2021 Conference

Adaptation: Building Resilience in the Global Climate Emergency

Watch the conference: Select which panel you like to watch by clicking the three lines in the top right corner of video below


It is abundantly clear that the climate is changing with profound impacts on our environment, economy, society and our security. The main cause is human activity, primarily as a result of two centuries of greenhouse gas emissions from the production and consumption of fossil fuels. It will take a generation or more to transition fully to a non-fossil fuel world. As a result, future impacts are inevitable and will continue until, and even after, the world achieves net-zero emissions and re-balances the carbon cycle. The inescapable conclusion is that adaptation, primarily through enhanced resilience, is imperative if we and the environment on which we depend are to survive.

The aim of this year’s Policy Conference is to help enhance the national and global dialogue on the role of adaptation in addressing the threats of climate change. The conference will examine policies that will not only help to shield us from the impacts of climate change but provide ancillary benefits that will make our lives, our communities, our economies and our environment more sustainable. The conference will build on previous studies such as the Council of Canadian Academies’ Experts Panel on Climate Change Risks and Adaptation Potential, and other initiatives such as the Flagship Report of the Global Commission on Adaptation.

The conference will examine a range of potential climate change impacts in Canada, for example on food and agriculture, community infrastructure, and health. The range is large and we will be forced to make choices. Fortunately, there is a rich base of research which we will distill for the conference. We plan to have representation from municipal, provincial and federal governments as well as subject experts. We will choose three or four sectors and explore, through a series of “what if” scenarios, potential adaptation responses to mitigate the climate change impacts. For each set of responses we will explore the possible conflicts and ancillary benefits for greenhouse gas reductions.

The most devastating impacts of climate change, in terms of lives lost and property damage, will be inflicted on developing countries. Since developing countries are low emitters of greenhouse gases, they are the least responsible for climate change, yet bear its worst consequences. There is thus a moral obligation on the rich countries to support their adaptation efforts. In addition to a focus on Canada, the conference will explore a range of impacts of extreme weather on these developing countries as well as actions and resources required to build their resilience.

Participants will help generate a report with clear conclusions and recommendations to be forwarded to political leaders and to be shared widely as a contribution to public discourse of this critical issue. The Group of 78 will continue to advocate to governments on these recommendations in the years ahead.


All times are EDT, UTC -4

Thursday, Sept. 23, 10:00 a.m. OPENING

Acknowledgement of the Land/Prayer with Elder Verna McGregor, Algonquin Nation.

Welcome to the Conference – Why Adaptation: Roy Culpeper, Chair, Group of 78.

40th Anniversary of the Original Statement that launched the Group of 78

Thursday, Sept. 23, 10:30 a.m. Keynote Address, Jayati Ghosh: Global Adaptation Challenges

Reforms to the global economic architecture are urgently needed to mobilize the necessary resources for Adaptation in the developing world.

Speaker: Jayati Ghosh, Development Economist, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, USA.


Regardless of climate change, governments and businesses will continue to spend significant amounts of money building new and maintaining existing physical infrastructure in order to provide services and create products. What are the ways in which this infrastructure can also shield Canadians from the now inevitable impacts of climate change?

Moderator:  John Stone, former member IPCC.

Speaker:  Paul Kovacs, Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction/University of Western Ontario.

Speaker:  Adam Fenech, Climate Change & Adaptation, University of Prince Edward Island.

Monday, Sept. 27, 1:00 p.m. PANEL ON FOOD ADAPTATION

How do we redesign current food systems, in Canada and globally, to ensure equitable production and distribution of healthy food while preserving and restoring ecosystems?

Moderator: Bruce Currie-Alder, Canada’s International Development Research Centre, Program leader climate resilience.

Speaker: Sophia Murphy, Executive Director, Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy.

Speaker: Darrin Qualman, National Farmers Union/Author.

Speaker: Sandra Yeboah & Nii Adjei Sowah, University of Ghana.

