Blog Contributor: Alexandra Cotrufo
On June 28th, 2022, the Niagara Climate Change Summit took place in Pond Inlet. The Summit was hosted by the Niagara Region in partnership with Brock University and the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.
The Summit came after a motion was passed in September 2021 by the Regional Council to declare a climate change emergency. Niagara’s annual average air temperature has risen by 1.4°C since 1910, and it is expected that this number will reach 1.8°C by the year 2050, according to Brock research. More than ever before, transformational change is needed to combat and mitigate the severe impacts of climate change.
The Summit brought together representatives from 12 local municipalities, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and the private sector to make a commitment to actively do more to address climate change in Niagara.
The day started with a traditional Indigenous opening by Dylan Ritchie (Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre) from the Saugeen First Nation, followed by a keynote presentation by Karen Farbridge (Karen Farbridge & Associates). Karen’s presentation focused on the importance of pushing for climate action at the local level, with the theme revolving around “Think global, act local.” She encouraged the Summit attendees to take bold action and collaborate with one another to build a more efficient, resilient, and sustainable Niagara.
Following the keynote presentation, The Regional Chair’s Youth Advisory Panel, represented by Salony Sharma (Chair) and Keegan Hedley (Vice-Chair), spoke to attendees about the effects climate change has on Niagara’s youth and the importance of climate action for future generations. Salony and Keegan urged everyone in the room to act on climate change, engage Niagara youth in discussions, and make a true commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2050. Their presentation closed with a powerful video highlighting how youth in Niagara feel about climate change.
Two panel discussions were later held, which focused on topics of leading environmental and climate change action in communities, and climate change action and the economy.
The afternoon consisted of several facilitated roundtable discussions, which focused on topics such as biodiversity, agriculture, local food and wine, sustainable transportation, home and building efficiency, and more. The roundtable session aimed to identify opportunities and barriers to advancing climate action in Niagara within various key sectors.
These discussions are an important first step for developing a network for collaboration, and the ideas and feedback collected will be utilized to develop a more cohesive climate change action plan for the Region.
Following the roundtable discussions, Summit attendees were invited to sign a call to action as a pledge to continue engaging in important discussions surrounding climate change and sustainable development.
This acted as a demonstration of commitment to form partnerships, share knowledge, and accelerate action on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions in Niagara. Over 100 individuals, representing dozens of local organizations, signed the pledge.
The Summit acted as a foundational first step for Niagara organizations, institutions, and municipalities to commit to working together to invest in the critical change that is needed to mitigate environmental challenges and prevent further negative impact.
Photos courtesy of Flashbox Photography.