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Learning from Dutch innovations to address Canadian climate challenges

August 26, 2019
Photo by Natasja Wagner

Sometimes the biggest issues seem insurmountable on a global scale. Thinking about what each of us can do to cope with and adapt to climate change can be daunting.

That’s where the work of Professor Robin Cox comes in. From the School of Humanitarian Studies, Cox is the director of the Resilience by Design (RbD) lab at Royal Roads University. Cox’s work includes the RbD Innovation Lab’s Inspiring Climate Action Project, which is focused on fostering a professional learning community on climate and resilience.

In mid-August, Cox joined Dutch Consul-General Henk Snoeken to welcome Netherlands energy and climate consultant Marsha Wagner to a roundtable discussion with BC climate adaptation experts. The discussion explored innovative ways to involve working professionals in climate change action.

Wagner is the program director of the Human Capital Agenda within Topsector Energie  in the Netherlands, which is the driving force behind innovations that are necessary for the transition to an affordable, reliable and sustainable energy system for the country. She spoke about the Netherlands’ move to a low carbon economy, the public-private partnerships that have helped take it there and the country’s innovative learning communities that drive climate change education and strengthen the push towards a sustainable, adaptable and fitting workforce.

“Even with all the knowledge we have at the moment, we’re not going to realize this [climate improvement]. So that’s where the innovation agenda comes in, to analyze all the knowledge questions we have. What answers are required to meet this challenge?” Wagner says.

Wagner emphasized that regional action can translate globally, using the development of her country’s climate agreement (which involved more than 200 parties) as a solid example—those with disparate views can come together.

Wagner consults on the Dutch innovation agenda with the Duurzaamheidsfabriek fabriek [Sustainability Factory], a sustainability products accelerator. The Factory initiative is similar to organizations in BC supported through Innovation BC, such as the Foresight CleanTech accelerator. At the Factory, post-secondary students work with industry professionals to co-design technologies and products for a low-carbon economy.

Cox says the work of the RbD lab, building capacity with young people and professionals in the climate crisis, is work that resonates with that of Wagner.

“We can create a more organic kind of learning activity, where people are learning and making mistakes together,” Cox says. “I think we have an advantage at Royal Roads University, where we design education to happen in a social learning environment. I think we have some really good foundations to build on. Our Inspiring Climate Action Project is building capacity with working professionals here in BC, and is growing adaptation capacity through education and a learning community of informed professionals.”

Follow Prof. Cox and the RbD lab on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.   

Learn more about Marsha Wagner’s work.