Tuesday, Sept. 28, 1:00 p.m. PANEL ON HEALTH ADAPTATION

With an increase in disease, heat deaths, mental stress and physical risk because of climate change, what needs to change with health policies and systems to build resilience to meet these challenges?

Moderator: Christopher Huggins, Associate Professor, International Development and Global Studies.

Speaker: Janet Hatcher-Roberts, University of Ottawa; Former Executive Director, Canadian Society for International Health.

Speaker: Nicholas Robinson, Environment Prof. Emeritus, Pace University, NYC; Former Legal Advisor, International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Speaker: Didacus Namanya, Geographer, Ministry of Health, Uganda.

Wednesday, Sept. 29, 12:00 p.m. KEYNOTE Address, Bob Rae: Why Climate Adaptation is Such a Critical Issue

Speaker: Bob Rae, Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations.

Wednesday, Sept. 29, 1:00 p.m. Communities Fit for the Future:  Municipal Leadership, Doughnut Economics and adapting to a changing Climate.

A presentation on how municipalities can take leadership in meeting the challenges of the 21st century through adopting frameworks that track environmental and social outcomes and focus on action to tackle the greatest challenge of our time, climate change.

Moderator:  Susan Tanner, VP Group of 78; Secretary, OREC; Chair Conference Organizing Committee.

Speaker Ben Geselbracht, Councillor, City of Nanaimo.

Speaker: Tyler Brown, Councillor, City of Nanaimo.

Thursday, Sept. 30, 10:00 a.m. KEYNOTE Address, Rachel Bezner Kerr : Adaptation, food security and the challenge of financing Adaptation in Africa

Speaker: Rachel Bezner Kerr, Professor of Global Development, Cornell University.


Financing for adaptation to global warming are grossly inadequate; developments in multilateral finance, food and agriculture are reshaping the multiple challenges involved.

Moderator: Sara Alvarado, Executive Director, Institute for Sustainable Finance (ISF)

Speaker:  Jomo Sundaram, Jomo K. Sundaram, Senior Adviser at the Khazanah Research Institute, Malaysia. Multilateral finance, food systems, and sustainable climate Adaptation.

Speaker:  Blair Feltmate, INTACT Centre on Climate Adaptation, University of Waterloo, Adaptation policy and practice in Canada.

Speaker:  Art Hunter, Developer of a major project demonstrating how an Ottawa home has adapted to not relying on fossil fuels or grid power by using solar power and geothermal energy using private financing.


A final session for all full conference participants to comment on a draft set of conclusions and recommendations emerging from the conference presentations and discussions, prepared by the conference planning committee.

Speaker Bios in Order of Appearance & Conference Committee

Thursday, Sept. 23, 10:00 a.m. OPENING

Susan Tanner, Vice-Chair Group of 78; Secretary, OREC; Chair Conference Organizing Committee

Susan Tanner, L.L.B., M.E.S., L.L.M While holding senior positions in both Federal and Ontario governments Susan has maintained an active role in the non-profit community. In 1982, Susan was the founding chairperson of LEAF (Legal Education and Action Fund) to promote the rights of women under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In 1995, Friends of the Earth (FoE) Canada accepted a UN Environmental Prize for work on the Montreal Protocol done under her leadership. Susan continues to be actively involved with organizations such as Ottawa Renewable Energy Coop, Women for Nature (Nature Canada) and Group of 78.

Government positions included: Senior Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Justice on Gender Equality and Diversity; Forum Lead, WUF Habitat Jam; Member of the Ontario Environmental Assessment Board; Vice-Chair, Social Assessment Review Board; and mediator for the Ontario Grievance Settlement Board.

She holds a Masters of Environmental Studies and a Masters of Law.

