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‘An important step’

Harris Centre climate adaptation workshops support N.L. communities

By Janet Harron

Connecting people with resources and information on climate change.

That, and creating opportunities for communities to discuss its impacts in their region and collaborate to respond to those impacts, is the focus of a recent Harris Centre initiative.

Sepehr Khosravi, Newfoundland specialist for CLIMAtlantic, presents during the Pasadena workshop on Nov. 9.
Photo: Submitted

The initial concept for the initiative stemmed from a provincewide engagement and discussion series called Forecast N.L.

One of the recommendations to emerge from the provincewide discussions was to hold regional-level workshops. Participants could then discuss the changes they are seeing in and around their communities and figure out ways to collaborate on solutions.

Partnering with econext and CLIMAtlantic, the Harris Centre team visited Port Rexton, Bonavista, Port aux Basques, the Codroy Valley, Corner Brook, Grand Falls-Windsor and Pasadena to facilitate the workshops. Approximately 80 community members participated.

“Dealing with the effects of climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing municipalities today.” — Nicola Parker

Nicola Parker is the town clerk and manager for the town of Lark Harbour. She attended the Nov. 9 workshop in Pasadena on the island’s West Coast.

“Dealing with the effects of climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing municipalities today, and sessions such as these help us to gather information and make connections with people and resources we need to try and tackle what often seem to be insurmountable issues,” she said.

Marieke Gow is a tourism operator on the Bonavista Peninsula.

She says she appreciated being presented with the reality of what climate change will mean in her region going forward combined with strategies and resources for adaptation.

“My positive experience at the June workshop led to inviting CLIMAtlantic to speak at our recent Bonavista Peninsula fall tourism forum, where participants included leaders and operators in the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, community volunteers, municipal leaders, provincial government funders and managers, as well as federal funding partners,” Ms. Gow said. “This was an important step for our region as we collaborate to develop a climate change adaptation strategy that works for everyone.”

Need to be prepared

Many participants agreed that communities “can’t rely on one entity” to solve the problem and that they need to be prepared because climate change “is coming whether we like it or not.”

“These workshops help communities and individuals develop an increased understanding of adaptation strategies, reinforce the need for people to work together and, ultimately, offer a bit of optimism about what we can achieve as opposed to what we can’t,” said Chris Paterson, knowledge mobilization co-ordinator at the Harris Centre and project lead.

With econext and CLIMAtlantic as partners, the workshops introduced communities and individuals to the climate adaptation resources the organizations offer.

Kieran Hanley is the chief executive officer of econext, a not-for-profit association of businesses dedicated to accelerating clean growth in Newfoundland and Labrador.

He says climate change is impacting communities across Newfoundland and Labrador, but depending on where individuals live and how their town has evolved, people see it affecting them in different ways.

“These regional climate workshops are helping us gain a better understanding of what is most important in specific areas of the province, which will help us to do our work to advance adaptation efforts,” he said. “We are grateful for our partnership with the Harris Centre and CLIMAtlantic for this initiative.”

Any questions regarding the workshops should be directed to Christopher Paterson.

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