Researching for Climate Justice

2021, Summit Towards Equity, Climate + Environment, Equity + Justice

We were brought together for this important conversation that joined climate justice advocates, researchers, policy-makers and solution-seekers to discuss the challenges and opportunities of taking equity-informed approaches to climate research, solutions and policy development. 

Some of the questions we explored included: 

  • What are the benefits of applying the Justice, Equity, Diversity, Decolonization and Inclusion (JEDDI) lens to climate research, policy and solutions? What are the risks should we fail to do so?
  • What are the barriers to fully embracing climate justice in research and policy, and what must we do to overcome these?
  • How do we ensure that equity is central to our collective problem-solving and decision-making approaches around climate solutions? What do we need to develop an evidence base around equity considerations?
  • In the pandemic era, what are the challenges and opportunities that exist within the climate justice approach and the JEDDI space?
  • What must be done to address the challenge of uneven, unavailable and "not counted" methodologies in data collection necessary to do this work?

The conversations from this event will inspired the direction of future events and content as part of Towards Equity, SFU Public Square's 2021 Community Summit series.

Wed, 19 May 2021

Online Event

Part of Towards Equity


Anjali Appadurai

Climate Justice Lead, Sierra Club BC

Anjali is a climate justice activist, communicator and organizer. She works to strengthen climate change messaging and discourse in Canada by centring the stories of those on the front lines of the climate crisis. She brings a strong justice lens to climate change messaging and keeps her work connected to social movements that have been demanding climate justice in the Global South for decades. Anjali is Climate Justice Lead at Sierra Club BC and Sectoral Organizer with the newly formed Climate Emergency Unit.

Andréanne Doyon

Assistant Professor and Director, Resource and Environmental Planning Program, SFU

Andréanne Doyon is an Assistant Professor and Director of Planning in the School of Resource and Environmental Management (REM) at Simon Fraser University (SFU). Her work is situated within the intersection of equity and environmental planning. Current research topics include governance and planning for low-carbon, resilient, just cities; justice in transitions; and Indigenous representation. She holds a BA and MA (Planning) from the University of British Columbia and a Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne.

Maya Gislason

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, SFU

Dr. Gislason is a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University and founder of the Research for Eco-social and Equitable Transformation (RESET) team. As an eco-social equity scholar, she works with a range of partners on projects rooted in the ethic of intergenerational climate justice and towards the goal of improving health for people and the planet. Dr. Gislason works with governments using sex- and gender-based analysis approaches to address the impacts of climate change on equity-deserving groups and is championing new work on children’s mental health resilience and climate change.


Councillor, Squamish Nation

Khelsilem is Squamish and Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw, raised in North Vancouver, British Columbia. As the Squamish Nation Councillor, his lifelong work has been focused on governance, Indigenous languages, and dreams of progressive social change. He has served on various committees, including: Governance, Finance & Audit, Human Resources, and Housing Authority Development. He has strived to create good governance practices that enhance transparency, accountability, and ethical governing standards to benefit the Nation’s members.

Tesicca Truong

Ministerial Advisor, BC Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation

Tesicca Truong is a community engagement innovator, a dialogue facilitator and a serial changemaker. Her passions lie at the intersection of youth empowerment, citizen engagement and resilience-building. She co-founded CityHive, a non-profit on a mission to transform the way young people shape their cities and the civic processes that engage them. She also co-created the Vancouver Youth4Tap Coalition, a youth-led campaign that led to the installation of new water fountains in every public high school in Vancouver, as well as the inaugural Vancouver School Board Sustainability Conference. She currently serves as a Ministerial Advisor for the BC Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, as well as a Dialogue Associate at SFU's Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue.

Tesicca has served on the Mayor’s Engaged City Task Force, BC's Climate Solutions and Clean Growth Advisory Council, and SFU Senate. For her work, she was awarded the President’s Leadership in Sustainability Award from SFU and Vancouver’s Greenest City Leadership Award. Tesicca has also been named on Top 30 Under 30 and Top 25 Under 25 lists by Corporate Knights, the North American Association for Environmental Education, and Starfish Canada.

Eugene Kung

Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law

Eugene Kung (he/him/his) is a staff lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law, working on issues related to tar sands, pipelines and tankers, as well as with the RELAW program. He is committed to human rights, social justice and environmental justice and has been working to stop the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion project.

Prior to joining West Coast, Eugene was a staff lawyer with the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre, where he had a social justice law practice in the areas of constitutional, human rights, administrative, anti-Poverty and regulatory law. He has represented low- and fixed-income ratepayers before the BC Utilities Commission; low-income tenants of slumlords; tree planters and temporary foreign workers before the BC Human Rights Tribunal; and families of deceased farmworkers at a coroner’s inquest.