Roy Culpeper, Chair, Group of 78

Roy Culpeper is an Honorary Senior Fellow of the University of Ottawa’s School of International Development and Global Studies, Adjunct Professor at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, and a Fellow of the Broadbent Institute. He is Chair of the Group of 78, and founding Chair of the Coalition for Equitable Land Acquisitions and Development in Africa (CELADA). From January until May 2011 he was Fulbright Canada Visiting Research Chair at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. Previously he was President and Chief Executive Officer of The North-South Institute, Ottawa. Earlier in his career he was an official at the World Bank in Washington, the federal Departments of Finance and External Affairs in Ottawa, and the Planning Secretariat of the Government of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

Roy Culpeper obtained his Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Toronto. He has published widely on the issues of international development, finance and global governance.

Thursday, Sept. 23, 10:30 a.m. Keynote Address, Jayati Ghosh: Global Adaptation Challenges

Jayati Ghosh, Development Economist, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, USA

Her research interests include globalisation, international trade and finance, employment patterns, macroeconomic policy, gender issues, poverty and inequality. She has authored and/or edited a dozen books and around 200 scholarly articles. Recent books include Demonetisation Decoded: A critique of India’s monetary experiment and India and the International Economy, (Oxford University Press 2015). She has received several national and international prizes, including the M. Adisheshaiah Award for distinguished contributions to the social sciences in India in 2015, and the International Labour Organisation’s Decent Work Research Prize for 2010. She has advised governments in India and other countries. She was the Chairperson of the Andhra Pradesh Commission on Farmers’ Welfare in 2004, and Member of the National Knowledge Commission reporting to the Prime Minister of India (2005-09). She is the Executive Secretary of International Development Economics Associates (www.networkideas.org), an international network of heterodox development economists. She has consulted for several international organisations including ILO, UNDP, UNCTAD, UN-DESA, UNRISD and UN Women and is member of several international commissions. She writes regularly for popular media like newspapers, journals and blogs.

Friday, Sept. 24, 1:00 p.m.          Panel on Infrastructure Adaptation

John Stone, Past IPCC Vice-Chair

John Stone is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Carleton University, Canada. He received a Ph.D. in Chemical Spectroscopy (1969) from the University of Reading, UK.

His experiences since retiring from the Canadian Public Service in 2005 include: Visiting Fellow, International Development Research Council. He was a Member of the Bureau of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and most recently a Lead Author for the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. He is Board member of the Pembina Institute.

Paul Kovacs, executive director, Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction; University of Western Ontario

Paul Kovacs is founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction at Western University. ICLR has been designated by the International Council for Science as an international centre of excellence for integrated research on disaster risk.

For more than 20 years Paul was a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading forum for the study of climate issues. The Panel won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change”. He is Canada’s leading authority on insurance and climate extremes, and has been a contributing author to numerous international and Canadian reports on reducing the risk of loss from earthquakes, flood and severe wind to achieve disaster resilience.

Paul was appointed Chair of Ontario’s Advisory Panel on Climate Change in 2019. He was elected Chair of the Global Alliance of Disaster Research Institutes in 2021. For more than thirty-five years Paul has been a popular commentator on disaster science and economic policy. He has written more than 200 publications and is a passionate champion for insurance, disaster resilience and adaptation to climate extremes.

Adam Fenech, Climate Change & Adaptation, University of Prince Edward Island

Dr. Fenech has worked extensively in the area of climate change since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change First Assessment Report in 1988. He has edited 8 books on climate change, most recently on Global Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainability in the Middle East.  Dr. Fenech has worked for Harvard University researching the history of the science/policy interfaces of climate change. He has represented Canada at international climate negotiating sessions; written climate policy speeches for Canadian Environment Ministers; and authored Canadian reports on climate change to the United Nations. Dr. Fenech has taught at the University of Toronto as well as the Smithsonian Institution for over 20 years, and lectures regularly at universities across Canada and around the world. Dr. Fenech shared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He is presently the Associate Dean of the School of Climate Change and Adaptation at the University of Prince Edward Island. He is also the Director of the University of Prince Edward Island’s Climate Research Lab that conducts research on the vulnerability, impacts and adaptation to climate change, where his virtual reality depiction of sea level rise has won international awards including one from MIT for communicating coastal science. He maintains the largest fleet of drones at a Canadian university including the largest drone in the country with a four-metre wingspan.

