Innovative Partnership

  • Workshop 8: Implementation

    Blog Contributor: Michaela Jennings

    On February 18th, 2021, Niagara Adapts held its 8th workshop in a 9-workshop series. The workshop was held online via the Microsoft Teams platform, adhering to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. The focus of the workshop was “implementation”. As the 7 municipal partners are working towards the final stages in their climate adaptation planning process, implementation is a key step. It breaks down how an action, project, or initiative will be implemented in the community.

    The workshop was held for the 7 municipal partners that are participating in Niagara Adapts. The workshop began with an introduction of the two facilitators of the event from Savanta Consulting. The facilitators are experienced with climate change adaptation planning processes, and they provided valuable insights throughout their presentation.

    The presentation progressed with an introduction to implementation, using case study examples to show how it has been approached in other Canadian municipalities. The workshop highlighted the challenges to implementation, and the importance it has in creating an effective climate change adaptation plan. The examples provided insight into how implementation can be incorporated, as well as the context-specific approaches that have been used.

    The presentation continued with a walk through of “how to implement” and what to consider when moving forward with this step. They discussed resources, funding, timelines, monitoring and evaluation, and prioritization. Each municipality will have a different approach to implementing projects in their community. By understanding what is available for the project, and what may be needed, this allows for municipalities to approach implementation processes with a sense of clarity.

    The workshop included a discussion around implementation tools that can be used, and where they may be appropriate in the planning process (marketing, pilot projects, external communication, and internal communication). This discussion was then paired with a collaborative activity examining implementation tools. By working together, the attendees worked with the facilitators to discuss the advantages and disadvantages that may arise for each of the tools.

    The workshop concluded with an open discussion between the facilitators and the audience. The workshop was beneficial as it emphasized best-practices and opportunities for implementation. It was also an opportunity for the partners to evaluate their own climate adaptation planning processes and how implementation will look for their municipality. By providing them with resources and tools, this workshop was an insightful and informative event for the Niagara Adapts partnership and will be further elaborated on in the panel discussion on implementing climate change adaptation plans held on March 11, 2021.

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, Niagara Adapts

  • Panel Discussion on Implementing Climate Change Adaptation Plans

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    The Environmental Sustainability Research Centre’s (ESRC) Sustainability Seminar Series will continue on Thursday, March 11th, 2021 at 11am EST with a panel about implementing climate change adaptation plans. We will be joined by three experienced professionals who have been an integral part of making their local communities more resilient to the effects of climate change. This event is in partnership with Niagara Adapts, one of the ESRC’s innovative partnerships that is focussed on leveraging resources and expertise to support collaborative climate change adaptation, planning, and implementation within seven municipalities in the Niagara Region. The Niagara Adapts partnership is led by Dr. Jessica Blythe, who will be the moderator for this exciting event.

    The panelists include Katie Thompson from the City of Barrie, Jacob Porter from the City of Thunder Bay, and Joanna Eyquem from the Intact Centre.

    Katie Thompson is a Risk Management Official in the Business Performance and Environmental Sustainability Group with the City of Barrie. Her focus areas include Drinking Water Source Protection, Climate Change Adaptation and, assessing corporate Environmental Obligations. She has a unique perspective on the interrelations between the science foundation, action framework, and implementation aspects of the Climate Change Adaption Plans.

    Jacob Porter is the Climate Adaptation Coordinator for the City of Thunder Bay, guiding implementation of the City’s Climate Adaptation Strategy. His work spans across emergency preparedness, asset management, and community planning; depending on collaborations across city departments, partnerships with community organizations, and engagement with city residents. Over the past year, adaptation efforts in Thunder Bay have focused on deeper recognition of the social impacts of climate events, and greater involvement in emergency response planning.

    Joanna Eyquem is a recognized expert in Climate Adaptation, Flood and Erosion Management and River Restoration, with 20 years experience both in Canada and the UK. Joanna’s focus areas at the Intact Centre include: (1) mobilizing flood-resilience for homes, new and existing communities, and commercial real estate; (2) protection and restoration of natural infrastructure to mitigate climate risk, (3) developing programs to limit risk of extreme heat; (4) promoting programs to limit wildfire risk; and (5) incorporating climate risk into institutional investing, credit rating assessments and securities disclosure.

    The Panel Discussion on Implementing Climate Change Adaptation Plans is sure to be informative and educational for all. There will also be a question period towards the end of the event to provide the audience with a chance to ask more specific questions and further engage with the panelists.