Marc Lee

Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (BC Office)

Marc Lee is a Senior Economist with the British Columbia office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). Marc led the CCPA's Climate Justice Project (CJP), which published a wide range of research on fair and effective approaches to climate action through integrating principles of social justice. Marc continues to write about climate and energy policy, as well as strategies for affordable housing. Over his career, Marc has tracked federal and provincial budgets and economic trends, and published on a wide range of topics from poverty and inequality to globalization and international trade to public services and regulation. Marc was "classically trained," with an MA in Economics from Simon Fraser University and a BA in Economics from the University of Western Ontario.


Bentley Allan

Associate Director, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions

Dr. Bentley B. Allan is the Associate Director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS). Dr. Allan joined PICS in the summer of 2020 from his position as Associate Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Ohio State University and an HBA from the University of Toronto.

He has expertise in the relationship between science, technology and politics, the history of climate policy, and the political economy of decarbonization. He is the author of an award-winning book with Cambridge University Press and a number of peer-reviewed articles in the top journals in his field.

Mumbi Maina

Social Planner, Social Policy and Projects, City of Vancouver

Mumbi is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia. She is part of a research team working to imagine how Canadian cities can catalyze transformative innovation in tackling colonialism, rising inequities and the climate crisis. Mumbi’s doctoral research examined the roles of various actors, including historically marginalized groups, in the enactment of sustainability in higher education policy and practice. A Social Planner at the City of Vancouver, Mumbi is collaboratively working towards organizational transformation through the development of the Equity Framework. Her previous work focused on grassroots social and environmental justice organizing, anti-racist education and cross-cultural collaboration with immigrant and other communities across North America.

Jonathan Fowlie

Chief External Relations Officer, Vancity

Jonathan leads Vancity’s External Relations and Impact Strategy division overseeing government relations, communications, community investment, climate strategy and performance, and member and stakeholder engagement.

As head of the division, Jonathan is responsible for the credit union’s engagement with governments and key community stakeholders, as well as its strategic communications. Jonathan also oversees Vancity’s approach on its commitments to climate action and climate justice, and is responsible for Vancity’s community impact programs, including affordable housing, Indigenous partnerships, and social and financial inclusion.


Am Johal

Director, SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement, and Co-Director, SFU’s Community-Engaged Research Initiative

Am Johal is director of SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement and Co-Director of SFU’s Community Engaged Research Initiative. He is the co-author of Global Warming and the Sweetness of Life: A Tar Sands Tale.

Event Summary

A Critical Conversation on Researching for Climate Justice.

By Claire Adams, MUrb Candidate, SFU Urban Studies

A panel of advocates, researchers, policy-makers and solution-seekers gathered virtually on May 19, 2021 for a critical and compelling conversation about researching for climate justice.

Rueben George, a member of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, opened the event. George is the manager of Sacred Trust, an initiative of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation mandated to stop the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project. He offered a powerful reflection on the fight against the pipeline and the Nation's vision of a better future for their lands, waters and people—and for all people. “If we win, we all win,” noted George.

Moderator Am Johal, the director of SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement and co-director of SFU’s Community-Engaged Research Initiative, then introduced a panel of seven speakers and three respondents who each offered a unique perspective on key questions about climate justice.

Read More

What is climate justice?

Climate justice, as explained by panelist Eugene Kung, a staff lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law, is an approach that embeds climate change within social justice and recognizes that the people most negatively impacted by climate change are those least responsible for creating those impacts and those least able to mitigate or adapt to them. Climate justice also requires that climate solutions use the lens of justice and equity. As an example, fellow panelist Marc Lee, a senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (BC Office), pointed out that climate justice requires governments to not aggressively rush towards climate actions without considering the ways those actions may disproportionately impact vulnerable people and groups.

What are the root causes of climate injustice?

Anjali Appadurai, the climate justice lead at Sierra Club BC and sectoral organizer with the newly formed Climate Emergency Unit, drew from her experiences as a climate justice advocate representing Global South climate movements to address the roots of climate injustice. Appadurai highlighted the role of the world’s wealthiest countries in creating the climate crisis, and suggested that issues of “third-world debt” and colonialism cannot be separated from conversations about climate justice. These patterns of inequity, Appadurai pointed out, are reflected at the local level here in B.C. in terms of who is most impacted by climate issues. An effective response to climate injustice must have strong international solidarity, Appadurai concluded, because “climate knows no borders.”

A further root cause of climate injustice is the disparity in who is producing emissions, a point made by Lee who referenced a recent study that indicated the world’s wealthiest 5 per cent of people were responsible for more than a third of the growth in global emissions between 1990 and 2015.

Why should we strive for climate justice?

Panelist Khelsilem, a councillor for the Squamish Nation, went on to highlight that taking the right kind of actions now will benefit our society in a way that creates more equality and dignity for people who are currently most negatively impacted by climate change. This type of just transition must be worker-focused and low-income-focused, and it must prioritize policies and strategies that materially benefit people who have not historically benefitted. This type of outcome cannot be achieved if we focus on solutions that perpetuate the inequality in our society.

