FLASHBACK TO 2008: “Blue Ecology and Climate Change” – an introduction to Michael Blackstock

Note to Reader:

In May 2008, the Program on Water Governance at the University of British Columbia hosted the second of two workshops on Sustainable Water Infrastructure Management in Canada. Kim Stephens,  representing the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, was invited to make a keynote presentation built around the theme of climate change adaptation.

Re-Examine Climate Change from a ‘Water First’ Angle

“My presentation was organized in three parts. First, I introduced the across-Canada audience to our BC adaptation of the ‘design with nature’ philosophy. Then I talked about CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island to provide an example of new forms of governance. The third and final part dealt with the linkage of infrastructure to climate change and infrastructure,” recalls Kim Stephens.

“To capture audience attention and set a tone, I opened with a reference to Blue Ecology and Climate Change, an article by Michael Blackstock that was published in the BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management.”

“An imperative for achieving sustainability is to ‘design with nature’ – a term coined by Ian McHarg (in the 1960s) that calls on us to mimic the natural environment. The focus is sustainability with respect to terrestrial and aquatic habitat.”

“As climate change and urban growth and densification processes progress, water risks increase. But we can adapt, or change direction, by improving the built environment and protecting the natural environment. A design with nature is key to climate change adaptation.”

How We Can Adapt

“Michael Blackstock proposes that we re-examine climate change  from a ‘water first’ angle because the rhythm of water’s transformations between solid, liquid, and gaseous states on our planet is undergoing a significant change, and at a significant rate.”

“He sees as essential the acknowledgement of water’s central functional and spiritual roles in our world, and urges us to apply both respect and science-based understanding as we develop collaborative climate change mitigation strategies and instill this respect and understanding in younger generations.”

“Times have changed, concludes Michael Blackstock. He writes that no longer is our goal ‘sustainable development’—to plan for a high standard of living for our children. He says that our goal must now be ‘sustainable survival’—to plan and behave in a crossculturally collaborative manner that ensures children, generations from now, can survive with dignity in a world where respect for water and our climate is ubiquitous.”

To Learn More:

To download a copy of the article by Michael Blackstock, click on Blue ecology and cllimate change.

To download a copy of the PowerPoint presentation by Kim Stephens, click on Our Climate is Changing…..Now What? — “Dealing with Uncertainty and Managing Risk: How we can adapt

To download an extract from the workshop report that elaborates on the PowerPoint slides, click here.

Extracted from an article originally posted in May 2008