    Click here to join the live event on Thursday, March 11th at 11am. If you can’t make it, check out the ESRC’s YouTube channel which will feature the recording of the event within a week of it going live.

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, Niagara Adapts, SSAS Program

  • Building better research through community partnerships

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    On January 26th, 2020 Brock hosted a workshop called “Building better research through community partnerships”, which was the 11th event in the Building Better Research series – a collaboration between Brock’s Office of Research Services and the Library. The panelists included the following faculty and staff members:

    • Meaghan Rusnell – Director, Government and Community Engagement
    • Julie Rorison – Manager, Community Relations
    • Madelyn Law – Associate Provost, Teaching and Learning; Professor of Health Sciences
    • Sid Segalowitz – Professor Emeritus and Director, Centre for Lifespan Development Research
    • Ryan Plummer – Professor and Director, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC)

    All panelists detailed their experiences of conducting research through community partnerships, including Dr. Plummer who discussed the benefits of collaborating with the ESRC’s partners. The Centre now has over eight formalized agreements with partners such as the Trail Assets and Tourism Initiative with the Niagara Parks Commission, the Partnership for Freshwater Resilience with World Wildlife Fund-Canada, and the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab, to name a few.

    According to Dr. Plummer, here are three main benefits of working with community partners:

    • The ability to co-create knowledge in a way that honours and gives a voice to the partners in the community and bridges the gap between scientific knowledge and the needs of the local partners and communities. Dr. Plummer provided a recent example of how collaborating with partners is the key to meeting the needs of the community. He explained that the ESRC’s partners at Niagara Parks were dealing with a dramatic increase in tourism at the start of the pandemic due to the public wanting to get out of their homes and explore local greenspaces.

    Instead of having around 220,000 people visit the Niagara Glen per season, the added need for greenspaces led to over 300,000 visitors during the 2020 season. Dr. Plummer mentioned it was important to quickly pivot within the partnership to start responding to an acute community need to support people’s wellbeing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  This was possible due to a good working relationship with the partners at the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC), and they were able to create a video that showcased best practices for trail safety amid COVID-19 and beyond.

    • Every year (pre-pandemic), Master of Sustainability students go on a field trip to visit the ESRC’s community partners such as NPC, the Town of Lincoln, and Vineland, to name a few. During this trip, students have the ability to meet with partners and receive an incredible hands-on experience. This important fieldtrip can even inspire students to take on research related to the partners, which brings us to our last main benefit of engaging in community partnerships. To learn more about this engaging experience and how learning outside the classroom is beneficial for students, read this blog post.
    • Through meeting with partners and attending partnership events, thesis students within the MS program are able to look at concerns and needs that partners have and can tailor their research to address these needs. For example, Angela Mallette, a past graduate student, presented her research regarding Niagara Parks. Within two weeks of successfully defending her thesis, two Niagara Parks managers at the partnership’s bi-annual roundtable were able to implement her recommendations. Ultimately, student research related to partnerships has the power to impact hundreds of thousands of people in the community and beyond.

    All in all, engaging in community partnerships can lead to a number of impactful research projects and help our community by making a difference in the environment while also enhancing the student experience.

    Categories: Blog, Collaborations, Event, Innovative Partnership, Town of Lincoln

  • Assessing Higher Education Institutions (HEI) – Community Partnerships Performance, Monitoring & Evaluation

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    Partnerships between HEIs and communities are becoming increasingly important worldwide. More focus is therefore being placed on how these partnerships are created, how they transform over time, and they can achieve. Assessing the performance of HEI-community partnerships is essential for understanding their value (social, economic, and environmental value), accountability and transparency.

    Brock researchers carried out a national study to understand HEI-community partnerships and their performance in Canada. All HEIs in Canada with an explicit mandate related to community relationships were identified. A questionnaire was distributed to their offices, with the results illuminating the present state of partnership efforts. The key findings of this first part of this study include:

    • 25% of HEIs do not employ any monitoring or evaluation of their community partnerships
    • 67% of HEI community-focussed offices have an operating budget of $50,000 or more
    • 67% reported having over 30 active partnerships at their institutions

    A second questionnaire, sent to individuals at HEIs who are involved in HEI-community partnerships, as well as community partners, looked at how performance of partnerships should be assessed. A three-fold framework (inputs, process, outcomes) of indicators and measures was validated. The key findings of this second part of the study include what the most important inputs, processes, and outcomes are for effective partnership performance:

    • Motivation is the most important input
    • Communication is the most important process
    • Learning is the most important outcome

    These results bridge an important gap in the literature and you can learn more by accessing the Assessing Partnership Performance, Monitoring, & Evaluation webpage or by the reading the most recent publication by the ESRC research team in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, The issue of performance in Higher education institution – Community partnerships: A Canadian perspective.

