News

  • Brock launches UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability

    Published on June 26 2014

    Brock University has been awarded a UNESCO Chair that will help to build capacity in sustainability science research and its practical transfer to society.

    The chair, which will operate under the theme “Community Sustainability: From Local to Global,” is one of more than 811 UNESCO Chairs worldwide and a network of 18 in Canada facilitated by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. The Brock chair is the only one in Canada located at an institution situated within a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

    The main focus of the chair is to strengthen initiatives in sustainable agriculture and community-based natural resource management in Canada, China and other countries such as Ecuador, in order to develop concrete actions and best practices transferable to various countries around the world.

    The first person to fill this new role is biologist Liette Vasseur, a member of Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC).

    The Biological Sciences professor is Thematic Leader for the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s ecosystem-based Adaptation to Climate Change Group; Vice-President of the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists; and President of the Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Sciences, Trade and Technology. She is also a Minjiang Scholar at Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University in China.

    “I am excited to be able to be part of a large network of UNESCO Chairs who all work in helping their communities and countries around the world in sustaining the mission of UNESCO in sustainable development, gender equality and education for all,” said Vasseur. “This new position will help to enhance the collaborative activities of Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre in communities in Niagara and beyond.”

    The position will also support Brock’s new Sustainability Science and Society graduate program, which welcomes its first cohort of students this September.

    Long-term objectives of the new Brock UNESCO Chair include examining and developing innovative approaches, models and techniques that can be readily adopted by rural communities. These goals will be undertaken through applied research, support training and connecting with communities on crucial components of sustainability.

    “The future of humanity and the world depends not only on economic capital and natural resources,” said Pauline Dugré, acting manager at the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, “but on our collective ability to understand and anticipate change, and address the human and social dimensions of development.”

    From the Brock News, June 25, 2014

    Brock University has been awarded a UNESCO Chair that will help to build capacity in sustainability science research and its practical transfer to society.

    The chair, which will operate under the theme “Community Sustainability: From Local to Global,” is one of more than 811 UNESCO Chairs worldwide and a network of 18 in Canada facilitated by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. The Brock chair is the only one in Canada located at an institution situated within a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

    The main focus of the chair is to strengthen initiatives in sustainable agriculture and community-based natural resource management in Canada, China and other countries such as Ecuador, in order to develop concrete actions and best practices transferable to various countries around the world.

    The first person to fill this new role is biologist Liette Vasseur, a member of Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC).

    The Biological Sciences professor is Thematic Leader for the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s ecosystem-based Adaptation to Climate Change Group; Vice-President of the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists; and President of the Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Sciences, Trade and Technology. She is also a Minjiang Scholar at Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University in China.

    “I am excited to be able to be part of a large network of UNESCO Chairs who all work in helping their communities and countries around the world in sustaining the mission of UNESCO in sustainable development, gender equality and education for all,” said Vasseur. “This new position will help to enhance the collaborative activities of Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre in communities in Niagara and beyond.”

    The position will also support Brock’s new Sustainability Science and Society graduate program, which welcomes its first cohort of students this September.

    Long-term objectives of the new Brock UNESCO Chair include examining and developing innovative approaches, models and techniques that can be readily adopted by rural communities. These goals will be undertaken through applied research, support training and connecting with communities on crucial components of sustainability.

    “The future of humanity and the world depends not only on economic capital and natural resources,” said Pauline Dugré, acting manager at the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, “but on our collective ability to understand and anticipate change, and address the human and social dimensions of development.”

    To continue reading the full story in the Brock News, click here.

  • Brock biologist aims to help women achieve equality in traditionally ‘male’ fields

    Published on June 06 2014

    Article from the Brock News

    A group of science students head to the pub to discuss their research project – without their female members present. A male researcher offers to “help” his female colleague, since he has “more” experience and expertise than her, although she has been working in the same field longer.

    Male tradespeople laugh, and poke fun at their female colleagues.

