Acting on Climate Change Event with Sustainable Canadian Dialogues

acting on climate change event with sustainable canadian dialogues
Acting on Climate Change: Extending the Dialogue Among Canadians, a collection of texts, is a scholarly consensus on science-based and viable solutions for greenhouse gas reduction. Prepared by the Sustainable Canada Dialogues, an initiative under the UNESCO Chair for Dialogues on Sustainability and the Trottier Institute for Science and Public Policy, the series contains two reports – Acting on Climate Change: Solutions from Canadian Scholars, and Acting on Climate Change: Extending the Dialogue Among Canadians. The two reports deliver environmental expertise and different perspectives in areas such as renewable energy challenges, indigenous perspectives, and many others.

The GCNC Environment Working Group contributed a chapter (Linking the Roadmap to the UNGC Environmental Principles) to the report by evaluating the ten policy orientations outlined in the first report to three UNGC Environment Principles (Principle 7, 8 and 9). It is unanimously recognized by both organizations that climate change poses a credible threat to the planet’s ecosystems and must be addressed by acquiring a “precautionary approach”. The approach includes the development of policies and strategies that both incite a reduction in CO2 emissions while incenting the transition to a low-carbon economy. To facilitate this transition, both businesses and governments must develop green technologies, and initiatives such as subsidies, removal of regulatory barriers, and a market-based mechanism for managing carbon emissions.

The launch of the document took place at the Hart House Theatre, the University of Toronto on October 8th 2015. The event started with a call-to-action from the Master of Ceremony of the event, Helle Bank Jorgensen. Helle asked the audience to think about dialogue, action, and solutions. She also opened the dialogue by citing the new Sustainable Development Goal #17 – Partnership for the Goals and posed the question about how Canada is going to achieve this goal.

Catherine Potvin, the Chair of the Sustainable Canada Dialogues proclaimed that Canada has a wide network of intellectuals, companies, unions, First Nations, and many other groups to fight collectively in this battle against climate change. Therefore, if the country unites, it would be very well positioned to become a global leader in environmental sustainability.

The event also included a panel discussion with industry experts and co-authors of the report, including Pamela Palmater – Chair in Indigenous Governance Ryerson University, Jim Stanford – Economist at Unifor, Philip Raphals – Executive Director of the Helios Centre Montreal, Ralph Torrie – Principal of Torrie Smith Associates, and Peter Robinson – CEO of the David Suzuki Foundationclimate change event

Pamela Palmater voiced the importance of involving the First Nations community as an important contributor, if not the leader, of the revolution in the action against climate change. Pamela stated that the Indigenous People possess both a shield – constitution 35, and a sword – strong allies with academics, scientists, etc., when it comes to the fight for climate sustainability.

Jim Stanford, an economist at Unifor, touched upon the Unifor’s background, current agendas, and its relationship with members in different sectors and industries. Jim also stressed that the trade off between economic security and climate sustainability should be looked at from a different perspective. Unifor’s study, Rhtoric & Reality, demonstrated through the 16 economic indicators that resource extraction has impeded the Candian economy. Hence, there is certainly a positive correlation between economic opportunity and sustainable energy sources. As a conclusion, Jim ensured the audience that Unifor is indeed part of this dialogue to fight climate change.

Philip Raphals presented a more technical presentation to the audience and pointed out many of the hardships and opportunities that Canada currently faces when it comes to low-carbon electric systems. Philip also explained the pathways to deep decarbonization, cost-effective mitigation strategies, and the consequences if Canada reaches the policy goal of 100% low carbon electric systems by 2035.  Please read the chapter, Towards a Sustainable Low-carbon Electric System, by Philip for more information.

Ralph Torrie focused on the question: why isn’t the government making environmental policies more attractive to corporations? Ralph insisted that “we need to open the boundaries and look at the issues from a greater context, only then can we find solutions we have never thought of before.” Therefore, by aligning objectives of a low-carbon future with economic goals and aspirations of real Canadians, breakthrough strategies could emerge along with political feasibility to combat climate change. To read more about Ralph’s reflections, please click here.

Peter Robinson, CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation heavily stressed the point that we need to reduce debates and take more actions instead. Action groups need to make sure that they are having two-way dialogues; not only are they providing information, but they are also pulling and engaging people to take action. Peter finished his presentation by stating that “this is not a technical problem; human barriers are all the barriers that we have – it is a human challenge!”


The event was indeed a collaboration between passionate individuals of all ages, occupations, and educational backgrounds. Throughout the panel discussion and presentations, it was clear that there was one common theme among the contributors – action is needed, and Canadians need to take centre stage in this revolution for climate change! As said by Peter Robinson, “Don’t wait for approval, just do it!”

To see how your organization can get involved, please visit the Global Compact Network Canada’s programs page climate change event