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.
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.
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.
Professionals in BC who care for the province’s infrastructure and resources are preparing for climate change’s consequences, but what further training do they need to meet the challenge?
A $2-million project, led by the ResiliencebyDesign (RbD) Lab and including a range of BC professionals and post-secondary institutions, will explore those needs and design training to address them, thanks to funding from Natural Resources Canada’s Building Regional Adaptation Capacity and Expertise (BRACE) program. BRACE is working with provinces to support training activities that increase the ability of organizations, professionals, businesses and communities to adapt and accelerate their climate resilience.
Inspiring Climate Action: BC Professionals Adaptation Network is a partnership between the RbD Lab and the BC Climate Action Secretariat, with the BRACE program committing almost $1 million to the project.
Working with six BC universities and six BC professional associations, the network will deliver in-person and online courses custom-made to professionals’ training needs.
“We need to make BC and Canada as resilient as possible to the impacts of climate change even as we continue to work to reduce those risks through mitigation efforts,” says School of Humanitarian Studies Prof. Robin Cox, project lead and director of the RbD Lab. “Professional organizations in BC have made it clear they are committed to ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also building the necessary capacity to effectively adapt to the unavoidable risks posed by the changing climate. This project will discover where specific knowledge and skills gaps exist, and design practical training to help professionals meet these challenges and increase regional adaptation uptake and capacity.”
“Canadians know that we need to improve Canada’s resilience to climate change. That is why we are supporting Royal Roads University’s Inspiring Climate Action: BC Professionals Adaptation Network project,” says Minister of Natural Resources Amarjeet Sohi. “Through professional training, this project will support the efforts of B.C.’s professionals to adapt to the impacts of climate change.”
“Certified professionals are making project decisions every day that will be affected by climate risks. It’s important these professionals have the knowledge and tools to be able to advise about climate risks with confidence,” said Dr. Johanna Wolf on behalf of the Climate Risk Management team at the Province of BC’s Climate Action Secretariat. “The courses we’re helping develop will be offered through various post-secondary institutions, and will better equip professionals to manage risks associated with our changing climate.”
“The work of the RbD Lab, and in particular this latest climate change adaptation project, is a perfect example of the dynamism of thought and action displayed by the researchers at Royal Roads University,” says Royal Roads University President Dr. Philip Steenkamp. “Royal Roads’ researchers like Dr. Cox and her team are committed to discovering, exploring and sharing evidence-based information that can be applied to solve real-world problems.”
Participating universities include Royal Roads University, the University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University, Capilano University, Vancouver Island University and University of Northern BC.
Professional organizations supporting the network project include the BC Institute of Agrologists, Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC, College of Applied Biology, Engineers and Geoscientists BC, Planning Institute of BC and British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects.
Climate change organizations and experts in BC, Canada and worldwide support the network project, including: international climate change expert and former deputy executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Richard Kinley; the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium; the Stockholm Environment Institute; and Student Energy.