensions of energy systems, their impact on children and youth, and the role (current and future) that children and youth might play in the transition to LCGS economies. The ResiliencebyDesign (RbD) Lab at Royal Roads University (RRU) and the Resilience Research Centre (RRC) at Dalhousie University are collaborating in this SSHRC Knowledge Synthesis Grant to conduct a systematic interdisciplinary review and synthesis (i.e., using a critical interpretive analysis) of extant social science and behavioural science research on this topic. Specifically, we analyzed the current landscape of knowledge regarding the impacts of energy systems (extraction, production and consumption) on children and youth well-being and community resilience. The synthesis also examined research on strategies for engaging and empowering children and youth as leaders, innovators, and change makers in the global energy transition. From this, we developd a framework that will be used to make concrete recommendations for policy makers and practitioners, as well as inform future research in the area. The research resulted in a detailed report, peer reviewed articles, lay summaries, and digital narratives that, taken together, promoted dialogue among youth, government, industry, and other stakeholders.

Related links

Related publications

See below for link to full publication:

Irwin, P., Cox, R.S., Scannell, L., Fletcher, S., Dixon Bennett, T., Heykoop, C., and Ungar, M. (2016). Children and Youth’s Biopsychosocial Health in the context of Energy Resource Activities. Knowledge Synthesis Report produced for Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.