The youth response to the major climate conference of the year, the COP25 (Conference of Parties) felt very potent. I am experiencing and understanding more of the scale of the climate crisis, as well as the scale of the efforts to manage the crisis.
It was interesting, and admittedly disturbing, to be at COP25 where such important negotiations were happening – somehow the humans at those tables have the power to influence the billions of humans across the globe who were not so lucky to get a seat.
There was a buzz of energy with hundreds of youth united in our cause from all over the world attending and protesting the conference. Dozens of Indigenous youth from all over South America flew on an airplane for the first time, having to come all the way to Spain to defend their forests and waters – a disheartening symbol of South America’s colonial past and how that cloud continues to affect the continent’s present. It is incredibly powerful to witness the weight of the words of the Indigenous peoples of the world, with their unbroken connection to and understanding of the Earth as the source of medicine, sustenance, and life itself.
Despite awareness of global climate change skyrocketing in 2019, people who are most impacted by these changes are still being ignored. The voices of those from small-island nations, the global south, Indigenous Nations, youth, women, and other marginalized people are being silenced, while the agendas of polluting mega-industries continue to be amplified.
The result of COP25 was quite disappointing. Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace, told journalists, “in the 25 years that I have been at every COP, I have never seen the gap bigger between the inside and the outside,” referring to slow movement from politicians inside the conference compared to the swift action being demanded by activists on the outside. Despite such a loud global response to climate change this year, politicians still lack the will to act. Hopefully leading up to the COP26 in Glasgow (November 2020), there will be much more effort to increase overall climate literacy in schools and workplaces. Social movements will continue to grow, awareness will continue to spread, and fossil fuels will – hopefully – remain in the ground. Ultimately, at COP26 we must remain hopeful that politicians will be able to truly represent people and communities, and not just the petro-state and corporate monoliths.
In Madrid I noticed more conversations about the intersectionality of climate change and social injustices. Neoliberalism, colonialism, and sexism are all causes and outcomes of climate change – a negative feedback loop. As a result, we continue to understand climate change as an Indigenous rights issue, as a women’s rights issue, as a class rights issue, and as a human rights issue. The solutions to this problem must go far beyond technological and market-based solutions. We must also reckon with our collective histories in order to secure our future.
At the Social Summit – a gathering that was happening in conjunction with COP 25 – we heard a report from human rights activist and director of War on Want, Asad Rehman. Rehman spoke passionately about what he felt was happening at COP25. The conference was “an argument between who is going to live, and who is going to die”. Negotiations were focused around loss and damage: who gets funding and compensation for the effects of climate change. The US and EU were trying to excuse themselves of any liability and block any support going to the global South. This lack of accountability from the globe’s most powerful economies illustrates one of the greatest hurdles the climate change movement will have to overcome.
Despite all the disappointments of COP25, it was an incredible feeling to be a part of Fridays for Future on November 6th with an awe-inspiring half million people. It does seem that despite the total ‘COP-out’ that happened in Madrid, social movements will continue to grow and gain power, which offers hope.
There are scores and scores of phenomenally intelligent, passionate people working on climate justice. Ultimately, we need to panic, but also remember to breathe. I feel deeply grateful and inspired by my generation. It is a true gift to be among such tirelessly intelligent, resilient and courageous young people who are uniting all over the world.
A recent publication from Lab Director Dr. Robin Cox and co-author Dr. Nirupama Agrwal covers the 150th Commemoration of Canada and the connection to the natural disasters in Canada’s political, cultural, economical, and social landscape. The publication is an introduction to a Natural Hazard’s special issue which covers not only the history of natural disasters in Canada, but the implications and trends to anticipate moving forward.
To read the introduction, click here.
The special issue also features two articles which RbD Lab members have co-authored on. More than a checkbox: engaging youth in disaster risk reduction and resilience in Canada, covers ideas around youth resilience and the need to engage youth in climate change and why this population is not only necessary to have in such conversations, but bring valuable tools and skills to the table.
RbD Lab members also co-authored Assessing Canada’s disaster baselines and projections under the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction: a modeling tool to track progress with lead author Dr. Matt Godsoe. The article discusses the United Nations (UN) Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and describes research that utilizes UN methodology to create baselines and targets for Canada, and the practical implications for the country moving forward, projecting trends to year 2030.
