Good advice and inspiring conversations: Our ED shares her top webinar picks of the pandemic

I’m kinda “zoomed” out. 

The 100+ days of pandemic isolation served up lots of worry, new fears, sickness and death, and frankly, really bizarre social media newsfeeds. 

But then there were webinars provided by bright minds, caring, thoughtful, dedicated people who reached out and produced, in my opinion, some of the best antidotes we needed: fact-based analysis, best practice solutions, and top drawer advice. 

It is difficult to select my favourites from the past three months. There was the great advice to charities from Innoweave, featuring the former CEO of Canada’s Red Cross,  and the weekly sessions hosted by Waterkeepers for standard bearers like the Conservation Conservation. Efficiency Canada did a bang up job of bringing together practitioners, business leaders  and advocates together to strengthen our movement to invest rapidly in reducing energy use. It was just a treat to listen to two young biologists from the Nature Trust of New Brunswick just this week, taking all of us, virtually, on a beautifully-illustrated tour of toads, frogs and salamanders. 

But a particular series does stand out — one that veteran policy specialists like me really needed — our friends at Corporate Knights and its seven Canada-wide Building Back Better roundtables. Its content was excellent. Its experts were truly experts. It was rich with data and strong on smart policy steps. It didn’t shy away from potential hurdles and make the pathway appear all Pollyannaish. And a real bonus — NB’s own Community Forests International played a big part in the nature-based climate solutions with star Damien Hardie speaking specifically to forests carbon. (Other NB experts reviewed materials, too, mind you, included Conservation Council team members). 

The co-curators of the Corporate Knights series, including Toby Heaps, Celine Bak and Ralph Torrie, didn’t leave us with the webinars alone. On June 29 they released a detailed roadmap called Building Back Better with a Green Bold Recovery.

The report, put together with input from more than 100 of Canada’s most inspired minds, outlines investments that the federal government could make to set Canada on a path to a resilient, net-zero economic recovery. 

It brings together seven white papers on these key program areas:

  • deep retrofits of homes and workplaces;
  • accelerated electric vehicle (EV) uptake;
  • support for active mobility (e.g. walking and biking);
  • greening of the electricity grid;
  • decarbonizing of heavy industry;
  • nature-based climate solutions for our forests and farmland; and,
  • making Canada a leading supplier of EV components and zero-carbon natural resources.

The entire opus will make a great addition to your summer reading list — but just to whet your appetite here is some content that closely aligns the Conservation Council’s advice to Premier Blaine Higgs in our open letter, now co-signed by over 700 NBers:

“A study by the International Monetary Fund on climate policy and recovery found that environmental measures have been a valuable part of fiscal stimulus packages, emphasizing that ‘energy efficiency investments are particularly well-suited to stimulus spending,’ because they can be executed quickly. 

Aside from jobs, this burst of investment would help to create economies of scale and bring costs down, especially for building energy retrofits.”

“For as little as 0.1% of gross domestic product, Canada can rejuvenate its forest and farm ecosystems while creating thousands of jobs.”

“Climate-related water disasters are costly, rising to $28 billion between 2000 and 2017. Restoring natural infrastructure also saves money by decreasing damage to roads and other built infrastructure. Communities struggling with the tax revenue losses of COVID-19 can’t afford to spend 80% of their budgets on road maintenance with costs rising due to climate change. Natural infrastructure can help protect roads from flash floods and keep repair costs down.” 

And, finally: 

“Given the important role of our forests, wetlands and farmlands for rural employment and in the transition to a net-zero economy, the federal and provincial governments should establish policies and investments that support them if we’re to meet our climate commitments in economically sound ways. These range from protecting larger swaths of forests, wetlands and marine areas, to improving logging and farming practices, to determining credible carbon-offset frameworks.”

Don’t worry — there is plenty of content for you electric car enthusiasts, for those of you who want to green the electricity grid and design way better new homes, those focused on wind and solar projects, or for those diving into the areas of clean technology and the transformation of our industrial sector, too! 

Please feel free to let me know what you think of the report. 

-Lois