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Sustainable finance: Canada risks being left behind in low-carbon economy

Global investors are already mobilizing capital to take advantage of investment opportunities in climate-smart infrastructure, emissions-reducing technology and updated electricity grids. (Photo by Zbynek Burival/Unsplash)

Earlier this spring, the most in-depth analysis to date on Canada’s changing climate provided clear evidence that Canada is warming twice as fast as the global average. As we increasingly experience the physical impacts (flooding, extreme weather, forest fires), we will experience the financial impacts as well in the form of both increasing market risks and unprecedented investment opportunities.

For the financial sector, this is a pivotal moment where it can realign its structures to ensure global capital flows toward solutions that will protect Canada’s economy and our prosperity, more broadly. However, Canada’s financial community has yet to fully grasp the numerous challenges and opportunities that climate change presents for us in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

On June 14, an independent panel of experts released recommendations on what Canada’s financial system needs to do to support this transition. The key message: we must empower our financial sector to design a made-in-Canada sustainable finance system so that Canadian firms can compete successfully among their global peers over the long term.

In its simplest definition, sustainable finance means aligning all of our financial systems and services to promote long-term environmental sustainability and economic prosperity. That includes channelling investments toward climate solutions and managing climate-related financial risks.

Canada has the talent, resources and institutional muscle to define sustainable finance for our economy. We need to grow and harness that capacity now, if we want to captain our own ship through one of the most significant global economic transitions in history.

Much to lose, but more to gain

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, a 2C global warming scenario will trigger global financial losses of roughly US$4.2 trillion. With 6C of warming, those losses balloon to $13.8 trillion. That represents about 10 per cent of the global assets currently under management.

Losses at this scale will have wide-reaching implications for investors and the asset-management industry. Everyday people who are depending on investment income for their retirement will find themselves in dire straits. That includes every Canadian counting on the Canada Pension Plan.

On the flip side, there is tremendous value — some $26 trillion worth — to be gained by shifting economies to avoid worst-case climate scenarios. This represents massive and economy-wide investments in climate-smart infrastructure, emissions-reducing technology, updated electricity grids, to name just a few examples. Global investors are already mobilizing capital to take advantage of these opportunities.

The question for Canada is: how do we attract global investment while, at the same time, protecting Canadian assets, investors and firms from risk?

In essence, this is what sustainable finance is about — harnessing our financial systems to help accelerate the activities, decisions and structures that will put Canadian industries and our economy ahead of the curve without ignoring the environment.

[Wind turbines]
Climate change is expected to trigger global financial losses in the trillions, but there are also opportunities for investment. (Photo by Karsten Wuerth/Unspalsh)

We can’t afford to fall behind

Other global players are already acting. The European Commission has spent the past two years mobilizing expertise to build a financial system that supports sustainable growth. It has made significant progress in establishing disclosure rules for climate-related financial risk and creating unified definitions (a taxonomy) on what can be considered environmentally sustainable economic activity.

For example, this includes defining the labels and criteria for green financial products, which will, among other things, significantly shape the direction of the rapidly expanding green bond market.

The problem is these rules and definitions are being pioneered elsewhere and are unlikely to benefit Canada. They may even penalize us, because they are designed for economies significantly different from our own.

For example, there is a current gap, and huge opportunity, to pioneer financial mechanisms and incentives could be created to expedite the sustainable transition of higher-emitting sectors like oil and gas and agriculture.

This requires our leadership.

If we allow others to direct the innovations in sustainable finance, we will find ourselves without the financial tools and structures that Canada’s resource-rich economy needs to determine its own path through a global transition.

The expert panel’s report is our wake-up call. It is time to catch up and get ourselves to the table. Our financial sector — and the broader ecosystem including our accountants, lawyers and actuaries — needs to start answering some big questions.

What does meaningful, responsible and consistent disclosure look like in a Canadian context? How do we create incentives and opportunities to draw in private capital to boost clean tech innovation across our economy and to invest in climate-resilient infrastructure? How do we better assess risk and the value of assets through a climate-smart lens?

We must, and we can, build the knowledge, understanding and capacity of our financial system to rise to these challenges. We can do this by investing in the research, education, professional training and the collaboration necessary to lift our current generation of professionals to the next level, while preparing an emerging generation to lead.

For those of us in the financial sector, this is about the future of our industry. For all Canadians, it’s about the future of our economy and well-being. Let’s get started now.

_________________________________________________________The Conversation

Sean Cleary is BMO Professor of Finance, CFA, ICD.D at Smith School of Business at Queen's University, and Ryan Riordan is Associate Professor and Distinguished Professor of Finance at Smith School of Business at Queen's University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Powerful pollen

Queen’s University researcher P. Andrew Evans has uncovered a new process to deliver antibiotics using pollen to shield them.

Antibiotics are powerful medication that are used to fight infections, but the ongoing and well publicized issues with resistance has made the search for new medicines critical to human health.  

Queen’s University researcher and Canada Research Chair in Organic and Organometallic Chemistry, Dr. P. Andrew Evans (Chemistry), in collaboration with groups from the universities of St. Andrews and Hull, has discovered a new way to deliver light sensitive drugs that could combat the problem of antibiotic resistance.

P. Andrew Evans has discovered wrapping antibiotics in pollen could protect them from light.

Dr. Evans has shown that wrapping a new class of antibiotics, called the marinomycins, in the outer shell of plant pollen can protect these antibiotics from rapid decomposition in the presence of light. Antibiotics are normally handled in light, so it would be impossible to avoid exposure – much like taking 35 millimetre film out of a old fashioned camera on a sunny day.