A recent publication from the Engaged Scholar Journal shares articles on engaged scholarship and the arts. The Engaged Scholar Journal is an open source journal so all articles are now available online here.
In the journal, you will find the Rbd Lab’s most recent publication; Hey, Hey, Hey—Listen to What I Gotta Say: Songs Elevate Youth Voice in Alberta Wildfire Disaster Recovery which Dr. Tamara Plush and Dr. Robin Cox co-authored about the #YouthVoicesWB campaign in Wood Buffalo, Alberta. The article overviews the power of song for youth in Wood Buffalo who experienced the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire disaster. Youth-Adult Partnerships are discussed as particularly valuable in empowering youth to share their insights in musical reflections.
As part of the Inspiring Climate Action project, we conducted a survey (which was part of the overarching gap analysis) with members of the participating BC Professional Associations. The survey focused on questions related to their knowledge and understanding of climate change and climate adaptation as well as their sense of the relevance of climate adaptation to their professional practice. We also asked questions related to their interest in continuing professional development (CPD) training and their thoughts on priorities for the focus and style of CPD training in climate adaptation.
This report includes selected results from the Inspiring Climate Action: BC Professionals Adaptation Network survey of 703 members from seven BC professional organizations, conducted in Spring 2019.
Sometimes the biggest issues seem insurmountable on a global scale. Thinking about what each of us can do to cope with and adapt to climate change can be daunting.
That’s where the work of Professor Robin Cox comes in. From the School of Humanitarian Studies, Cox is the director of the Resilience by Design (RbD) lab at Royal Roads University. Cox’s work includes the RbD Innovation Lab’s Inspiring Climate Action Project, which is focused on fostering a professional learning community on climate and resilience.
In mid-August, Cox joined Dutch Consul-General Henk Snoeken to welcome Netherlands energy and climate consultant Marsha Wagner to a roundtable discussion with BC climate adaptation experts. The discussion explored innovative ways to involve working professionals in climate change action. Read the full article on Royal Roads University website.
The ResilienceByDesign (RbD) Research Lab’s Inspiring Climate Action initiative, funded by Natural Resources Canada and BC Climate Action Secretariat, launches its stakeholder engagement workshop. The workshop this coming Tuesday, June 11th in Vancouver, will bring together over 50 climate change adaptation influencers from across BC. Included are climate adaptation experts, professionals working in a range of disciplines (i.e., engineers, landscape architects, municipal planners, foresters, biologists, agrologists, and technicians) and representatives from 7 BC post secondary institutions. The goal of the multi-year project is to build capacity for climate adaptation in BC through professional development and knowledge mobilization. Workshop participants will collaborate with the RbD team to identify priorities for 15 new not-for-credit courses to be offered province-wide through the Continuing Studies departments of the participating post secondary institutions. Members of the RbD recently returned from the 4th European Climate Changes Adaptation Conference, ECCA 2019, which hosted more than 1100 participants from 50 countries in dialogue and presentations about the climate crises. The size and diversity of the conference speak to the urgency of the issue and the need for research and action to simultaneously reduce carbon emissions, adapt to the changes already underway, and engage in future thinking in order to prepare for and mitigate the potentially catastrophic changes to come. The Inspiring Climate Action project is responding to the reality that the climate crisis affects all sectors of society. It is informed by international, national, provincial and municipal policy frameworks and actions all focused on reducing disaster and climate risks and vulnerabilities. The collaboration of post-secondary institutions, led by RRU, is utilizing the human and social capital building potential of educational institutions. The project hopes to contribute in a small but meaningful way to our shared resilience by heightening awareness; increasing the use of climate-informed risk assessments, planning and decision-making processes; contributing to the design and implementation of low-carbon resilience building strategies; and improved information and knowledge sharing. Together with our partners and funders, we hope to increase our collective resilience in the face of this daunting and complex emergency.Whole Logic Model (60 x 20 inches)
The RbD Lab wants to share with you these two Kitsumkalum Youth videos which address climate change in unique and creative ways. The Getting Ready video is a powerful music video produced with Kitsamkalum youth. The longer, From Glaciers to Glass Sponge Reefs, is very informative about the impact of climate change on their traditional lands.