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Words into Action guidelines: Engaging children and youth in disaster risk reduction and resilience building

Robin Cox and Marsha Wagner

Learning from Dutch innovations to address climate challenges in Canada

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.

Research in Action: The RbD Lab

RRU's ResilienceByDesign research lab is engaging over 50 climate adaptation experts and influencers in a workshop designed to shape new courses focused on building climate adaptation capacity in BC

Inspiring Climate Action Challenge Dialogue Workshop

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)

Disaster Emergency Management Student Awarded CIHR MA Grant

Cari McIntyre, a graduate student in Royal Roads University’s Master of Arts in Disaster and Emergency Management was just awarded a CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarship Masters (CGS-M) award. Cari will be working with supervisor, Dr. Robin Cox, and the ResilienceByDesign Research Lab to examine how civil society organizations and networks might foster collaborative partnerships to support disaster risk reduction (DRR) and enhance disaster resilience. Cari’s research will examine the linkages between the social determinants of health (e.g., housing, food security, access to resources and services) and the determinants of disaster resilience, vulnerability, and risk by working with a community-based health network in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. The project is grounded in a premise that the collective voices of community networks present an opportunity to overcome what has been identified as a lack of citizen engagement and investments in disaster risk reduction.
 
Cari will be working with a community-based health network in the Comox Valley to explore the question: How can a community-based health network influence local-level DRR? The goals of her research are to: (a) use social network analysis (SNA) to measure and convey the strengths, gaps, and opportunities inhered in an existing community network; (b) explore how and in what ways the network’s collaborative capacity and processes can contribute to enhancing community resilience; and (c) support opportunities for knowledge transmission
through workshops designed by the research team to introduce network partners and other stakeholders (e.g. emergency managers, community officials) to the linkages between social determinants of health and disaster risk reduction.
 
Cari’s research is uniquely positioned to build awareness of the connections between underlying vulnerabilities related to the social determinants of health and the drivers of disaster risk and community resilience. Using participatory action research and social network analysis methods, Cari hopes to further understand and convey how place-based vulnerability and resilience data might generate new knowledge to support the network by engaging community partners and stakeholders in the collaborative generation of ideas for local, strengths-based initiatives designed to address current and future capacity gaps and vulnerabilities, while simultaneously contributing to improved health and disaster outcomes.

ResiliencebyDesign Lab Leading $2-million Inspiring Climate Action Project

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.

From Fort McMurray wildfire disater study, RbD Lab project promotes youth ideas on belonging and resilience

On February 21st, more than 50 Wood Buffalo community members and Royal Roads University’s ResiliencebyDesign (RbD) Research Innovation Lab members met to present and discuss findings from the “Youth Voices Rising” project on youth, recovery, and resilience in Fort McMurray, Alberta. The research study occurred in response to the 2016 Horse River wildfire disaster and was supported by the Canadian Red Cross.

Pamela speaks to community members.

The presentation and discussion covered the background of the two-year project, the youths’ ideas for a better community, a focus on how to strengthen youths’ sense of belonging and resilience, and ways to engage youth in the community as the community rebuilds after a wildfire disaster. The findings are showcased in the “Youth Vision and Voices in Wood Buffalo” report: https://resiliencebydesign.com/youthvoiceswb. View the event video at www.facebook.com/ResiliencebyDesignlab/videos/253510002242119 and www.facebook.com/ResiliencebyDesignlab/videos/1166184303576522

Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Mayor Don Scott opened the presentation by sharing his role in the #YouthVoicesWB social media campaign that was part of the Creative Action Research study. He also shared his commitment to including youth voice in decisions that affect them. Youth community member Pamela (age 17) also shared her experience with the YVR project, highlighting how impactful it was to have hers and others concerns and ideas taken seriously by local community members as well as validated by other youth. As Pamela described, “Before I started working with youth voices, I never really knew the power or importance of my voice or the impact that I could have in my community.”

RbD Lab members Dr. Tamara Plush, Dr. Robin Cox, and Ashley Berard then presented on the #YouthVoicesWB campaign, which asked youth to answer the question: “What would you do to make your community better?” Youth answered this through original art pieces, poetry, photos, songs and more. The youth’s ideas focused on five priority areas, including transportation, health and wellbeing, volunteerism, participation and activities, and education. Tamara summarized the research through the lens of two key concepts: belonging and resilience. “Belonging connects to when youth feel valued for who they are or who they want to be. Belonging also includes the places that youth can go to feel safe, brave, supported and connected while navigating their unique roles and responsibilities in their communities,” she said.

Rbd Lab presenters Robin Cox, Tamara Plush, and Ashley Berard.

The focus on resilience was highlighted by the photography show “We are Resilient: We See the Positive” from the Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation youth. This was showcased around the room for community members to view, and can be viewed here: (https://resiliencebydesign.com/indigenous-youth-visualize-community-resilience-post-disaster-through-photography/). To highlight the arts methods and creations that made the YVR project so unique and powerful, Willi Whiston and Genoveve Zepeda-Whiston performed their original YouthVoicesWB song, Change.