    To learn more we included some helpful links below:

    Categories: Applied Research, Blog, Collaborations, Innovative Partnership

  • Experiential Education in a Virtual Year

    Blog Contributor: Shannon Ruzgys

    2020 orientation

    In an academic year quite unlike any other, the first year Master of Sustainability students experienced experiential education in a very different form, the virtual kind. Three virtual experiential education components took place in SSAS 5P01 (Foundations of Sustainability Science and Society), focusing on sustainability at Brock, UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, and the ESRC’s innovative partnerships.

    Sustainability at Brock usually would have involved a tour of Brock’s Central Utilities Building, but instead involved Mary Quintana (Director, Asset Management & Utilities) and Amanda Smits (ESRC Centre Administrator) virtually joining the class to discuss how Brock is committed to sustainability through management of facilities. The students were virtually walked through Brock’s District Energy Efficiency Project (DEEP), which involved replacing old co-generation engines with state-of-the-art energy efficient units. The students were walked through how this project had increased energy efficiency and lowered Brock’s carbon emissions, helping the university stay on track with their sustainability targets. The students were also introduced to the sustainability initiatives on campus through BU Sustainable, including the @busustainableInstagram and other social media platforms. Even though the students couldn’t walk the underground tunnels of Brock instead, they still got to learn and experience all of the ways in which Brock is currently enacting sustainability every single day through a virtual presentation.

    The second experiential education component focused on UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, including the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve, a reserve in which Brock University is situated. The students were virtually joined by Dr. Liette Vasseur who is a faculty member at Brock University and Lisa Grbinicek, a Senior Strategic Advisor at the Niagara Escarpment Commission. Through their presentations we were taught about the Ontario’s Greenbelt, UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, and natures contributions to people. The discussion was kicked off by highlighting the vast expanse that is the Greenbelt, which is 1.8 million acres of protected land spread across Ontario, including the Niagara Escarpment. The unique biodiversity within the Niagara Escarpment was discussed, including thousand-year-old trees, rare flora, and multitudes of mammals, birds, and reptiles. The students learned about the early plans put in place to protect the greenbelt and its designation as a biosphere reserve in 1990. From there, new developments in UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserves were discussed, including the ongoing conversation around the colonial implications of the term and the aim to change the term to Biosphere Region. The students also got to learn about ongoing developments in the field of biodiversity, including the differences between ecosystem services and natures contribution to people. Overall, the students got to hear from two professionals who have spent years in the field, protecting and researching biodiversity, and got to learn about the natural wonders that surround Brock.

    The final educational component highlighted the innovative community partnerships in the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC). While in any other year this would have involved the students visiting these partnerships in person through an interactive field trip, instead this course component took place virtually this year. The students were joined by Ryan Plummer (Director of the ESRC), Amanda Smits (ESRC Centre Administrator) and Erica Harper (a second year SASS student and ESRC co-op student). The students were walked through each of these partnerships and learned how the ESRC is actively integrating transdisciplinary research into the surrounding community. The ESRC is currently involved in 8 community partnerships, including the Brock Lincoln Living Lab, Niagara Adapts, Trail Assets and Tourism, and a new Living Planet @ Campus partnership with WWF. As transdisciplinary research is a pillar of the SASS program and the ESRC, it was very important for the students to experience how the centre is integrating the transdisciplinary approach into their own partnerships. So, while the students did not get to visit these partnerships, they were still able to experience and learn about all of the work that the ESRC is doing within the community and learn about these partnerships.

    In a virtual year, experiential education can be a difficult thing to accomplish but the SASS students were still able to learn about and experience all of the ways in which sustainability is lived out at Brock, including through the facilities management, Brock’s place in a Biosphere Reserve, and the ESRC’s innovative partnerships.

    Categories: Blog, Experiential Education, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • 2020 Innovative Partnership Year-in-Reviews

    As 2020 comes to an end, we are reflecting on the accomplishments that have been made and important goals that have been achieved through our innovative partnerships. This year was full of ups and downs for the global community and the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre at Brock was not immune to these turbulent times.