Monday, Sept. 27, 1:00 p.m.      Panel on Food Adaptation

Bruce Currie-Alder, Canada’s International Development Research Centre, Program leader climate resilience

Bruce Currie-Alder leads on climate resilience at Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) investing in evidence that contributes to adaptation across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. IDRC partners with the UK Government to enable poor and marginalized communities in the global South to be more resilient to climate change in the near and longer term, and with the Government of the Netherlands to support the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN). Bruce’s expertise spans environmental science and international development, and he holds a PhD in public policy.

Sophia Murphy, Executive Director, Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy

Sophia Murphy is the executive director of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP). Sophia is a food systems and international economy expert with 30 years of professional experience, including as a board chair, program director, policy analyst and published writer. A policy expert and advocate who has focused on resilient food systems, agriculture and international trade, Sophia has worked primarily with civil society organizations, as well as with government, intergovernmental organization and universities.

Sophia originally came to IATP in 1997 as a senior associate to work on trade. She directed IATP’s trade and global governance program from 2000 to 2006, and later served as a senior advisor until 2018. She joined IATP from Geneva, where she had worked for two years with the United Nations Nongovernmental Liaison Service. For over a decade, she operated a successful independent consultancy business. Most recently, she served as research director and advisor on agriculture, trade and investment within the Economic Law and Policy Program at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). She served two consecutive terms as a member of the steering committee of the High-Level Panel of Experts to the United Nations Committee on World Food Security.

Sophia has a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University and a MSc from the London School of Economics in Social Policy and Planning in Developing Countries. She is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia.

Darrin Qualman, National Farmers Union/Author

Darrin Qualman is Director of Climate Crisis Policy and Action for Canada’s National Farmers Union.  He is the author of the 2019 report Tackling the Farm Crisis and the Climate Crisis, the 2019 book Civilization Critical: Energy, Food, Nature, and the Future, and the 2021 report Imagine If: A Vision of a Near-Zero-Emission Farm and Food System for Canada.  His research, writing, and educational pursuits over the past 20 years have all aimed at creating a big-picture, long-term view of how humans turn nature, energy sources, and technologies into cities, food supplies, manufacturing systems, and cultures.  He has academic degrees in history, biology, and political studies.  He farmed for many years in Saskatchewan, raising grains, oilseeds, pulse crops, and specialty crops. 

Sandra Yeboah, University of Ghana

Sandra Obiri-Yeboah is a final year PhD candidate at the Centre for Migration studies at the University of Ghana. She is currently working on her PhD theses in the area of climate change impact, psychological wellbeing and migration with special emphasis in Northern Ghana. She is currently a graduate assistant at Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy at the University of Ghana. She is a Queen Elizabeth Scholar under climate change and societal transformation. She also participates in seminars and conferences which has enhanced her scope and knowledge base in gender and societal discourse. She holds a degree in M.A. Population Studies from University of Ghana. After her Master’s, she joined the National Population Council, Ghana, working in the Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Unit.

Nii Adjei Sowah, University of Ghana

Alexander Nii Adjei Sowah holds a PhD from the Institute for Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana and an MPhil degree in Sociology. His PhD examined the influence of inheritance and land tenure arrangements on adaptation to climate variability impacts by smallholder farmers in the Savanna and Transition zones of Ghana. He focuses his research on adaptation to social and environmental changes through the perspectives of Gender and Development, Social Exclusion, Adaptation to Social Systems and Education. These interests have been shaped and fostered by his desire to explore as well as understand how social systems, institutions and other forms of social arrangements influence gender relations and their implication on access to and control of resources. His interest in climate adaptions was triggered by his hands-on practical work experience working on the USAID-ADVANCE program in the Upper East Region as a Business facilitator. He is a recipient of a DAAD doctorial fellowship award, an experiential learning grant on the Sustainable Climate Adaptation component of the Building Stronger Universities (BSU II) program funded by DANIDA and a Doctoral Grant from the University of Ghana Pan-African Doctoral Academy. He is currently a Queen Elizabeth Scholar on the Societal Transformation and Climate Change component.

