A Summary of Proceedings – by R.W. Sandford
Setting the Stage
Dr. Tom Pedersen Chair, Canadian Climate Forum
Dr. Pedersen opened Symposium 2015 by putting food security in a climate change context. He outlined several extreme weather events that have occurred in recent years with implications at national and international levels.
Agriculture – Adapting to an Uncertain Future
Ron Bonnett President, Canadian Federation of Agriculture
Mr. Bonnett noted the agricultural concerns growing increasingly severe for Canadian farmers as a result of climatic variations. They are now being faced with having to make difficult decisions related to their crop management systems.
Dr. Lemmen discussed food security and the adaptation imperative. He indicated that indirect impacts to food security will become progressively more important than direct impacts. Dr. Lemmen stressed the importance of achieving a low emissions target for a 50-50 chance of allowing successful adaptation.
Dr. Hans Hurni Founding President and Board Member, Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern
Dr. Hurni outlined the relationships between the global Earth system change and the interactions with land, agriculture and food security. He noted that improvement of agricultural land is limited by the nature of soils and climate, but much can be added to this inherent capacity through social and economic development.
Water – Past and Future
Dr. David Sauchyn Research Chair, Water Resources and Climate Change, University of Regina
Dr. Sauchyn drew comparisons between Canada and other parts of the world, illustrating common uncertainties related to water. Through discussions with farmers and government agricultural experts, the role of adaptive planning was recognized as being necessary, in addition to awareness and education, and the need to review and refresh plans.
Robert Sandford EPCOR Water Security Research Chair, United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment & Health
Mr. Sandford defined water and climate security, established relationships between them and outlined psychological resistances to open discussion of climate change and its potential effects. He called for a green revolution – agricultural revolution – in which Canada should play a lead role.
Dr. Lars-Otto Reiersen Executive Secretary, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme
Dr. Reiersen noted the role and structure of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme. He summarized an array of climate issues specific to the Arctic and the effects of an amplified temperature increase in this region compared to the rest of the globe. Dr. Reiersen surmised that, unlike Las Vegas, “what happens in the Arctic, does not stay in the Arctic”.
Can We Get to Resilient Sustainability?
Anne Hammill Director, Resilience, International Institute for Sustainable Development
Ms. Hammill discussed the terms food system and resilience, while explaining the difference between sustainability and resilience. She provided an example of Ugandan coffee production and ended with observations on the role of adaptive policies in improving the capacity to cope with change and uncertainty.
Dr. Richard Hebda Adjunct Professor, Heritage Potatoes Climate Project / University of Victoria
Dr. Hebda began by stressing the need for integrated frameworks, provided examples in Poland and Canada. He presented his ten “Honest Food Principles” for sustainability and proposed an Honest Food Secretariat and Institute which would be responsible for creating a living catalogue of honest food knowledge.
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Ambassador Chapuis shared his passion for the possibilities and prospects for the upcoming COP21 in Paris. He stated that climate impacts will challenge development worldwide in ways unfamiliar to us – food security being one of the issues. He noted that concepts of agroecology have to transform agriculture by 2030. He concluded that if we do not address climate issues today, future generations will not be in a position to counteract climate threat. And by then, “later will be too late”.
Honourable Glen Murray Ontario Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Minister Murray put forward that the biggest climate change impacts will be on water and food, and indicated that we are not prepared for these changes. He provided current examples and drew direct links between climate change and crises in different regions of the world. These circumstances suggest the need for a national food security policy in Canada.
Dr. Bernard Cantin Program Leader, Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia, International Development Research Centre
Dr. Cantin presented the different aspects of IDRC programming in climate change and food security. He indicated that climate change is a fundamental threat to global development. He introduced the subject of climate-smart agriculture which aims to increase productivity by limiting greenhouse gas emissions and increasing resilience.
Canadian Agriculture – Looking Forward
Don McCabe President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Past President of the Soil Conservation Council of Canada
Mr. McCabe stressed that, when looking forward in Canadian agriculture, there is a need for a dialogue, but that we also need to listen to farmers. Farmers, he proposed, are managers of carbon and nitrogen cycles with input from the water cycle. Moving forward, the soil equation will become critical.
Dr. Karin Wittenberg Dean, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Manitoba
Dr. Wittenberg offered guiding metrics for adaptation in agriculture, metrics which must be: comprehensive, unifying, simple, transparent, locally applicable and timeless. She explained that the three tools for successful adaptation in agriculture: government policy, innovation and education.
Dr. Susan Wood-Bohm Executive Director, Biological GHG Management Program, Alberta Innovates – Bio Solutions / Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation
Dr. Wood-Bohm described the climate change strategy developed by Alberta in recent years, as well as the province’s efforts in emissions-reducing innovation in agriculture.
Aquatic Protein – Past, Present & Future
Dr. Brian Riddell President and CEO, Pacific Salmon Foundation
Dr. Riddell noted that while some salmon populations are decreasing, some in the North Pacific are increasing. Noticeable climate change in 1990 led to changes in aquatic ecology through water column warming, increased stream sedimentation, and changes in the timing of peak flows. He noted that Pacific salmon will evolve, however to what pace and level of loss is unknown.
Edward Desson Fisheries Manager, Nisga’a Lisims Government
Mr. Desson began by outlining his work on salmon with the Nisga’a Nation – a program now entering its 25th year. He discussed the changes occurring to the water conditions as well as species themselves. He concluded that environmental conditions are changing quickly and local knowledge is the key to tracking the changes.
Dr. Ian Perry Research Scientist, Pacific Biological Station, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Dr. Perry elaborated on the risks to fisheries and oceans due to climate change on Canada’s three coasts. He noted that responses of fishing-dependent communities vary from short-term adaptation to long-term diversification to completely abandoning fishing and moving to southern cities. He argued that we need climate change governance options and must develop flexible management and livelihood options.
Prof. Tim Benton UK Champion, Global Food Security Programme
Prof. Benton began by illustrating the many ways in which food matters and defining food security as having access to safe and nutritious food at all times. He outlined the complex nature of supply chains, and further explored the complex domain of processed food. He discussed the increasing homogeneity in global food supplies and the risk implications for food security.
Food Security, the North and the Challenge of Seeds
Dr. Laurie Chan Research Chair, Toxicology and Environmental Health, University of Ottawa
Dr. Chan began by showing population distributions in the Canadian Arctic, noting that the diet of most is a combination of country food and southern market products. He discussed the long range transportation of contaminants from the south to the Arctic is now a serious food safety issues. He argued that a food security and safety policy is clearly needed in Canada’s North.
Geraldine Van Bibber Chancellor, Yukon College, member of the Gwich’in First Nation
Title: Traditional Food Security
Ms. Van Bibber presented some history on First Nations self-sufficiency with respect to food security. She outlined potential solutions for food security in the North, including those being developed at Yukon College. When adapting to climate change impacts, she suggested that “we can all do something”.
Jane Rabinowicz National Director, The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security
Ms. Rabinowicz discussed her observations related to seed banking and its relationship to adaptation at the local level. She outlined the work and successes of USC Canada in the domain of food security and seed system resilience. She urged all delegates to contribute to more productive dialogue of the kind experienced at Symposium 2015.