Since 2015, I have been working on interdisciplinary collaborations to promote action on climate change in Canada. As Climate Officer at the McGill Office of Sustainability, I am responsible for ensuring continued progress on the university’s path to carbon neutrality by developing and supporting climate-related projects on McGill’s campuses. Prior to that, I was research assistant in the McGill Biology Department, where I coordinated multi-stakeholder projects with academia, the federal government, Indigenous communities, public institutions, NGOs, and SMEs. In that role, I co-authored, co-edited, and copy-edited numerous reports and editorials as the researcher and administrator for Sustainable Canada Dialogues, a cross-disciplinary network of 80+ scholars and an initiative of the UNESCO-McGill Chair for Dialogues on Sustainability. I conducted my Master’s research in Panama, using a participatory action-research approach to identify social and ecological influences on deforested Indigenous landscapes with local Indigenous collaborators.
Universities are uniquely positioned to be living labs for society, where we can both develop knowledge and experiment with solutions. McGill is committed to achieving carbon neutrality, meaning net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, by 2040. The target includes direct and indirect sources of emissions. The university’s strategy is to first reduce emissions at the source, only offsetting emissions that cannot be avoided such as those from commuting and necessary air travel. The target is aligned with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) decarbonisation timeline and includes strong commitments to significantly reduce the university’s carbon footprint. Universities can be like mini cities—with tens of thousands of faculty, staff, and students, thousands of hectares of land, and entire units devoted to infrastructure, landscapes, and governance. It means that, like broader society, we have many values and priorities that can be urgent and competing. Action on climate change entails changes to the status quo—from institutions to individual behaviours—for seemingly long-term payoff. Solving environmental challenges will require that we negotiate these complexities. We have much learning to do and lessons to share. I hope our initiatives will help educate future leaders and inspire other institutions in Montreal and beyond.
For the past 13+ years, I have studied and worked at the interface of ecology and society. These years of experience have taught me that action-oriented, positive communication is an effective means of science outreach. They have also taught me to be open-minded, with a healthy dose of scepticism, and focused on big solutions while grounded in reality. I have tried to base my contribution to McGill’s path to carbon neutrality on these lessons and the philosophy that sustainability should improve people’s lives. We should find incentives for sustainable behaviour, rather than create barriers to unsustainable behaviour. Apart from calculating our emissions, my focus as Climate Officer has included helping develop initiatives related to sustainable travel and biodiversity protection and managing our research-based reforestation project with Indigenous partners in Panama to offset difficult-to-reduce emissions.
MOTIVATION FOR AND COMMITMENT TO CREATING A BETTER AND MORE SUSTAINABLE PLANET
I have always been drawn to science, but in particular, the application of knowledge towards the betterment of society and the project of protecting nature, both awe-inspiring and life-giving. I am passionate about using evidence to act on environmental and societal challenges and an advocate for climate leadership that focuses on solutions and opportunities. I believe that critical thinking and dialogue are the roads to progress. I look forward to expanding my expertise and skills to better support the transition to a sustainable society in our cities.
Find out more:
EN FRANÇAIS / IN FRENCH
Depuis 2015, je travaille sur des collaborations interdisciplinaires pour promouvoir l’action sur les changements climatiques au Canada. En tant que responsable du climat au Bureau du développement durable de McGill, je suis chargée de veiller à ce que l’université continue de progresser sur la voie de la neutralité carbone en développant et en soutenant des projets liés au climat sur les campus de McGill. Avant cela, j’étais assistante de recherche au département de biologie de McGill, où je coordonnais des projets à enjeux multipartites avec le milieu universitaire, le gouvernement fédéral, les communautés autochtones, les institutions publiques, les ONG et les PME.
À ce titre, j’ai coécrit, coédité et édité de nombreux rapports et éditoriaux en tant que chercheur et administratrice de Sustainable Canada Dialogues, un réseau interdisciplinaire de plus de 80 universitaires et une initiative de la Chaire UNESCO-McGill pour le dialogue sur le développement durable.
J’ai effectué ma recherche de maîtrise au Panama, en utilisant une approche de recherche-action participative pour identifier les influences sociales et écologiques sur les paysages autochtones déboisés avec des collaborateurs autochtones locaux.