Tuesday, Sept. 28, 1:00 p.m.      Panel on Health Adaptation

Christopher Huggins, Associate Professor, International Development and Global Studies

Chris Huggins is an associate professor in the School of International Development and Global Studies at the University of Ottawa, Canada. His research focuses on agricultural development, rural livelihoods, and natural resource management in Africa. He has consulted for major United Nations agencies and international non-governmental organizations, worked with Human Rights Watch, and was for several years a Research Fellow at the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS), Nairobi. He has researched climate adaptation in Rwanda, as an extension of research published in his book, Agricultural Reform in Rwanda: Authoritarianism, Markets, and Zones of Governance, with Zed Books in October 2017. His interest in climate change adaptation and health lies in the nexus between food systems and public health, which is a key component of his teaching on food security and international development. He has also developed an online course (in collaboration with a colleague at Carleton University), Interdisciplinary Approaches to Food Systems, Environment, and Public Health.

Janet Hatcher-Roberts, University of Ottawa; Former Executive Director, Canadian Society for International Health

Janet Hatcher Roberts has over 30 years experience in bridging communities, evidence and policy both nationally and internationally.  Currently, Janet is the Co-Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre on Knowledge Translation, Technology Assessment for Health Equity at Bruyere Research Institute, University of Ottawa. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Medicine, School of Epidemiology and Public Health, at the University of Ottawa. Through her work at the WHOCC and the university she teaches courses on health systems and global governance and carries out research focussing on equity, health systems and global health.

From 1998-2013, she was the Executive Director of the Canadian Society for International Health where she oversaw the design and implementation of global health systems strengthening projects in Africa, Asia, Latin and Central America and Eastern Europe funded by CIDA, IDRC, World Bank, WHO and PAHO. She served as the technical representative for PAHO in Canada from 1998-2002. She spent 2007-2008 in Geneva where she was Director of the Migration Health Department with the International Organization for Migration, now UN Migration.

In her volunteer time, Janet was the Chair of the Board for Action Canada for Population Development and was a Board member and Past Treasurer of the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research. She was a Board member of the US-based Council of Graduate Foreign Nurses (CGFNS)from 2007- 2016. From 2009-2019, she was appointed by an Order in Council as Board member to Public Heath Ontario (PHO) where she also sat on the Strategic Planning Committee and Governance Committee. From 2018 to 2020, she has served as an ex-officio member and now board member of the Ottawa Centre Liberal EDA. She also served for four years on the National Board of Make Poverty History. Since January 2021 she has served as a member of the Advisory Committee for the newly formed Pegasus Institute and is a member of the newly formed Transition committee for the new Canadian Association for Global Health, an amalgamation of the Canadian Society for International Health and the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research.

Nicholas Robinson, Environment Prof. Emeritus, Pace University, NYC; Former Legal Advisor, International Union for the Conservation of Nature