    Discrimination against women in traditionally “male” fields – sciences, engineering, technology, trades – ranges from the subtle to the blatant, but all have the effect of keeping women out, explains Brock biologist Liette Vasseur.

    “In many of these fields, women are still very rare,” she says. “In fact, the numbers are going down in some fields, not up. It’s not changing too much from before.”

    Vasseur is the newly elected president of the Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Technology (CCWESTT).

    The Mississauga-based group is a resource and support network that researches, promotes and advocates for the full participation of women in science, engineering, trades and technology in government, business, industry and education at all levels.

    Vasseur explains that there are about as many women as men represented at the BSc level. Women start dropping off at the Master’s level and continue to do so at the PhD and Post-Doctoral levels.

    “When you look at full professorship – even in biology and some life sciences – you have around 20 or 25 per cent women and 75 per cent men,” she says. “Science is still very much a male-dominated area,” says Vasseur, referring to a presentation by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) at the recent CCWESTT conference.

    The situation is even grimmer in the some workplaces, particularly in computing sciences and physics, says Vasseur. NSERC reports that women’s participation in these and other areas can be as low as nine per cent.

    Workplace stress, family obligations and discrimination are the most common reasons why many women do not continue with science careers, she says.

    Vasseur explains that workplace discrimination can take many forms. She says a common one is a complaint that women scientists do not produce “enough,” even in cases where they have accomplished more than male colleagues.

    There may even be shortcomings in physical infrastructure. “A simple thing: the bathroom. Seems easy, but bathrooms are quite a difficult topic in trades – in many places such as the shop floor they simply don’t have a women’s washroom,” she says.

    The Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Technology, which Vasseur now heads, had created a subgroup called the Canadian Centre for Women in Science, Engineering, Trades and Technology, or “WinSETT.”

    Continue reading this story: https://brocku.ca/brock-news/?p=28443

  • Brock improves waste diversion by five per cent

    Published on April 23 2014

    Article from the Brock News

    Brock has increased its University-wide waste diversion rate by five per cent.

    According to its annual waste audit for 2013, Brock generated 1.94-million kilograms of solid non-hazardous waste.

    Of this total, the University diverted 65.3 per cent of this waste – or more than 1.26-million kilograms – from ending up in landfills. Brock’s waste diversion rate, based on the 2012 audit, was 60.3 per cent.

    “This is a great improvement from last year,” says Domenic Maniccia, director of Custodial Services. “If everyone pitches in we should see this rate even higher next year.”

    Of the total amount of annual waste diverted at Brock, 327,000 kgs was composted, 898,000 kgs was recycled, 40,000 kgs was reused, and 500 kgs was reduced.

    The latest audit also highlights areas for improvement.

    The highest contributors to the University’s 1.94-million kgs waste stream are organic wastes (26 per cent), followed by mixed containers (cans, plastic and cartons) at 9 per cent and coffee cups at 4.6 per cent.

    “Can we do more as a community?” asks Maniccia. “Absolutely. We have containers available throughout our campuses to easily capture these recyclable materials.”

    – See more at: https://brocku.ca/brock-news/?p=27671&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBrockNews+%28The+Brock+News%29#sthash.Szi7QgOZ.dpuf

    Brock has increased its University-wide waste diversion rate by five per cent.

    According to its annual waste audit for 2013, Brock generated 1.94-million kilograms of solid non-hazardous waste.

    Of this total, the University diverted 65.3 per cent of this waste – or more than 1.26-million kilograms – from ending up in landfills. Brock’s waste diversion rate, based on the 2012 audit, was 60.3 per cent.

    “This is a great improvement from last year,” says Domenic Maniccia, director of Custodial Services. “If everyone pitches in we should see this rate even higher next year.”

    Of the total amount of annual waste diverted at Brock, 327,000 kgs was composted, 898,000 kgs was recycled, 40,000 kgs was reused, and 500 kgs was reduced.

    The latest audit also highlights areas for improvement.

