Dr. Alison Shaw




Dr. Alison Shaw is a scientist, practitioner, and organizational coach with over 20 years experience in pioneering climate change and sustainability research-to-practice innovations. 

Beginning her career as the first authorized research observer of the science-policy interface in the 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change process, she has since been designing dialogue-based approaches and collaborative strategies to advance climate change and sustainability research-for-practice across sectors. As Executive Director of ACT – Action on Climate Team at Simon Fraser University, she and her team mobilize low carbon resilience (LCR) and nature-based solutions (NbS) research-to-practice approaches to embed climate risk, emissions and sustainability co-benefits in decision processes, ensuring that climate action that multi-solves across is mainstreamed across policy, planning, strategy and operational decisions.

In 2023, Dr. Shaw was appointed as the inaugural Executive Director of SFU's strategic research priority—community-centred climate innovation. She brings her entrepreneurial and 'pracademic' mindset, collaborative and dialogical experience, and national and international networks to the position to (i) advance leading-edge partnerships, that (ii) co-create, implement and evaluate LCR innovations in practice and (iii) mobilize knowledge, resources and tools to advance research, evidence and best practices to future-proof communities. The goal is to accelerate community-centred climate action pathways that accelerate the sustainability transition.

The Influence of Dialogue

Throughout her life, Dr. Shaw has used dialogue to guide decisions in her personal and professional life. She co-founded a youth organization and was elected to represent future generations and non-human species in the Province of B.C.’s Commission on Resources and Environment process to end the "war in the woods" on Vancouver Island.

She also worked with City of Cape Town planners and engineers to develop and facilitate a land-use planning dialogue process that brought developers, the health authority, the national rail company, conservation groups, the Khoekhoe peoples and social justice and other civil society organizations together to plan an underdeveloped 400ha parcel of land in the centre of the city, the first of its kind in post-apartheid South Africa.

In 2001, as a PhD student, Dr. Shaw studied the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment Report process. As the first authorized researcher, she investigated the highly influential Summary for Policymakers (SPM) reports, where international scientific and policy communities were engaged in sophisticated dialogue approaches used to develop "policy relevant but not policy prescriptive information".