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Climate change, the Gulf of Mexico and the G8/G20
Friday, June 25th, 2010

Amid the discussions about this week’s G8 and G20 , there are pressing public issues that demand leaders’ attention. It is six months since Copenhagen, and the G8 Accountability Report raises concerns about member countries performance on the  environmental front.

This is happening at the same time that citizens across the world  witness the ongoing environmental and economic devastation caused by BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill in one of the world’s richest, most diverse and fragile marine ecosystems. With 60,000 barrels of oil continuing to spew into the Gulf of Mexico, there is a growing public dialogue about reorienting our approach to  to deal holistically with our economic, energy and environmental needs.

The Gulf of Mexico catastrophe  demonstrates  simple approaches to complex global challenges don’t work.  Economist Jeffrey Sachs in Commonwealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet and management guru Peter Senge in The Necessary Revolution, advocate transformative approaches to climate change that integrate economic, environmental and social dimensions through shared governance involving governments, the public, and corporate and community sectors.

A promising initiative with which I am involved (through Ascentum and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa) seeks to advance practical and theoretical knowledge about shared governance through citizen deliberations: the Alberta Climate Change Dialogue (ABCD). This five year project, funded by a $1 million Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) grant from the Social Science and Humanities Federation of Canada (SSHRC) with $3.1 million in matching and in-kind support, led by University of Alberta Principal Investigator Dr. David Kahane, focuses on citizen contributions. ABCD researchers and practitioners will explore, in partnerships with Alberta municipalities and provincial ministries, environmental NGOs and industry, how and to what degree citizen deliberations influence policy; and how and to what degree participation in formal deliberations shapes citizen knowledge, motivation, and capacity to act on climate issues.

Check out this website www.albertaclimatedialogue.ca or email  abcd@ualberta.ca for more information on the project.

– Mary Pat MacKinnon –

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