    The highest contributors to the University’s 1.94-million kgs waste stream are organic wastes (26 per cent), followed by mixed containers (cans, plastic and cartons) at 9 per cent and coffee cups at 4.6 per cent.

    “Can we do more as a community?” asks Maniccia. “Absolutely. We have containers available throughout our campuses to easily capture these recyclable materials.”

    – See more at: https://brocku.ca/brock-news/?p=27671&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBrockNews+%28The+Brock+News%29#sthash.Szi7QgOZ.dpuf

    Brock has increased its University-wide waste diversion rate by five per cent.

    According to its annual waste audit for 2013, Brock generated 1.94-million kilograms of solid non-hazardous waste.

    Of this total, the University diverted 65.3 per cent of this waste – or more than 1.26-million kilograms – from ending up in landfills. Brock’s waste diversion rate, based on the 2012 audit, was 60.3 per cent.

    “This is a great improvement from last year,” says Domenic Maniccia, director of Custodial Services. “If everyone pitches in we should see this rate even higher next year.”

    Of the total amount of annual waste diverted at Brock, 327,000 kgs was composted, 898,000 kgs was recycled, 40,000 kgs was reused, and 500 kgs was reduced.

    The latest audit also highlights areas for improvement.

    The highest contributors to the University’s 1.94-million kgs waste stream are organic wastes (26 per cent), followed by mixed containers (cans, plastic and cartons) at 9 per cent and coffee cups at 4.6 per cent.

    “Can we do more as a community?” asks Maniccia. “Absolutely. We have containers available throughout our campuses to easily capture these recyclable materials.”

    Brock has increased its University-wide waste diversion rate by five per cent.

    According to its annual waste audit for 2013, Brock generated 1.94-million kilograms of solid non-hazardous waste.

    Of this total, the University diverted 65.3 per cent of this waste – or more than 1.26-million kilograms – from ending up in landfills. Brock’s waste diversion rate, based on the 2012 audit, was 60.3 per cent.

    “This is a great improvement from last year,” says Domenic Maniccia, director of Custodial Services. “If everyone pitches in we should see this rate even higher next year.”

    Of the total amount of annual waste diverted at Brock, 327,000 kgs was composted, 898,000 kgs was recycled, 40,000 kgs was reused, and 500 kgs was reduced.

    The latest audit also highlights areas for improvement.

    The highest contributors to the University’s 1.94-million kgs waste stream are organic wastes (26 per cent), followed by mixed containers (cans, plastic and cartons) at 9 per cent and coffee cups at 4.6 per cent.

    “Can we do more as a community?” asks Maniccia. “Absolutely. We have containers available throughout our campuses to easily capture these recyclable materials.”

    – See more at: https://brocku.ca/brock-news/?p=27671&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBrockNews+%28The+Brock+News%29#sthash.Szi7QgOZ.dpuf

    According to its annual waste audit for 2013, Brock generated 1.94-million kilograms of solid non-hazardous waste.

    Of this total, the University diverted 65.3 per cent of this waste – or more than 1.26-million kilograms – from ending up in landfills. Brock’s waste diversion rate, based on the 2012 audit, was 60.3 per cent.

    “This is a great improvement from last year,” says Domenic Maniccia, director of Custodial Services. “If everyone pitches in we should see this rate even higher next year.”

    Of the total amount of annual waste diverted at Brock, 327,000 kgs was composted, 898,000 kgs was recycled, 40,000 kgs was reused, and 500 kgs was reduced.

    The latest audit also highlights areas for improvement.

    The highest contributors to the University’s 1.94-million kgs waste stream are organic wastes (26 per cent), followed by mixed containers (cans, plastic and cartons) at 9 per cent and coffee cups at 4.6 per cent.

    “Can we do more as a community?” asks Maniccia. “Absolutely. We have containers available throughout our campuses to easily capture these recyclable materials.”

    … to continue reading this article, visit the Brock News.

