Building a New Generation of Equity-Informed Climate Change Evidence

2021, Innovations in Research

We work upstream to understand the impacts of climate change on equity-deserving groups. Defining characteristics of our mixed-methods research include the use of intersectionality and Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) approaches to work with big data, develop predictive modeling approaches, and conduct place-based qualitative research.

Our team works with partners ranging from community-based organizations to the Climate Action Secretariat of British Columbia and Women and Gender Equality Canada. For our partners, we provide recommendations on how to take more holistic approaches to centring equity within climate change responses. Through this work, we are developing a new generation of equity- and intersectionality-informed methodological tools. For policy development, we take a Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) approach to big data analytics and to developing guiding principles to guide the design of equity-informed predictive models that can be used to understand the impacts of climate change on women and other diverse groups. We also use qualitative approaches to fill equity data gaps on how climate change is impacting different communities and equity-deserving populations. Our interdisciplinary team is comprised of scholars with varied theoretical, empirical and methodological competencies, enabling us to learn, measure and comprehensively inform climate change policy and practice.

To date, our research group has created a series of research outputs, including policy briefs, evidence-based schemas for developing predictive models, training workshops, reports, webinars and journal articles. We continue to work on government contracts and are producing a series of manuscripts informed by our theoretical and methodological approaches and research findings. Our goal is to share our knowledge and processes about producing theoretically informed approaches to equity and climate change with those driving climate change research and policy formation in the Canadian context.

Our research and production of methodological tools has advanced scholarship and practice around ensuring that climate change responses are equity- and theory-informed. When there is a paucity of numeric data to draw upon, and to ensure that data used reflect the complex realities of the people they represent, our team integrates qualitative knowledge and seeks guidance from Indigenous advisors. Using these approaches, our work is developing strategies for researching specific impacts of climate change being experienced by a range of equity-deserving populations.

We bring an interdisciplinary and theory-informed lens to providing equity-focused approaches to developing policy recommendations to community-, government- and research-based organizations and institutions. We are committed to decolonizing our work through ongoing reflection, collaboration, partnership development and strengthening our competency in Two-Eyed Seeing approaches. In that the guiding frameworks of our research and practices are intersectionality, health equity and GBA+, we are in a unique position to mentor students, consult with governments, and share knowledge with the research community about how to move health equity theory into practice. To date, it is acknowledged that there is a great deal of variability in how to interpret and practice the mandates of conducting equity-informed work, including putting the theory of intersectionality and GBA+ into practice. While our team continues to learn how to do this work, we have also been at the forefront of these efforts and along the way have learned a great deal that we would like to share with others in an attempt to amplify efforts in generating equity-informed approaches to understanding and responding to the impacts of climate change in Canada.

About the project

Presentation at Innovations in Research, April 13, 2021

Maya Gislason

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences

Climate change, intersectionality, equity, mixed methods, GBA+, evidence


Maya Gislason

Dr. Maya Gislason (she/her/hers) has been an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at SFU since September 2014. Her areas of interest include intergenerational climate equity, critical pedagogy, ecosystem approaches to health, cumulative impacts of intensive resource extraction, and epistemic justice.

Other contributors to this research include Angel Kennedy, Dawn Hoogeveen, Jordan Brubacher, Stephanie Witham, Kerri Klein, Alexis van der Waall, Alexander Rutherford, Jillian Andersen, Katie Bauder, and Kelly Nolan—a passionate group of dedicated graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, environmental change leaders, health consultants, mathematicians, spatial analysts, big data developers and analysts, and equity-driven qualitative researchers.

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