    However, we are proud that we were still able to launch three innovative partnerships to assist in moving forward issues of global importance. We worked with our existing partners to achieve important goals in order to showcase the importance of sustainability in our constantly changing world. We believe that the work put in by our partners this year is a true testament to their resilience and willingness to persevere through the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Click on each partnership year-in-review below to learn more about what we’ve all been up to this past year!

    Brock-Lincoln Living Lab

    Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative

    Charter with Facilities Management

    Niagara Adapts

    Trails, Assets, and Tourism Initiative

    Partnership for Freshwater Resilience

    The Prudhommes Project

     

    Categories: Blog, Brock Lincoln Living Lab, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Innovative Partnership, Niagara Adapts, Prudhommes Project, Sustainability at Brock

  • Engaging Community Stakeholders: Survey on Draft Vision and Goals

    Blog Contributor: Michaela Jennings

    Brock University and Niagara Adapts are inviting the public in the Niagara Region to participate in a survey regarding their respective municipalities. This survey will be used to help municipal partners in creating their Climate Change Adaptation Plans, in partnership with Niagara Adapts. Throughout the partnership, each participating municipality has been working through steps in creating their plan. The steps include reviewing best-practices in adaptation planning, in order to have a well-researched and context-specific plan. One of the important steps in creating an adaptation plan is through stakeholder engagement. Stakeholder engagement is an opportunity for the public, and staff in municipalities, to be part of the decision-making process. This will assist in creating a Climate Change Adaptation Plan with community feedback and participation.  

    In the fall of 2019, with the completion of a vulnerability assessment, each municipality was able to use the data collected from their residents to inform the creation of their vision and goals for their adaptation plan. The results were presented in the form of a Vulnerability Fact Sheet. The results from the survey this fall are intended to advise the decision-making process in the municipality. Additionally, it will help inform the creation of detailed action items. These actions items, aligning with the intention of creating more resilient communities in the Niagara Region, will help in deciding which actions should be taken, the timelines, costs, and focus of the action.  

    The survey focuses on the draft vision and goals that were created by each participating municipality. The survey begins with informed consent, requiring participants to be over the age of 18 to participate. The survey then lists the suggested vision and goals allowing participants to indicate on a scale from strongly disapprove to strongly support their level of support for each item. Each question is then paired with an opportunity for participants to provide feedback and comments on each of the goals and the vision.  

    The information collected from the survey will be used to inform and improve the vision and goals for the final adaptation plan for each municipality. This is a best-practice approach in municipal planning and will further improve the plan for the municipality by providing different perspectives and insights. The responses will also help in creating detailed action items for each of the goals.      

    The following are the participating municipalities: Town of Lincoln, City of Welland, City of St. Catharines, City of Niagara Falls, Town of Pelham. 

    To participate in the survey, click here. 

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, Niagara Adapts

  • Workshop 7: Monitoring and Evaluation

    Blog Contributor: Michaela Jennings

    On November 16th, 2020, Niagara Adapts held their 7th workshop in a 9-workshop series. The workshop was held for the 7 municipal partners of Niagara Adapts to add to the progress being made in the creation of their Climate Change Adaptation Plans.  

    Dr. Jessica Blythe began the workshop with an introduction to the facilitators of the event from Savanta Consulting. The consulting firm has experience working with local municipalities in Ontario to create their adaptation plans by utilizing the best practices. They provided a new perspective on the adaptation planning process, which allowed the partners, and the Brock Team to examine how monitoring and evaluation play a significant role in adaptation planning. 

    The workshop then progressed with a presentation on “Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL).” The presentation covered the what, why, and when of MEL, and the benefits of outlining a MEL process before implementing an adaptation plan. So far, Niagara Adapts has assisted in creating the municipal partners’ vision, goals, and completing a vulnerability assessment. Monitoring and evaluation are an important aspect as they outline how a plan will be implemented, monitored, and improved in the future. The presentation provided insight into the use of the “specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound” (SMART) framework when approaching MEL. Allowing the partners to learn how to approach MEL in their adaptation plan with some guidance.  

    The workshop continued with an introduction to a case study example. The case study was of one municipality’s experience in their monitoring and evaluation approach. This aspect of the workshop provided concrete examples and suggestions for the partners. Additionally, the presentation went into how monitoring and evaluation are done in bigger cities within Canada, showing a different approach to effective MEL in adaptation planning.  

    An activity was then used to engage the participants in creating indicators using SMART. By creating indicators, it allows for progress to be monitored after the implementation of the adaptation plan. Measurable indicators that can show progress and success are an important aspect of MEL. This was beneficial for the participants to apply what had been discussed in the workshop to their own adaptation plan. 

