Though eclipsed in 2020 by a global pandemic, the need for strong and cohesive action on climate change and environmental conservation has never been more dire. For policymakers, understanding both the value of ecosystem services and the complex financial impacts of environmental policies is key to ‘building back better’.
It was against this backdrop that the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI) delivered this year’s Canadian Pacific Alliance Scholarship (CPAS) short course in Environmental Economics. In November 2020, CIRDI brought together a group of 24 delegates from government ministries in Chile, Peru and Columbia, and more than a dozen Canadian and international experts from government, industry and academia to present and discuss topics related to environmental economics.
Experts from the United Nations, University of British Columbia (UBC) and from all levels of government offered insight on topics such as financial and policy tools for environmental protection, municipal planning for climate resilience and the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge in natural resource exploration and extraction. CIRDI worked closely with the UBC faculty lead for the CPAS project, Dr. Rashid Sumaila, Director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit at UBC’s Institute for Oceans and Fisheries, to build a curriculum that ran the gambit from global environmental economic theory to local and sector-specific applications.
Because of Covid-19 travel restrictions, the two-week course was delivered entirely online in the form of presentations, informal Q & A sessions, group discussions, assignments and, to close the session, group presentations.
Delving into both micro and macro-economic theory, the course work presented ranged from valuation and payment programs for ecosystem services (with Dr. Kai Chan of the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at UBC); the United Nations Environment Program’s Seed Capital Assistance Facility as a case study on de-risking (Ivo Mulder, UNEP); environmental policy initiatives in the BC context (Dr. Katya Rhodes, University of Victoria); and an overview on leading research, policy and practice in urban resilience (Dr. Nicola Tollin, University of Southern Denmark).
A presentation on intersectional gender-based analysis approaches was also offered to introduce a framework for incorporating a gender-specific lens in natural resource governance and in the process of assessing the impact of projects. This is in alignment with CIRDI’s focus on gender and the empowerment of women and girls through sustainable natural resource governance.
Final group presentations gave CPAS delegates an opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from other ministries and countries in applying a range of concepts learned to their specific contexts. Group presentations were a highlight of the course, with valuable knowledge shared and connections made across countries and jurisdictions. Both hypothetical and existing policy solutions were presented on issues ranging from the negative impacts of monoculture forests for cellulose production in the Araucania Region of Chile to the increasing threat of floods, landslides and water scarcity in Peru and Chile.
Some observations from delegates on the CPAS course:
“It was a great opportunity to learn about different topics; all of them approached from a very interesting perspective. I am left with the question and the challenge of understanding how to apply this knowledge in a reality as different as Chile. I see many gaps and barriers to overcome.”
“The course was beneficial; a lot of new knowledge can easily be included in my daily work. Some of the lectures were outstanding and embrace a comprehensive international vision.”
“Despite some inconveniences with the schedule due to time zoning issues, I really liked the course. The presenters were great, the contents were interesting, and the significant quantity of reading material and lectures were both up to date and sound. It exceeded my expectations. The approach was theoretical and participative.”
CIRDI is grateful to the following course presenters for sharing their significant expertise:
- Rashid Sumaila, Director and Professor, Fisheries Economics Research Unit at the Institute for Oceans and Fisheries, UBC; Professor, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (SPPGA), UBC.
- Louise Teh, PhD Resource Management and Environmental Studies; Research assistant on Fisheries Economics Research Unit, UBC
- Kai Chan, Professor, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES) and at the Institute for Oceans and Fisheries, UBC
- Katherine Gosselin, Director, Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM), Mining Association of Canada (MAC)
- Charles Dumaresq, VP, Science and Environmental Management, Mining Association of Canada (MAC)
- Katya Rhodes, VP-Programs at Canadian Society for Ecological Economics (CANSEE); Assistant Professor, University of Victoria
- Kevin Hanna, Director, UBC Centre for Environmental Assessment Research; Associate Member, Faculty of Forestry, UBC
- Jessica Perritt, Section Manager, Indigenous Knowledge & Reconciliation, Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO)
- Melissa Mayhew, Senior Environmental Scientist, Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO)
- Lana Eagle, Director, Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM); Senior Advisor & Consultant at Lana Eagle Consulting
- Nicola Tollin, professor in Urban Resilience, Dept of Technology an Innovation, University of Southern Denmark
- Ivo Mulder, Head Climate Finance Unit, UN Environment Program (UNEP)
- Jeff Carmichael, Division Manager, Business Development; Liquid Waste Services Department at Metro Vancouver Regional Government
- Ian Thomson, Policy Specialist on the Extractives Industry, Oxfam Canada
- Marion Doull, Senior Policy Analyst, Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, Government of Canada
- Eitan Dehtiar, Strategic Development Advisor, CESO
The Canadian Pacific Alliance Scholarship (CPAS) Program is funded by Global Affairs Canada and administered by the University of Alberta.