A Canmore-based non-government organization that works to create capacity for communities to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change reported back to the community last week from its trip to a major UN conference in Marrakech.
The Rockies Institute (TRI) was accepted as an official presented at the United Nations conference on climate change held in November, the annual meeting held by the global organization's framework convention on Climate Change and the first meeting held after the Paris Agreement, which falls under the 1992 United Nations Conference on Climate Change (UNCCC).
The Rockies Institute is a new player in the Bow Valley charitable organizational network, having received non-profit status in October. But many might also not be aware it is also a recipient of the Town of Canmore's annual grant program, having received $3,000 in 2015 and $1,500 in 2016.
TRI board member Laura Lynes presented the results of TRI's trip to Marrakech last week at the Civic Centre, as a portion of the funds to take a team to the conference was paid for by municipal grant dollars.
“When we say the grants from the Town are to help non-profits here, it really has helped,” she said. “It is not a lot of money, but it has been enough to cushion some of the other grants and those are always asking for matching funds.
“The Rockies Institute is a new charitable organization … our base camp is the Bow Valley and we have a multi-disciplinary team with our board of governors, advisory committee and consultants from all over the world.”
The goal of the institute is to help individuals, businesses and communities build resilience and adapt to climate change and, according to its website, that is done through education and research to address gaps between knowledge and action “by working with stakeholders to co-design pathways toward transitioning to a safe and sustainable future.”
The team that TRI took to Marrakech included Lynnes, consultant Karen Barkley and a partner from the Blood Tribe. They presented on creating trusting partnerships in climate resilience and adaptation in remote indigenous communities. Lynnes said the presentation focused on the work TRI is doing with the Blood Tribe, or the Kainai First Nation of Alberta.
The reason the presentation was accepted to be part of the conference, she said, is because the experience of indigenous people in the North with respect to the threat that climate change proposes and the use of traditional knowledge to find mitigation and resilience, is very similar to what is happening in developing countries of the global south.
“We explained there is a lot of work that has to happen in Canada about climate change and especially with our vulnerable communities,” Lynnes said. “We shared how building trusting partnerships with indigenous communities can lead to a climate resilient future and how this can help bridge the gap between renewable and extraction based industries.”
Barkley, who also works with the Global Campaign for Climate Action, spoke about the UN's global pathways to 2050 and the importance of having targets to reduce emissions or carbon footprints.
The initiative was announced in Marrakech and Barley said it is exciting times for Canada to be part of the work under a government serious about addressing climate change.
The platform allows stakeholders at all levels of government and business life to work together to be net carbon neutral by 2050, or get as close as possible.
While there may be targets set, Barkley said unfortunately Canada is not on track to meet its 2030 targets and that makes the platform even more important to engage with.
“We are so off track in meeting our targets as they are, this is why I think the current government is starting to get much more serious about some of these initiatives,” she said, pointing to the carbon tax and interest in renewable energies as two examples. “There is also a recognition that all of these different ways to reduce emissions have to be done at every level.”
Canmore council has set 2015, 2030 and 2050 targets for the municipality as a corporation and as a community, which are included in its Environmental Sustainability Action Plan.
Lynnes said having TRI at the convention in Marrakech has also expanded the awareness of the non-profit within government circles in Canada. They met, she said, with Alberta's Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips and briefly met with Canada's Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna while there.
The team's presentation was also broadcast live and the team made connections, including their indigenous partner, that will be valuable into the future on the work happening locally and globally on responding to the risk that climate change presents.
Lynnes said the institute was also asked to collaborate with a division of the United Nations focused on mountain communities.
“Climate change presents new challenges humanity has never faced and I say this also with our indigenous partners … there is no elder that has lived through climate change, they have lived through change, but not to this degree,” she said. “These changes are happening faster than animals and plants can adapt and we know this.”