Connecting Climate Leaders, Young and Old

#FridaysforFuture on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square (Sooke News Mirror, 2019)

Climate change has shifted much of the received wisdom of how our world is and ought to be, but perhaps one thing that remains even more affirmed in the age of climate change, is the need for relationships. Relationships enable good work to occur and, for many issues, building those relationships is the work itself.

On May 23rd, a collaborative effort of several Vancouver youth organizations resulted in a unique gathering of city councillors, nonprofit leaders, and young sustainability activists and leaders from around Metro Vancouver. The intention of this event? To build new relationships across generations and areas of work, amidst the regional growth of Climate Emergency declarations and the ongoing development of Metro Vancouver’s Climate 2050 and the work of its Climate Action Committee.

Climate leaders young and old from around Metro Vancouver (GS, 2019)

The gathering, hosted by the Vancouver Global Shapers, Young Regional Leadership Collective, CityHive, and the Climate Migrants and Refugees Project, was generously sponsored and supported by the BC Municipal Climate Leadership Council (BCMCLC).

BCMCLC is a group of volunteer mayors and councillors from across BC, committed to climate leadership in their communities. Members represent communities large and small, urban and rural, from all over the province, and come together to lead, educate and engage other elected officials about climate action. The Council is undertaking exciting new projects this year and welcomes new members. BCMCLC is supported by Community Energy Association

To learn more, reach out to: mchorobik -at communityenergy.bc -dot- ca

What did we talk about?

Chair Dhaliwal, Jennie Moore, and Neal Carley speaking to the assembled guests. (GS, 2019)

The event included some of the region’s major leaders, past and present on climate change, to provide some of the context of the region’s past, present, and future, of climate action.

  • Councillor Sav Dhaliwal, Chair of Metro Vancouver, talked about his role as Chair, and the evolution of climate change in political discourse over his time as a politician — moving from more binary views of nature and economy, to something much more holistic;
  • Jennie Moore, Director of Sustainability at BCIT, who talked about the region’s first municipal climate change report, the City of Vancouver’s Clouds of Change,
  • Neal Carley, General Manager of Parks, Planning, and Environment, Metro Vancouver, talked about the development of Climate 2050, and the next steps of its roll-out, including all of the opportunities for the public to contribute to topic-specific sub-plans.

Using the beautiful SPACES Gastown rooftop patio as a venue, those assembled learned about one another’s areas of work, to reflect on future opportunities for driving future climate action. Some of the key insights that came out of the conversation included:

  • Coordinating efforts among City elected officials and civil society leaders to increase resources given from the federal government to cities, particularly as more and more communities declare climate emergencies;
  • Building strong partnerships with advocacy groups, service organizations, and leaders from communities that have been historically marginalized, including Indigenous peoples, People of Colour, New Canadians, women, and LGBTQ2S+ folks, to ensure climate action works for everyone;
  • Work to build new structures for climate action with and from businesses, whether through changing laws to ensure more and voluntary action, or through direct campaigns to motivate new ways of doing business;
  • Looking for opportunities to support young people and civil society, such as the Climate Strikes as part of #FridaysforFuture, by attending these events, listening, and building alliances.
Emerging areas of climate action in different cities throughout the region (GS, 2019)

There is much more to be done, and many more relationships that must be built — as the co-hosts talked about, there are still many voices that are difficult to get into the room. But these conversations can be the start of action and a shared sense of purpose that, as the convenors hope, will extend across the whole region.

The work, as always, continues, but now we hopefully we have a few more friends at the table.

by George P.R. Benson