  • Department of Economics & ESRC Researcher Appointed to IJC’s Science Priority Committee

    Published on April 03 2014

    Dr. Steven Renzetti of the Economics department and the ESRC has a been appointed by the International Joint Commission (IJC) as a member of the Science Priority Committee of the Great Lakes Science Advisory Board on February 27, 2014 for a two year appointment.

    The Science Advisory Board gives assistance to the Commission in matters relating to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between Canada and the United States. Membership on the Board is determined by a member’s personal and professional capacity and there are equal numbers of Canadians and Americans on the Board (seven from each country).

    For more information about the members of the Science Priority Committee, please visit http://www.ijc.org/en_/sab/SPC_Members

    Read More: “Brock prof appointed to an IJC committee” article in the Brock News.

    For more information on the ESRC, please visit www.brocku.ca/esrc

  • 1,000 P.E.I. Homes In Danger Of Falling Into Ocean

    Published on February 24 2014

    In an article written by the CBC, ESRC Affiliate and Director of the Climate Resaerch Lab at the University of PEI, Dr. Adam Fenech discusses how Prince Edwards Island’s “sandstone provides little protection from rising sea levels”.

    “The Climate Research Lab at the University of Prince Edward Island has a new tool that shows how erosion will eat away at the Island over the next 90 years, and it indicates about 1,000 homes are at risk of falling into the ocean.

    P.E.I. homeowners need to pay attention to rising sea levels, says Adam Fenech, director of the Climate Research Lab at UPEI. (UPEI)

    The tool is called CLIVE, or Coastal Impact Visualization Environment. It shows a 3D map of P.E.I, and you can zoom in on different areas to how the rising water levels will affect the coast line.

    “Unfortunately the Island is just made of sand and sandstone, where virtually everywhere else, certainly in the other Atlantic provinces, they have this natural protection,” said Fenech.”

    Ton continue reading the story, click here.
    To learn more about ESRC, please visit: www.brocku.ca/esrc.

  • The ESRC is excited to announce the launch of our new Sustainability Science and Society graduate program!

    Published on January 30 2014

    New Brock program tackles sustainability and the environment
    Article from the Brock News, Read more here: https://brocku.ca/brock-news/?p=26025

    “A new master’s program at Brock University will prepare graduates for careers that help address our most pressing and complex environmental challenges and opportunities.

    The program, Sustainability Science and Society, responds to a growing social need to better understand and positively shape our relationship with the planet’s natural systems.

    Students who successfully complete the program will earn a Master’s of Sustainability (MS), which is available with or without a co-op option. The program is housed within Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC), which researches the environment, sustainability and social-ecological resilience.

    “There are few master’s degrees specifically designed to address contemporary challenges through the transdisciplinary lens of sustainability science,” says Ryan Plummer, director of the ESRC.

    “Confronting the complex problems we face going forward requires new perspectives that are transdisciplinary in nature,” he says. “This program will allow for the cross-pollination of ideas among students coming from different backgrounds of study.”

    The new sustainability program also highlights the University’s unique geographical position atop the Niagara Escarpment in St. Catharines, Ont.

    “Brock is one of only a few Canadian universities to be located in a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve,” Plummer says. “This privileged location provides us with a unique mandate for sustainability education.”

    The ESRC, located within Brock’s Faculty of Social Sciences, is also one the University’s five flagship transdisciplinary hubs. As such, it will foster the kinds of environment and sustainability research that go beyond conventional disciplinary boundaries to advance scholarship, inform policy and enhance on-the-ground work…”

    To read the rest of the article in the Brock News, please visit: https://brocku.ca/brock-news/?p=26025

  • ESRC researcher Dr. Liette Vasseur chosen to be a thematic group leader for global environmental organisation

    Published on May 06 2013

    May 06, 2013
    By: Samantha Purdy

    Dr. Liette Vasseur, professor and researcher at Brock University, has been recently appointed as the Thematic Leader for the Ecosystem based Adaptation to Climate Change Group. This group is part of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Commission of Ecosystem Management (CEM). Dr. Vasseur is a member in the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC), a professor in the Department of Biological Studies, and a member of the Women and Gender Studies Program at Brock University. She has been a member of IUCN’s CEM since 2003.

