The City of Vancouver provided a lovely spring backdrop for the 2014 Livable Cities Forum in early April. ICLEI Canada partnered with the City of Vancouver, Simon Fraser University, and ICLEI USA to bring together a North American audience to explore the theme of building resilient communities. Delegates were treated to a variety of insightful plenaries and breakout sessions where they heard from resilience experts. Workshops and local study tours gave delegates hands-on experiences and on-site learning opportunities that demonstrated aspects of Vancouver’s Greenest City 2020 initiative from the perspective of those leading the projects. This also gave delegates the chance to contribute some great images to the Forum’s “3:50 Photo Challenge” where everyone was asked to take a photo of what they were doing at 3:50pm every day and post it to twitter. Check out the highlights here!
Networking opportunities abounded, as delegates had the chance to mingle and exchange knowledge and new ideas during coffee breaks, over delicious lunches, and at the Local Harvest Dinner which boasted spectacular views of the City from the 34th floor of the Hyatt Regency Vancouver.
In addition to the main Forum program, delegates were able to participate in side-events, such as the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee (PIEVC) workshop hosted by Engineers Canada and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (APEGBC), as well as a Climate Change Adaptation Wold Café, hosted by the National Adaptation Working Group (ICLEI Canada, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Engineers Canada, the Canadian Institute of Planners, and the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction). Members of ICLEI’s Building Adaptive & Resilient Communities (BARC) Program also had their annual meeting ahead of the Forum, where they were provided an exclusive sneak-peek of several sessions on the program!
If you weren’t able to attend the Forum (or would like to relive it!) you can view all of the speakers’ presentations here.
The Opening Plenary brought together a diverse set of organizations showing the importance of collaborative action to build livable cities and enhance resilience. The morning was kicked off by Stephen Huddart, President & CEO of the McConnell Family Foundation, who outlined that essential to resilience are livable communities that are inclusive and focus on people. Next Jeb Brugmann, Managing Partner at The Next Practice suggested that the primary challenge of building resilience is to transform climate risk into investment and that simply focusing on adaptation is not enough. Mark Way, Senior Vice President at Swiss Re gave participants a unique perspective from the re-insurance industry highlighting that 70% of weather related losses could be avoided through cost effective adaptation measures. Lastly, Barbara Turley-McIntyre, Senior Director at The Co-operators stressed the need for collaborative action in advance of future significant weather events by presenting findings from Australia which showed that for every $10 spent post-disaster a relatively minor cost of $1 pre-event could have been spent on preparedness actions. The plenary left participants with a wealth of information as they began their day with a variety of content in parallel sessions.
Opening Plenary panel, from left to right: Ewa Jackson, ICLEI Canada; Jayne Engle-Warnick, Cities for People; Jeb Brugmann, The Next Practice; Mark Way, Swiss Re; Barbara Turley-McIntyre, The Co-operators
Moderated by Vancouver Councillor Andrea Reimer, Day Two began with a look at how collaboration on resilience could be built across jurisdictions. Assistant Deputy Minister with the Ontario Growth Secretariat, Larry Clay stressed the need to plan our future cities for growth and the impacts of climate change. Rob Abbott, Executive Director of the BC Climate Action Secretariat had participants looking at the issue ‘outside the box’ by challenging delegates to think about following the game and not the ball, to consider the big picture for action on climate change and realize that collaboration is key. Nick Xenos, Director of the Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Division of Natural Resources Canada, highlighted the large body of work carried out by the CCIAD of Natural Resources Canada and launched the Adaptation Library – a publicly accessible and searchable collection of community based knowledge products on climate change adaptation, with the goal of connecting municipal users with relevant information on adaptation.
Finally, Day Three began with Trevor Murdock (Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium) offering a highlight reel of the IPCC AR5 report, looking at the climate impacts and some of the information graphics presented. This was followed by a plenary panel discussing insurance risks and legal liabilities associated with climate change. Paul Kovacs, Executive Director at the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction outlined that the insurance industry is moving away from a focus on fire and theft to looking at extreme weather and flooding as a result of climate change. Patricia Koval (Partner at Torys LLP) suggested that governments may face future litigation if they fail to demonstrate duty of care with regard to climate change adaptation. The plenary concluded with a discussion by Blair Feltmate (Professor, University of Waterloo) as to whether comparatively more resources should be allocated to adaptation (versus mitigation) to adequately address climate change.
Each of the morning plenaries provided unique perspectives on the issue of building resilient and livable communities; the tone and messages of the plenary sessions gave participants some ‘food for thought’ as they headed into the day’s sessions and study tours. All plenary presentations (along with all other presentations) are available for download from the main Livable Cities Forum website