Whether it be flooding in Ontario or forest fires in Alberta, the impacts of climate change are on the minds of Canadians. Brock University this week is launching Niagara Adapts, a new partnership that aims to reduce the risks associated with climate change in the region.
Local government is on the front line of both climate change impacts and responses. Municipalities engage with their residents showing leadership on the issue, and are well-positioned to design and implement local programs that make a big difference.
Universities can also play a critical role in tackling climate change through the contribution of scientific expertise, research and innovation.
“The challenges brought by climate change require that we all must work together,” said Brock University President Gervan Fearon. “As part of Brock’s new Strategic Plan, we are committed to collaborating with our local municipalities to enhance the life and vitality of Niagara region. Together we can better tackle the challenges of climate change and build a more sustainable future for our local communities and beyond.”
Niagara Adapts is an innovative partnership that brings together seven Niagara municipalities — Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Pelham, St. Catharines and Welland — with Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) to address what has been called the defining issue of our time.
The partnership is motivated by the shared interest in building climate resilience in Niagara through a collaboration that can be more efficient through shared resources and expertise than if municipalities went it alone.
Some of the participating cities and towns were successful in securing staff grants through the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program funded by the Government of Canada and delivered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
By the end of the partnership, all municipalities expect to have produced a climate change adaptation plan that provides recommendations to build climate resilience, from flood-proofing homes to increasing climate awareness throughout Niagara.
“We couldn’t be more excited to be engaging in research grounded here in Niagara that will directly benefit local communities,” said ESRC Associate Professor Jessica Blythe. “It’s the kind of partnership we dream about.”
ESRC Director Ryan Plummer said these sorts of partnerships are grounded in reciprocity.
“They embody the spirit of sustainability science and are integrated into the research and service of the ESRC, profoundly impacting our students, staff and faculty,” he said. “At the same time, immense benefits are gained by our partners in terms of capacity building, evidence-based decision-making and leveraging expertise to address sustainability challenges and opportunities.”