    Founded in 1948, IUCN is the world’s first global environmental organisation and is highly influential on sustainable development and environment issues at a global level. The aim of IUCN is to provide a neutral setting for scientists, NGOs, governments, local communities, and businesses to come together to find real-world solutions to challenges surrounding conservation and development. IUCN is framed by a Global Programme, which includes six Commissions, including CEM. CEM has a mandate to promote and provide guidance for ecosystem approaches to “build resilience of socio-ecological systems to address global changes”.

    Dr. Vasseur will lead the Ecosystem based Adaptation to Climate Change Group and in collaboration with CEM members will develop an agenda on this subject for IUCN. “Climate change is a huge issue when we examine ecosystem management. It impacts certain ecosystems in drastic ways and there is a need for consolidated efforts in finding adaptation strategies that will help protect the environment” says Vasseur. Other thematic groups in CEM include: Disaster Risk Reduction, Dryland Ecosystems, Ecosystems and the Private Sector, and more.

    For more information about the IUCN, please visit http://www.iucn.org/

    For more information please contact:
    Dr. Liette Vasseur
    E. lvasseur@brocku.ca; Tel. +1-905-688-5550 x4023

  • Brock Environmental Sustainability Research Centre Takes North American Lead on a Major International Project Addressing Global Water Challenges and Adaptation

    Published on April 23 2013

    April 22, 2013

    By: Ryan Bullock

    The three-year, € 1 000 000 initiative, which involves researchers in North America, Europe and Australia, aims to find innovative policies and governance structures to address competing demands for water in the face of climate change and other major threats to water supplies.

    The project is called CADWAGO – Climate Change Adaptation and Water Governance: Reconciling Food Security, Renewable Energy and the Commission of Multiple Ecosystem Services. It is one of four proposals to win grants this year from the highly competitive Europe and Global Challenges programme, which is funded by three independent foundations: Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, the Volkswagen Stiftung and Compagnia di San Paolo.

    The Europe and Global Challenges programme aims to encourage scientists to collaborate with partners around the world to tackle global challenges that require transnational solutions: from climate change, to pandemics, to rising conflicts around natural resources.  Researchers with the Brock Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) will lead the North American component of the multi-year comparative study.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that water resources and the ecosystems that depend on them will be affected by various climate change impacts, including changing sea levels, shrinking glaciers and reduced snow cover, changing weather and precipitation patterns, and an increase in extreme weather events. In many places, these impacts could result in severe water stress and present serious implications for water resource management and, more broadly, for sustainable development. Since water is a necessity of life, crucial for a wide array of sectors, water scarcity could jeopardize economic growth and efforts to reduce poverty, disrupt energy systems, and also threaten food security, locally and globally.

    “At the same time, demand for water is rising, with research suggesting that by 2030, there will be a global deficit of 40% between supply and demand”, says Neil Powell, CADWAGO project manager and Senior Research Fellow with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). “Without a significant change in how we manage water resources, the issue of supply and demand will be impossible for governments to solve. A more global and collaborative approach needs to be part of the solution. But currently we do not have a mechanism for coordinated global management of water resources.”

    Collaborating for Solutions

    That is the focus of CADWAGO: What policy options would make it possible to manage our water resources collectively – and better – so that we can increase our capacity to adapt to climate change?  Collaborating with international colleagues on the CADWAGO project will provide a chance for Brock researchers to inform EU decision-makers and shape policies addressing global water governance issues that affect us all.