Nicholas A. Robinson’s endeavors to establish and advance environmental law began in the 1960s. He participated in the 1972 United Nations Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, where is joined the Environmental Law Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  He specializes in international and comparative environmental law. Through IUCN, he participated in the drafting of the 1982 UN World Charter for Nature (UN General Assembly Resolution 37/7) and the drafts of the 1992 UN Convention on Biological Diversity. He edited the traveaux preparatoires for the UN Conference on Environment & Development, the “Earth Summit” (Agenda 21 & The UNCED Proceedings, 6 volumes). He established the environmental legal education program for the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in New York, and led the creation of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law, with 210 university law school members world-wide. He taught the international and comparative environmental law courses for Yale University for two decades, and at University College London  and the National University of Singapore. He has lectured in universities throughout Brazil, China, Canada, Kenya, Egypt, The Gulf, Russia and Europe and the USA. IUCN twice elected him to chair its Commission on Environmental Law and he served for 8 years as IUCN Legal Advisor. AT IUCN’s World Conservation Congress in Marseille, 3-11 September 2021, he participated in establishing IUCN’s first policies on zoonosis and measures needed to cope with further emerging infectious diseases.  He is currently the Executive Governor of the International Council for Environmental Law (Spain), serves on the Board of the Environmental Law Institute (Washington, DC) and is the Gilbert & Sarah Kerlin Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law, and University Professor for the Environment at Pace University. He is a graduate of Brown University (1967) and Columbia University School of Law (1970). 

Didacus Bambaiha Namanya, Geographer, Ministry of Health, Uganda

Mr. Namanya is a skilled senior health geographer, with over 20 years experience working at the Ministry of Health Uganda. In this role he is the focal person for climate change and human health, in charge of public health mapping and geospatial analysis. With this role he has spearheaded articulation of climate change adaptation in national health policy and strategies and intersectoral collaboration with health-related ministries and agencies.

He holds an MPH from Clarke International University, a BA Geography from Makerere University Kampala, Uganda, and a Post Graduate    Diploma in Education (MuK). He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Climate Change Adaptation from Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) in Sweden. He is currently pursuing a PhD in public health at Uganda Martyrs University.

Over the years Mr. Namanya has been involved in several health and climate related research projects at national and international levels e.g. Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate Change (IHACC) supported by IDRC, HEALTHY FUTURES supported by European Union and the East Africa Vulnerability, Impacts, and Adaptation assessment (VIA) undertaken by the East African Community (EAC), with support from the USAID/Kenya and East Africa Planning for Resilience in East Africa through Policy, Adaptation, Research, and Economic Development (PREPARED) Project. These have resulted in numerous publications.

 Mr. Namanya has also presented lectures related to climate change and health at Makerere University, Uganda, McGill University and University of Ottawa in Canada and University of Angers in France among others.

Wednesday, Sept. 29, 12:00 pm.   Keynote Address, Bob Rae: Canada’s Role in the Global Context

Bob Rae, Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations

Bob Rae is the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations in New York.

Mr. Rae served as Premier of Ontario from 1990-1995, and interim Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada from 2011-2013. He was elected to federal and provincial parliaments 11 times between 1978 and 2013.

Mr. Rae received his Honours B.A. in Modern History from the University of Toronto, an M.Phil. in Politics as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, and graduated from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law in 1977. He was named a Queen’s Counsel in 1984.

Mr. Rae’s return to Parliament for the constituency of Toronto Centre in 2008 led to his appointment as Foreign Affairs spokesman for his party, and to his election as interim Leader in 2011.

Mr. Rae is also a Senior Fellow at Massey College, and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights. He served as the Chief Negotiator for the 9 First Nations that are members of the Mattawa Tribal Council in Northern Ontario between 2013 and 2018.

In October 2017, Mr. Rae was appointed as Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar. In this role, he engaged in diplomatic efforts to address the crisis in the country’s Rakhine State and wrote the report “Tell Them We’re Human” in 2018. In March 2020, he was named by Prime Minister Trudeau to be Canada’s Special Envoy on Humanitarian and Refugee Issues. This led to his report “A Global Pandemic Requires a Global Response”, which was made public shortly before his appointment as Ambassador to the UN.

Bob Rae is a Privy Councillor, a Companion of the Order of Canada, a member of the Order of Ontario, and has numerous awards and honorary degrees from institutions in Canada and around the world.

Wednesday, Sept. 29, 1:00 p.m.           Communities Fit for the Future:  Municipal Leadership, Doughnut Economics and adapting to a changing Climate.