Whose voices should researchers and students concerned about climate justice listen to and amplify?

Tesicca Truong drew from her roots as an environmental activist and co-founder of CityHive to speak about the importance of engaging young people and folks from marginalized communities who have previously been excluded from these types of conversations. Young people, Truong noted, are disproportionately affected by the policy decisions made today due to the future impacts of these decisions. Truong also built upon points made by Kung and Lee concerning ethical research. Truong noted the importance of valuing different types of knowledge, including lived experience; ensuring that research is focused on working with communities to their benefit; and sharing the outcomes of research with community partners.

What are some of the barriers towards embracing climate justice in research and policy?

Through her work with municipal governments, panelist Andréanne Doyon, an assistant professor and director of planning in SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management, had identified that a key barrier was the difficulty of developing clear evaluation processes and targets to measure climate justice. This challenge was related to an issue raised by all of the panelists: the need for better data to understand and respond to climate injustices. Specifically, disaggregated demographic data is needed to identify how different groups are experiencing the impacts of the climate crisis.

Maya Gislason, an assistant professor in SFU’s Faculty of Health Sciences, spoke about her work in attempting to address these “silences” in the data by bringing together transdisciplinary scholars to create processes for gathering equity-informed climate impact data. This work requires a focus on the use of mixed methods, decolonization of research and integrating a population- and place-based approach to understanding data. Gislason highlighted a number of theory-driven tools that have helped with this work, including reconceptualizing intersectionality through an Indigenous lens.

What future areas of focus were identified through this event?

Following the panel discussion, three respondents reflected back on what they heard from the speakers and highlighted areas requiring further consideration. Mumbi Maina, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia and a social planner at the City of Vancouver, spoke about the need to further examine and dismantle the structures and institutions that continue to reproduce climate injustice. Maina also posed the need to ask, “Who are we researching for?”, as well as the importance of analyzing our governance models and developing a shared understanding of belonging and wellness to create targeted approaches to address inequities.

Next, Jonathan Fowlie, chief external relations officer at Vancity, offered his agreement with several of the points made by panelists. Fowlie suggested that COVID-19 has served as a dress rehearsal for the climate crisis, and that this highlights the need to think about how our systems are set up to respond to crises. He reflected on the need for data as emphasized by all the panelists, and suggested that we need to be clear about what we mean by equity, and that rigour now will lead to better outcomes in the future.

Finally, Bentley Allan, an associate director at Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS), reflected that the panel discussion and audience questions had emphasized the importance of co-designing solutions. Allan spoke about PICS’ funding support for co-designed projects, noting that researchers should not come to a community with a fixed idea for a research project but instead ask, “How can we serve and support you?” Allan also addressed the question of whether incremental steps can lead to the more radical changes that are required to address climate injustice, making the case that we need to “sequence policies and actions to build the power and the coalition that we want to affect further change down the line.” This long view, Allan suggested, presents an opportunity to strategically think about how to build movements today that can result in bigger, transformative change in the future.

Future programming

The conversation from this event will inspire the direction of future events and content as part of Towards Equity, SFU Public Square's 2021 Community Summit series.


Event Recording

In the News

Climate research needs to be embedded in social justice, experts say — Karissa Ketter, The Peak (May 30, 2021)



Towards Equity Events

  • Property, Home and Precarity: From Street Sweeps to Housing Justice

    2021, Summit Towards Equity, Cities, Equity + Justice

    As part of our Classroom Partnership Program, senior SFU geography students will present their work on housing vulnerability in Vancouver, focusing on rental evictions, street sweeps, rental financialization, and housing justice movements.

    Read More →

  • Hope in Resistance: Stories of Climate Justice

    Equity + Justice, 2021, Climate + Environment, Summit Towards Equity

    SFU Public Square and Vancity are proud to present Hope in Resistance, featuring Melina Laboucan-Massimo, co-founder of Indigenous Climate Action; Anjali Appadurai, climate justice lead at Sierra Club BC; and Naisha Khan, co-founder of Banking on a Better Future, in a conversation moderated by Nahlah Ayed (host of Ideas on CBC Radio One).

    Read More →

  • Mapping Equity: Using GIS and Maps to Make Invisible Realities Visible

    2021, Equity + Justice, Summit Towards Equity

    Maps are great tools to bring together a massive amount of data and share it in a format everyone is familiar with. They are also a unique tool to bring unnoticeable realities—including realities of inequality—to visible patterns. This 90-minute workshop will introduce you to how to make a thematic map that highlights an equity indicator.

