Climate change poses a threat to peace, security, health, livelihoods, places and species. The United Nations project Future Earth has been designed to respond to these challenges. Its purpose is to advance scientific studies on questions of environmental impact, to merge science and public policy, and to develop the knowledge for responding effectively to the risks and opportunities of global environmental change by means of a united, international effort. In doing so, its secretariat expands across five global hubs including Paris, Tokyo, Stockholm, Boulder CO, and Montreal.
This ten year initiative will build and connect international research on the environment and sustainable development practices by concentrating on three main themes: Dynamic Planet, Global Development and Transformations towards Sustainability. A result of the Rio+20 Conference, the project is overseen by the International Council of Science, a non-governmental association that intends to strengthen international science for the benefit of society. Attracting new communities, building partnerships between various stakeholders, and increasing civic engagement are vital towards achieving the goals of global sustainability. The decentralized representation of the research initiative further promotes its effectiveness at the global, regional, national and local levels.
Though Canada itself comes under scrutiny for our Prime Minister’s actions towards climate change plans, Montreal likely secured its bid for several reasons. Diverse and high quality research networks are already in place, there is strength in the multicultural and multi-linguistic nature of the city, and the plethora of inexpensive office space offers suitable work room. Concordia University will house the program and all of the city's universities will be involved. The project’s extended presence in Montreal will likely bring increased international attention to the city, further the collaboration between Quebec researchers, and attract a variety of new ones. The Secretariat will support this by means of five main functions: coordination, communication and outreach, research enabling, capacity building, synthesis and foresight.
Various stakeholders and researchers will come together to develop a common vision, one that increases society's knowledge for facing the risks associated with environmental change. A comprehensive understanding of societal norms, values and perspectives must be in place to properly integrate global environmental change issues with development and sustainability problems. Only then can leaders implement proper action and we as a society can move forward through learned experiences.
Consequently, sustainable development seeks the balance between social, economic and environmental considerations. It opposes the current prominent trend of short-term development fueled by financial gains. This is directly associated with our consumption behaviours which detrimentally compromise the ability of future generations. Therefore, though climate change is the center of many political debates and agendas, impacts at the local level are very reliant on an active civic engagement that attempts to change our current habits and development patterns.
The Climate Marches, which took place globally in time for the UN Climate Summit on September 23rd, were an encouraging step made by citizens calling for international action. Though global leaders pledged billions for a global climate fund to help developing nations, set specific targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and promised greater use of clean energy, it remains to be seen. In 2015, in Paris, we'll see whether an agreement is signed. Furthermore, it will take more than capping emissions to adapt to climate change. Further research, collaboration, and understanding needs to take place and Future Earth is a sound initiative to promote this.
Do you think effective research and action is taking place in regards to the environment and sustainability? Has your city implemented initiatives to combat climate change? Please share in the comments below.
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