    At Brock University, the project team includes Principal Investigator Ryan Plummer, Co-Investigators Steven Renzetti and Diane Dupont, and Postdoctoral Fellow Ryan Bullock. It is joined by ESRC associates Wendee Kubik, Tim Heinmiller, Julia Baird, Marilyne Jollineau and Liette Vasseur to investigate the Niagara River and Great Lakes as a transboundary resource—one situated in a complex setting that is seeing intensifying pressures for urbanization, agriculture, transportation and competing claims for extraction and allocation. In addition, the project involves researchers from the Stockholm Environment Institute, Open University, University of the Sunshine Coast, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Griffith University, University of Tasmania, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Wageningen UR and University of Sassari/University of Ancona.

    “I’m very pleased that ESRC researchers are participating in this large and important project. This signals the growing national and international recognition of the research contributions these scholars are making in the fields of water governance, social-environmental resilience theory and environmental economics” says Steven Renzetti, Program Director of the Water Economics, Policy and Governance Network.

    “Being asked to play a leading role in this consortium of noteworthy institutions tackling such an important issue is a privilege and attests to the growing international stature of ESRC”, says ESRC Advisory Board Member Åsa Gerger Swartling. “It also demonstrates the value of ongoing research partnerships, such as the memorandum of understanding with the Stockholm Environment Institute, as well as the regard others see in ESRC’s collaborative and transdisciplinary approach”.

  • Can U of T academics turn their African pipeline dream into a reality?

    Published on March 28 2013

    In an article by Raveena Aulakh at the Toronto Star, University of Toronto’s Rod Tennyson, and ESRC’s Rolima Verma discuss a project the would supply freshwater to the turbulent, drought-struck Sahel region through an 8,800km pipeline across Africa.

    “When Islamist groups ran amok in parts of northern Mali last year, two Toronto academics watched the news on television in despair.

    “It was a blow,” says Rod Tennyson, professor emeritus at the University of Toronto. “Mali is very important to our plan.”

    Romila Verma, who teaches hydrology at U of T, says she wanted to cry. “It was one of the few stable countries in West Africa and I wondered if our plan will ever work.”

    The “plan” is a grand one, even if it’s simplistic at its core: providing freshwater to the Sahel region through a pipeline that runs east-west in both directions.

    According to the blueprint, two desalinating plants — one in Mauritania, the other in Djibouti — will pump water from the ocean and turn it into freshwater that will then be carried through 8,800 kilometres of pipeline to 11 countries: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Senegal. Reservoirs every few hundred kilometres will store water, and pumping stations will keep the water pressure going. The water can be used for drinking and for irrigation.

    They call it the Trans Africa Pipeline project and estimate it would provide water to about 30 million people. The idea is to build the pipeline with donor money from the West and let the countries it runs though maintain it and run it.

    The cost? About $20 billion.”…

    To continue reading the article, click here.

  • Full-Cost Rates for Water and the Chimera of “Affordability”

    Published on March 12 2013

    Carl Bodimeade and ESRC’s Steven Renzetti discuss water pricing in Canada, in Water Canada: The Complete Water Magazine.

    “In recent years, Canadian municipalities have realized that the price we pay for water and wastewater services must rise. We’ve needed to move towards sustainable systems not just from an environmental perspective, but also to meet social and financial sustainability requirements. Historically, water and wastewater prices have not reflected the true cost of providing those services. Starting in the mid-2000s, major municipalities have increased their water and wastewater rates with yearly increases well above inflation (as much as 8-10 per cent above CPI).

    Such increases have understandably caused concern about the “affordability” of the prices which residents are charged for water and wastewater services. A recent Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) publication entitled Towards Full Cost Recovery: Best Practices in Cost Recovery for Municipal Water and Wastewater Services raised this issue, but the purpose of this note is not to argue that affordability should be ignored in rate design. Rather, we argue that there is a need to ensure that all goals are adequately considered and balanced when examining rate proposals and that discussions regarding rate design are based on the best available evidence.”

    To read the full article, click here.

    To learn more about ESRC, please visit www.brocku.ca/esrc