    Read More →

  • Equity in Practice: More Stories of Community Capacity Building

    Equity + Justice, 2021, Summit Towards Equity

    SFU’s Community Capacity Building Certificate supports learners as they engage community by sharing lived experiences and adopting new tools for building projects and movements. Learners deepen their relationships with themselves, their communities and the land to create a project and move forward a change they’d like to see in the world.

    Read More →

  • Should a Just Recovery Include a Basic Income for B.C.?

    2021, Summit Towards Equity, Economy, Equity + Justice, Future of Work

    At this event we will look at the recommendations and analysis of the Final Report of the British Columbia Expert Panel on Basic Income to ask: should a just recovery for all include a basic income?

    Read More →

  • Overcoming Digital Divides: Youth and Digital Skills

    2021, Series Overcoming Digital Divides, Summit Towards Equity, Equity + Justice, Media + Information

    Join us to discuss how Canada can better support our public internet infrastructure for the marginalized communities who rely on them and for everyone.

    Read More →

  • Equity in Practice: Community Capacity Building

    2021, Summit Towards Equity, Equity + Justice, Community Building

    Join us to hear inspiring stories from the most recent cohort of SFU’s Community Capacity Building Certificate learners and their growth as emerging leaders working towards equity in their communities.

    Read More →

  • Overcoming Digital Divides: Public Internet Access

    2021, Series Overcoming Digital Divides, Summit Towards Equity, Media + Information

    Join us to discuss how Canada can better support our public internet infrastructure for the marginalized communities who rely on them and for everyone.

    Read More →

  • Researching for Climate Justice

    2021, Summit Towards Equity, Climate + Environment, Equity + Justice

    Activists, researchers, policy-makers and solution-seekers come together to surface the challenges and opportunities of taking equity-informed approaches to climate research, solutions and policy development.

    Read More →

  • Overcoming Digital Divides: People with Disabilities and Accessibility

    2021, Series Overcoming Digital Divides, Summit Towards Equity, Science + Techonology, Media + Information

    The federal and provincial governments have taken some steps to improve internet accessibility and adoption among Canadians with disabilities, but there still remain substantial gaps with many facing barriers in accessing digital services.

    Read More →

  • Rosemary Brown Memorial Symposium

    2021, Summit Towards Equity, Equity + Justice

    Every year, to honour the important legacy of the late Rosemary Brown, SFU's Department of Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies (GSWS) brings together distinguished scholars, students, service providers, and the broader community together to speak on current issues of diversity, ongoing inequalities, and ways to create positive change.

    Read More →

  • Overcoming Digital Divides: Older Adults and Digital Literacy

    2021, Summit Towards Equity, Series Overcoming Digital Divides, Media + Information, Science + Techonology

    Older adults are less likely to use the internet than younger people in Canada, and many report that information technologies do not improve their quality of life or save time. The issue is more pertinent than ever under the pandemic.

    Read More →

  • The 2021 Spry Memorial Lecture

    2021, Summit Towards Equity, Media + Information, Equity + Justice, Indigenous Voices

    Desmond Cole and Tanya Talaga, along with moderator Candis Callison, will consider recent attention over the escalation of commentary on the representation of Indigenous, Black, and people of colour; the structural challenges that currently impede calls for greater diversity; and how institutions and platforms can foster a more constructive dialogue.

    Read More →

  • Dean's Lecture on Information + Society

    2021, Summit Towards Equity, Media + Information, Equity + Justice, Indigenous Voices

    We are pleased to partner with SFU Library to invite you to the Dean's Lecture on Information + Society: an evening of conversation with Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson.

    Read More →

  • Decolonizing Scottish Studies

    2021, Summit Towards Equity, Education + Research, Equity + Justice

    This is the first in a series of events being organized by the Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University

    Read More →

  • Innovations in Research

    2021, Summit Towards Equity

    Join us in a unique virtual environment using Gather to engage directly with SFU faculty, students, staff, alumni and community partners who are moving us Towards Equity with innovative research from a variety of fields and perspectives.

    Read More →

  • Overcoming Digital Divides: Low-Income Communities

    2021, Summit Towards Equity, Series Overcoming Digital Divides, Media + Information, Science + Techonology

    Low-income communities continue to experience lower internet access, affordability, and quality. Canadians are at an all-time need for increased access to internet, computer, and tablet devices for e-learning and remote work.

    Read More →

  • Zooming In: Education in 2021

    2021, Summit Towards Equity, Education + Research, Equity + Justice

    Join the SFU Public Square Peer Ambassadors for a student-focused event on how to improve the online education experience under COVID-19.

    Read More →

  • Overcoming Digital Divides: Indigenous, Rural and Remote Communities

    2021, Summit Towards Equity, Series Overcoming Digital Divides, Media + Information, Science + Techonology, Indigenous Voices

    Are recent public investments and policies sufficient to achieve digital inclusion of Indigenous, rural and remote communities? What Indigenous-specific needs must be addressed to secure digital inclusion?

    Read More →