Ben Geselbracht, Councillor, City of Nanaimo

Ben Geselbracht is a Nanaimo city councillor and Regional District director.  He is currently the 2nd Vice President of the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities.   Ben is passionate about developing the green circular economy of the future.  He worked hard in getting the Nanaimo region to adopt an ambitious target of diverting 90% of its waste from landfill by 2030 and has since been stewarding implementation of the plan to achieve this as chair of the Nanaimo Regional Solid Waste committee.   Mobilizing local government to be more effective in supporting a resilient economy that is environmentally sustainable and meets the needs of all community members is a central focus of his work.  Ben believes strongly that we must address head on the challenge of climate change and that in order to do this successfully issues of social inequity must also be addressed.”  

Tyler Brown, Councillor, City of Nanaimo

Chair of the Board of Directors at the Regional District of Nanaimo.

He holds a M.Sc. in Urban Policy and Practice at University of Glasgow (2011) and Certificate, Principles and Practice of New Urbanism (2014),

Thursday, Sept. 30, 10:00 a.m. KEYNOTE Address: Adaptation, food security and the challenge of financing Adaptation in Africa

Rachel Bezner Kerr, Professor of Global Development at Cornell University

Rachel Bezner Kerr is a Professor in Global Development at Cornell University. She does participatory research in Africa on agroecology, gender, climate change adaptation, food and nutrition security. She has published over 70 scientific articles, in journals such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. She is a Coordinating Lead Author for Chapter 5 (the ‘food chapter’) for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change upcoming report on climate change impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation. In 2019 she was co-author of a report on agroecology for the United Nations Committee for World Food Security. Her long-term participatory research is in collaboration with a farmer-led organization in Malawi, the Soils, Food and Healthy Communities organization. Rachel was born in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada and maintains close ties with Canadian family and colleagues.


Sara Alvarado, Executive Director, Institute for Sustainable Finance (ISF)

Sara Alvarado is Executive Director, Institute for Sustainable Finance, which fuses academia, private sector and government to shape Canada’s sustainable finance. She is former Head of Risk, Canada Infrastructure Bank, where she built the inaugural ERM function. Prior to the CIB, she was Senior Officer, Infrastructure New Products & Special Transactions at the European Investment Bank (EIB) based in Luxembourg, focusing on catalysing private sector investments into green infrastructure in policy priority sectors with support from the EU. Before moving to the EU, Sara spent combined 15 years in Private Placements and Infrastructure as Managing Director at Manulife and Director at Sun Life, plus 10 years at Scotia Capital.

Sara is current Co-Chair at the World Economic Forum’s Infrastructure 4.0 Initiative. She is Board Member at Cambridge Memorial Hospital and past Board Member at CFA Society Toronto. She is a CFA charterholder and an MBA from Edinburgh Business School.

Jomo Sundaram, Economist; Senior Adviser, Khazanah Research Institute, Malaysia

Senior Adviser at the Khazanah Research Institute. He was a member of the Economic Action Council, chaired by the seventh Malaysian Prime Minister (2018-20), and the 5-member Council of Eminent Persons appointed by him, Professor at the University of Malaya (1986-2004), Founder-Chair of International Development Economics Associates (IDEAs, www.networkideas.org) , UN Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development (2005-2012), Research Coordinator for the G24 Intergovernmental Group on International Monetary Affairs and Development (2006-2012), and Assistant Director General for Economic and Social Development, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (2012-2015). He received the 2007 Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought.

Blair Feltmate, INTACT Centre on Climate Adaptation, University of Waterloo

Dr. Blair Feltmate: Blair is the Head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, University of Waterloo. Previous positions he has held include Vice President, Sustainable Development, Bank of Montreal; Director, Sustainable Development, Ontario Power Generation; Partner, Sustainable Investment Group/YMG Capital Management.  Blair has written textbooks on Sustainable Banking and Aquatic Ecology.