Following the presentation portion of the day, the community members attending participated in group discussion. They offered ways their organizations could address the youths’ ideas and concern, strengthen youth belonging and resilience in the community, and how youth could aid in leading in the way towards positive change. The inspiring conversation led into presentations from key community leaders, including an overview of regional community resilience planning by Jody Butz, RMWB Regional Fire Chief and Director of Emergency Management; a presentation by Cecelia Mutch, Executive Director of United Way; and an update by Guy Choquet, Canadian Red Cross Director of Operations Alberta Fire Recovery on Disaster Risk Reduction efforts in Wood Buffalo.

 

ResiliencebyDesign Lab featured by the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships

The ResiliencebyDesign Lab was recently featured in a blog by The Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR). CRFR was established in 2001 as a consortium research centre based at the University of Edinburgh with partners in many Universities and regions. The aims of the Centre are to;

  • Produce high quality, collaborative and inclusive research relevant to key issues in families and relationships.
  • Act as a focal point, and promote and facilitate a network, for all those with an interest in research on families and relationships.
  • Make research more accessible for use by policy makers, practitioners, research participants, academics and the wider public.
  • Enhance the infrastructure to conduct research on families and relationships (http://www.crfr.ac.uk/about/)

 RbD Lab Member Laura Wright is studying as a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh and is a member of CRFR.

Similar to the RbD Lab, CRFR develops a multi-disciplinary approach focusing on areas including childhood, family, environment, consumption, gender-based violence, and health and caring. RbD Lab Member Laura Wright is a PhD Student who is a member of CRFR at the University of Edinburgh researching the role of play-based methodologies in child researchers’ psychosocial wellbeing and meaningful participation. Laura has been engaged in attending seminars with CRFR and supporting a resilience-based seminar series. This connection allowed our organizations to learn more about one another and their recent feature highlights the work the ResiliencebyDesign Lab does.

View the feature blog here:

http://crfrblog.blogspot.com/2019/01/resiliencebydesign-research-innovation.html

Wood Buffalo Youth Share Their Visions for Resilient Communities in a New RbD Lab Report

Pictured above: The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Mayor and Council pose with (center) Brina Cardinal, Mariam Arain and Dr. Tamara Plush from the RbD Lab at RRU for the launch of the Youth Vision and Voice in Wood Buffalo report November 27, 2018.

 

Youth in the Wood Buffalo region have innovative ideas for rebuilding the region back even better after the 2016 Horse River wildfire disaster (aka the Fort McMurray wildfire). In the Youth Vision & Voice in Wood Buffalo report produced by the ResiliencebyDesign Lab at RRU, youth aged 14-24 share their experiences, concerns, and visions for creating vibrant, resilient communities. Read and download the report at https://resiliencebydesign.com/youthvoiceswb/.

The youth ideas cover areas important to them such as transportation, health and wellbeing, volunteerism, activities, and education. The report also promotes key community actions that can support youth, such as engaging them in activities that reduce their risk to future disasters, strengthening youth-adult partnership opportunities, and ensuring activities are inclusive for Wood Buffalo’s diverse youth population across the region.

Mariam Arain, age 15, from Fort McMurray and Brina Cardinal, age 17, from the Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation in Janvier launched Youth Vision and Voice at the Regional Municipality Wood Buffalo Council meeting November 27 in Fort McMurray. Wood Buffalo Mayor Don Scott responded to the youth presentation with recognition and encouragement:  “Thank you for being community champions and champions of this region. I couldn’t be more impressed. I am a huge advocate of getting youth involved in this community and making their voices heard. What you are saying perfectly aligns with what I see for getting youth involved in the future.” The RbD Lab produced the report as part of the Canadian Red Cross funded project Youth Voices Rising: Recovery and Resilience in Wood Buffalo.

The report findings are based on interviews with youth, and a social media campaign youth named “#YouthVoicesWB,” which ran Sept-Oct 2017 and involved multiple social profits, schools, and youth centres across the Wood Buffalo region. The campaign asked youth to answer one question: “What would you do to make your community better?” More than 350 youth responded through photography, poetry, original songs, painting, sticky notes, and other creative means. The youth interviews and social media campaign not only revealed key priority areas for youth in the region, it also provided insight into how adults can better connect youth to decision-making, and why youth engagement is vital for Wood Buffalo’s post-disaster future.

The process of sharing their voice also proved empowering for Wood Buffalo youth and inspired creative paths to move ideas forward. For example, Aishwarya Gurumurthy, a 19-year-old youth from Fort McMurray, worked with the RbD Lab on the project as a Research Assistant, and also created a collage on transportation in answer to the campaign question. She described her experience as collaborative and powerful:

“Seeing that I have taken a step in the right direction and working towards the goal of making a concrete change in the community helped me with my recovery. These experiences made me feel more connected, and my bond with the community grew stronger,” Aishwarya said. “I felt more valuable after having my voice heard, and being recognized for my views, beliefs, and opinions. It is the sense of satisfaction that I have contributed to making my community better that helped me in the wildfire recovery and rebuilding process.”

 

To read or download the report, visit: https://resiliencebydesign.com/youthvoiceswb/

For questions: Dr. Tamara Plush, tamara.plush@resiliencebydesign.ca or Dr. Robin Cox, robin.cox@resiliencebydesign.ca.