Organizers Mig Alphonso and Joanna Ashworth stand behind panelists Laura Parisi, Zabrina Brumme, June Francis, Mark Roseland, and Kareen Wong.

At the Nexus of Climate Change and Sustainable Development: Bringing the Global Agenda Home

On Thursday February 11, the SFU's Faculty of Environment, BC Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC)SFU's Development and Sustainability Program, and SFU International co-hosted a community event to recognized International Development Week 2016 that invited members of the international development and sustainability community to join in a conversation on what the new global goals (UN Sustainable Development Goals) can do to generate opportunities for poverty reduction, inclusive economic development, health, women's participation, and collaboration. The panelist infused the conversation with specific details of their research and engagement work.


Kareen Wong, Communications Officer from BCCIC highlighted the universality and intersectionality of the SDGs and the importance of dialogue about the goals to encourage systems thinking in international development.     

Mark Roseland, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Community Development and Professor in the Resource and Environmental Management Program at SFU's Faculty of Environment shared a timely video animation that explains the Global Goals and what they mean for everyday people - view video. Following this overview, Mark focused on cities and how both the goals to tackle climate change and sustainable development are interwoven. When cities are designed with smart transportation, renewable energy, and social inclusion in mind this reflects the real value of the SDGs. Sustainability thinking and planning has been around for the last 30+ years, but the COP21 and the SDGs make it necessary for systems thinking and action more explicit and renews the public conversation. Mark is the founder of a collaborative network for sustainability researchers and practitioners.

June Francis, Associate Professor in SFU’s Beedie School of Business and Director of the Development and Sustainability Program reminded us that the Goals announce the end of business as usual for the private and public sectors. June shared her work in Peru with the Canadian International Resource Development Institute that focuses on inclusive economic development practices for natural resources communities. She highlighted the importance of meaningful engagement of communities in the decisions that effect their lives and livelihoods, including consent, capacity building, and community impact. She noted, "people may not have education, but they have capacity" in terms of local knowledge and a commitment to act.

Zabrina Brumme, Associate Professor in SFU's Faculty of Health Sciences shared her experience and observations of a joint Canada-Africa research and training networks in Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically focused on HIV research that she and her SFU regional partners have been involved in. She pointed to the power of networks, mentoring and funding to develop the next generation of researchers so very needed in this region.

Laura Parisi, Associate Professor in the Department of Women's Studies at the University of Victoria focused on gender equality and best practices for building long-term sustainability in human and gender rights. Laura highlighted the serious under-funding and support for women's organizations globally and the devastating decline in core-funding experienced by civil society organizations concerned with human and gender rights. She noted that the impacts of climate change are experienced differently for men and women due to culturally constructed roles such as water collection, child care, access to sanitation, land rights, and education; she made the case for the SDGs and climate change targets to be more clearly connected to human rights. 

The lively questions and dialogue that followed with almost 100 people in attendance revolved around the timeframe of the goals, the importance of partnerships with diverse interests (including businesses) and why some trade offs between the goals, particularly when is comes to an inclusive economy, a healthy ecology and human rights must not be accepted. The vision is huge, the work to be done enormous, and the dialogue about what it means, and how to accomplish these goals internationally and here at home is urgent. 

The moderator, Joanna Ashworth, Director of Professional Programs and Partnerships in the Faculty of Environment, thanked the highly engaged audience for their active participation, insightful questions and ongoing commitment to working on the Global Goals.