He is on the Advisory Table, National Adaptation Strategy, Canada.  He is Sustainable Finance Council member, Global Risk Institute, and he is a member of Climate Proof Canada (Insurance Bureau of Canada).  Blair is Expert Member, International ISO Strategic Advisory Group, ESG.  He is Chair, Adaptation Council, Canadian Institute for Climate Choices (Environment and Climate Change Canada). He is on the Climate Advisory Board, Minister of Environment (Ontario). He was Chair, Federal Government of Canada Expert Panel on Climate Adaptation.

Blair was an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Waterloo.  He holds a Ph.D. in Theoretical and Applied Ecology (University of Toronto), Master’s in Arts (Wilfrid Laurier University), Master’s in Zoology (University of Toronto), and Hon. Bachelor’s Biology (University of Toronto).  He is generally interviewed by the media 100 times per year on climate change/ESG related issues.

Art Hunter,

Developer of a major project demonstrating how an Ottawa home has adapted to not relying on fossil fuels or grid power by using solar power and geothermal energy using private financing, Dr. Art Hunter is a graduate from the Royal Military College (Mechanical), Imperial College (U of London – Aeronautical), and the National Defence College (XXXVIII). He was a member of Telesat Canada’s spacecraft design team for Anik A, Deputy Manager mechanical systems for the Communications Technology Satellite (Hermes) and Project Manager for the Canadarm project at the National Research Council of Canada. Later, as a Project Manager for the Industrial Development Office, he did the design, development, test and evaluation of the electronics network CA*Net (now part of the Internet).  For over 30 years he has worked with about 100 Canadian companies as an Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) Senior Project Manager and as President of Drex Engineering Consultants. 

He wrote an investing book the “Taxation Investment Engine”, has developed energy efficient home construction techniques, and has undertaken the financing and development of the Fossil Energy Freedom Project.  Its Mission Statement is “Retrofit an Ottawa home to live a near autonomous lifestyle”.  

As a member of the Board of Directors, he was awarded the first Canadian Association for the Club of Rome “Exceptional Service Award” on 30 September 2020.

2021 Conference Committee

Susan Tanner, Chair (See bio above); Roy Culpeper, (See bio above); John Stone, (See bio above)

Adam Fenech, (See bio above)

Richard Harmston

Richard has worked in international development for more than 40 years, nearly all of it in civil society organizations. He directed the International Student Movement for the United Nations (Geneva), the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, and South Asia Partnership Canada (the latter two in Ottawa). He has served on numerous boards of directors of other international and Canadian organizations, including as a founding director of the North South Institute, the Group of 78, and UNIFEM Canada. The scope of this service has included emphasis on community development, international relations, peace and security, gender equality, South Asian issues, and strengthening of civil society.

Peter Meincke

Peter Meincke, B.A.Sc. (Queen’s), Ph.D. (physics UofT), D.Sc. (RMC). Vice Provost UofT (1972-76), President UPEI (1978-1985). He taught and did research at RMC, Bell Labs, UofT and UPEI. During the 70’s, he became deeply concerned about the role of technology and developed courses on “Energy, Environment and the Economy” and” Technologies for Sustainable Development”. He continues to write about how small islands can show how to use existing technologies to adapt to climate change and develop sustainably. He has served on many boards and councils and belongs to many NGO’s such as Canadian Pugwash, Science for Peace, CACOR. He was a founding member of the Group of 78.

Gerald J Schmitz

Gerald Schmitz holds a doctorate in political science from Carleton University and has a deep background in international issues. He was a policy analyst with the Parliamentary Information and Research Service from 1981-2011, including as principal analyst for international affairs and as research director for the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade/Development from 1994 to 2008. In 1991-93 he was a program director at the North-South Institute, and in 2003 a special advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The author of numerous publications, in 2013 he was named an “alumnus of influence” by the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Arts and Sciences. Currently a G78 Board member, he is also president of One World Arts which annually puts on the One World Film Festival.