    The workshop provided an opportunity for the municipal partners to learn and apply the lessons learnt in the material. The workshop concluded with a valuable discussion with the facilitators, providing an opportunity for questions to be answered about adaptation planning. Overall, the workshop was beneficial in outlining the importance of monitoring and evaluation, as well as some helpful insights into adaptation planning.  

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, Niagara Adapts

  • NPC Speaker Series Wrap Up

    Blog Contributors: Allison Clark & Savannah Stuart

    NPC Webinar Screenshot

    Dr. Adam Shoalts was the last guest in the NPC Stewardship Speaker Series, and what an adventurous note to end on! Adam is well known for his novels and storytelling, detailing his incredible solo adventures through the Northern Canadian Wilderness. He brings with him a rare understanding and view of the vast landscape of the Arcticone of the largest untouched wilderness areas left in the entire world. With a PhD in history from McMaster University and extensive experience orienteering and navigating wilderness settings, Adam has a keen sense of natural history and geography. Through his humorous and compelling talk, Adam translated knowledge and experiences to the viewers in a tangible way. 

    Adam’s most recent exploration was a solo adventure through the Canadian Artic, from East to West. He began this trip by foot in the spring, as rivers were still ice covered. His canoe was shipped to the Mackenzie River Delta and by then, the ice had melted and he was able to continue his journey by paddling and portaging. Near the end, he was racing to arrive at his destination before the Arctic winter took hold of the land again. Many questions were brought forth from viewers at home, such as food inquiries, how he was able to spend so much time in solitude, preparation, and lots of gear questions. Specific details of the trip are found in his novel, “Beyond the Trees”, which can be purchased on the Niagara Parks website. Judging by the captivity and engagement of the crowd, we can only assume that the novel will keep you on the edge of your seat!  

    With this last presentation, we are saddened to wrap up our speaker series. It has been a joy to come together (virtually) and learn about different aspects of the environment, stewardship, and sustainability. Our diverse selection of speakers brought an array of teachings to us and visited topics such as: Traditional ecological knowledge, adaptive capacity of communities, the current state of fresh water in Ontario, and the importance of wild spaces and connecting with nature. We feel that this series captured the transdisciplinary nature of environmental stewardship and sustainability and are hopeful that our audience took away inspiration and new ideas. Thank you to all who were able to join us! 

    Categories: Blog, Collaborations, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Event, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor

  • Elizabeth Hendriks’ Presentation and an Introduction to our Next Speaker, Adam Shoalts

    Blog Contributor: Savannah Stuart

    The Niagara Parks Commission and Brock University’s ESRC were thrilled to have Elizabeth Hendriks join us on October 21st to discuss connecting the land and water to regional climate change impact. Elizabeth is the Vice President of the WWF Canada’s freshwater program and led the release of the 2017 Watershed Reports. These reports were the first national assessment of the health and stressors of Canada’s freshwater. During her talk, Elizabeth highlighted that the reports do not include 100% of our freshwater systems, as we do not have data to report on all our freshwater resources and there is still much to be investigated within our freshwater systems. You can view the Great Lakes watershed reports on the WWF website to check in with different watersheds’ health and threats. Lake Ontario and the Niagara Peninsula currently have “fair” health, but also have very high levels of threat.

    Overall, Elizabeth said the watershed reports gave evidence of moderately healthy systems. This can give us hope for the future, but she also stated that we need to do better. She encouraged us to become involved in local initiatives to protect our freshwater systems. With the dual crisis of climate and biodiversity loss, freshwater highly impacts life on land, above water, and below water. Freshwater systems do not have the same level of protection and conservation that some land masses do, which could be a prominent issue in ensuring their health in the future. Additionally, freshwater systems are inextricably connected with ecosystem health and the ecosystem services that the land graciously provides

    Our next speaker in the series will bring with him a great sense of adventure! Named one of the “greatest living explorers” by CBC and Canadian Geographic, Adam Shoalts will speak about incredible adventures in the great Canadian wilderness. A previous student at Brock University, Adam went on to complete his master’s and PhD at McMaster University, focusing on history, natural history, geography, and archeology. Adam is now an accomplished author with multiple books that have reached best-seller lists. Adam will share with us the value of the wild places he has explored and how important they are to our future. We hope you can join us on October 28th at 7pm for this online session.

    To learn more about this speaker series, and Brock’s partnership with the Niagara Parks Commission, please click here.

     

    Categories: Blog, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Event, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor