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Stories | 12.06.23

Inaugural Global Forum for Climate Justice, hosted by Adler University, addresses inequities of climate change

The Global Forum for Climate Justice (GFCJ) convened its inaugural three-day conference in October to address climate risks through the lens of environmental justice. The Forum, held in Vancouver, Canada, and hosted by Adler University, brought together experts, practitioners, policymakers, and advocates from various fields and backgrounds to facilitate a more equitable and sustainable response to climate change.  

A person placing a sticky note on a board as part of a collaborative discussion.

During the Forum, attendees collaborated in small groups to discuss climate justice tools and best practices.

With the understanding that climate change disproportionately affects vulnerable and underserved communities, the GFCJ created a space where traditionally marginalized communities, including youth, Indigenous Peoples, women, and racialized groups, could actively participate in shaping climate justice initiatives. Forum speakers and attendees redefined climate action as a matter of social and environmental justice, aiming to foster a more equitable and sustainable future. 

The event included welcoming remarks from Sxwpilemaát Siyám (Chief Leanne Joe), a Hereditary Chief of the Squamish Nation, and notable keynotes from U.S. Ambassador Mark P. Lagon, and Canadian Senator Rosa Galvez. Each speaker touched on various facets of climate change and highlighted the inequities seen by underserved communities. 

U.S. Ambassador Lagon’s keynote explored the intersection of environmental issues and human dignity. He pointed to climate change’s disproportionate impact on low-income, low-emission nations, and how it exacerbates malnourishment and disease susceptibility. In referencing the ongoing drought affecting the Horn of Africa, he shared that 89 million people have been impacted. In 2022, 16% of environmental disaster-related deaths in the world were in Africa, largely as a result of the drought. Lagon stressed the need for a human dignity framework as it relates to climate change.

A woman with dark hair and glasses stands behind a podium, giving a keynote speech.

Canadian Senator Rosa Galvez concluded the Forum with her keynote, focused on charging attendees to look for opportunities to integrate environmental action into their work and business.

Sen. Galvez, who closed the Forum with her keynote, empowered and encouraged attendees to seek opportunities to integrate environmental actions into all systems and institutions. Climate solutions should not be isolated. They become more effective when integrated into existing systems.

With a focus on collaboration for solutions and collective responsibility for addressing complex challenges posed by climate change, the Forum led to a shared learning of ideas in addressing climate injustice locally and globally.  

Climate justice conversations will continue throughout the year, and the next Global Forum for Climate Justice will take place in Medellin, Colombia, in the spring of 2025. The GFCJ team will work with UniRemington to host next year’s event, continuing the work and discussions fostered in Vancouver. 

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