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EDITORIAL –

Working together to address climate change


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Hurricanes battering our shores and communities; wildfires made worse by drought; extreme rainfall events and floods. There is no doubt that climate change is real; Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans regularly experience these and other associated impacts. And people from the west coast of the province are more aware of this than most. Efforts to reduce how much and how fast the climate changes are critical. But increasingly it appears that some of these changes are already “baked in.” Lessening our impact is necessary but not sufficient; we need to prepare ourselves for this emerging reality. We also need to look at the question of how we can, and must, adapt. For two decades, the Harris Centre has taken Memorial University’s research related to our province and, through our programs and initiatives, connected it directly to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We’re pretty proud of that. We’re also proud of Forecast NL, a recently-completed province-wide engagement and discussion series that asked, “How can we recover from the impacts of the pandemic and create economic and social prosperity while mitigating and adapting to climate change?” Forecast NL included a demographically-representative Citizen’s Forum of residents. This group identified several key themes from the overall process. One of these was the need for more public awareness of climate change in Newfoundland and Labrador – including options available to help mitigate climate change and adapt to climate impacts. A second was the importance of developing increased collaboration and capacity to respond to climate change at the provincial and local level. Building upon these recommendations, the Harris Centre agreed to partner with econext and CLIMAtlantic to offer a series of regional climate workshops across the province. And now we’re headed to the west coast! On Nov. 8 we will be hosting workshops in Port aux Basques (11:30 am to 2 pm at the College of the North Atlantic) and in the Codroy Valley (4:30 to 7 pm, Wetland Interpretation Centre). We hope to see many members of your community on Nov. 8. The event format will allow individuals to engage in one-on-one discussions with our partners and come together as a community to identify promising strategies and actions to be pursued in their region. Previous participants have found these workshops both informative and motivating. Some of the feedback we received included:

  1. “Everybody is in the same boat and we can work together – there are lots of tools and help available.”

  2. “[We gained] a greater awareness of climate change adaptation.”

  3. “A feeling of community was fostered by coming together and caring enough to speak about climate change.”

We understand that change is hard. But life in this province has always offered its share of challenges. Despite (or sometimes because of) these challenges, we have thrived. Regardless of what the future holds, we know that this is the time to come together for a conversation about what can be done to become more resilient in the face of these new challenges. These workshops help communities and individuals develop an increased understanding of adaptation strategies, reinforce the need for people to work together, and ultimately offer a bit of optimism about what we can achieve as opposed to what we can’t. We hope to see strong representation from Port aux Basques and the Codroy Valley on Nov. 8. You can register for either event by visiting http://www.mun.ca/harriscentre. And if you have any questions please reach out to Christopher Paterson, Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator at The Harris Centre at cpaterson13@mun.ca. [We need to] be prepared for climate change because it is coming whether we like it or not. We can’t rely on one entity to solve the problem – we need to work together.

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