“Everyone is likely going to get an infection at some point during their life-span and will require an antibiotic,” explains Dr. Evans. “There is an urgent need for new antibiotics to tackle the rising tide of microbial resistance in existing antibiotics. We have taken a powerful and potentially useful new antibiotic that disintegrates in sunlight within seconds and packaged it into a pollen shell, which then protects the antibiotic for hours against UV radiation.”

Different sized pollen spores are produced by different plant species, which can potentially be used to protect and deliver different drugs. Dr. Evans says all the allergens are removed from the pollen first to make space for the binding and protection of the drug molecule.

Pollen has been approved by the Federal Drug Administration for oral consumption, which makes this a very attractive strategy for drug delivery.

“The World Health Organization has recognized antibiotic resistance as a priority,” says Dr. Evans. “We are facing the possibility of a future without effective antibiotics, which would fundamentally change the manner in which modern medicine is practiced.  Additionally, there are other drugs that have been abandoned because of light-sensitivity issues that could be reexamined using this strategy.”

This research is published in Chemical Science, the Royal Society of Chemistry’s peer-reviewed flagship journal. It also appeared as the “Pick of the Week” in the same journal.

Solving crime through chemistry

Queen’s University chemist Diane Beauchemin earns lifetime achievement award for her cutting-edge research.

Queen’s University researcher Diane Beauchemin has spent years working on techniques to help law enforcement solve crime and to more pragmatically assess food safety.

Thanks to her efforts, Dr. Beauchemin has earned the Canadian Society for Chemistry's Clara Benson Award, recognizing a woman scientist who has made a distinguished contribution to chemistry while working in Canada. In 2018, she was the first woman in Canada to receive the Gerhard Herzberg award from the Canadian Society of Analytical Sciences and Spectroscopy and the Maxxam award from the Canadian Society for Chemistry in 2017.

Professor Diane Beauchemin

“I am working in a variety of areas of chemistry and I hope the work I am doing has impact on people’s health and safety and society in general,” says Dr. Beauchemin. “I’m also very focused on my students and how to help them in my lab so that they can contribute the science.”

One of her most unique areas of research is developing new and revolutionary tools to help Canadian law enforcement agencies solve crime.

One promising area of her ongoing research involves analyzing head hair to determine gender and ethnicity. She recently discovered a new method where the root of the hair isn’t needed for proper analysis. This work has caught the attention of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as it provides a new tool to use to solve new crimes and cold cases.

Dr. Beauchemin adds it may also be used to identify the gender of incomplete skeletons, even if only a small piece of head hair is available.

Along with that work, Dr. Beauchemin has developed a process to analyze paint scraping which could offer a new way to identify vehicles involved in hit and runs. And she is also working in her lab to identify solder left at crime scenes following a blast caused by an improvised explosive device. Her tool can determine the solder used and possibly even the type of soldering iron, which will help investigators identify the culprit if the solder and soldering iron indicated by her method match what was found in a suspect’s home. 

Diane Beauchemin demonstrates how she analyzes human hair.

Currently, Dr. Beauchemin is working on risk assessment of food safety. This includes chemicals in staple foods like rice, wheat, couscous, bread, and corn.

“Not only did my group develop a realistic method taking into account the bio-accessibility and the chemical forms of, in particular, arsenic and chromium in food but we are also looking at ways for consumers to protect themselves,” says Dr. Beauchemin. “For example, simply washing rice before cooking it can remove a large fraction of toxic arsenic.”  Her on-going work on how the cooking method may affect the levels of toxic components aims at identifying the safest way to prepare staple foods. 

For more information about the award visit the website.

Home game: Rethinking Canada through Indigenous hockey

Indigenous Hockey Research Network members pause during their 'visioning gathering' earlier this year at Queen's for a pick-up game at the Leon's Centre in Kingston. (Supplied Photo)

“Damn, we got it. We won one in their barn!”

To Cree hockey player Eugene Arcand, these words made little sense. You see, in the 11 years he had skated for two Saskatchewan Indian residential schools — as sweater number 14, residential school number 781 — no settler teams had ever visited the dilapitated outdoor rinks at St. Michael’s residential school in Duck Lake or the Qu'Appelle school in Lebret.

It wasn’t until he was 23, when Arcand became the only Indigenous player in the region’s Intermediate AAA hockey league, that he learned from settler teammates that “home ice” is supposed to be “an advantage.”

We — Mike Auksi (Anishinaabe/Estonian) and Sam McKegney (white settler of Irish/German descent) — are researchers with the Indigenous Hockey Research Network (IHRN). We interviewed Arcand in Kingston, as part of our network’s preliminary work to cultivate critical understandings of hockey’s role in relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Arcand, whose Cree/nēhiýawēwin name is aski kananumohwatah and whose treaty number is 380, knows what it’s like to be denied the right to play in a “home barn” in his traditional territory of Treaty 6. He was a member of the Indian Residential Schools (IRC) Truth and Reconciliation survivor committee and has been honoured for his work in support of Indigenous sport in Saskatchewan and across the country.

As such, he understands hockey as a site of prejudice, but also as a site rife with potential for positive change.

‘We didn’t ever get to socialize’

Regimentation, discipline and control were at the core of residential school design, as a means of conditioning Indigenous children to shed their cultural values. Physical education was well suited to this enterprise, say Indigenous studies scholar Braden Te Hiwi of the University of British Columbia and sport historian and sociologist Janice Forsyth of Western University, also an IHRN researcher.

Exactly how sport curricula was used varied over time and territory, as well as along gender lines, during more than 100 years of residential schooling in Canada.

Where they were present, sports like hockey were built into the institutions’s social engineering regime as what University of Ottawa health researcher Michael Robidoux calls a “disciplining device.”

Yet, the experiences of Indigenous players were not confined by institutional objectives or the goals of individual overseers. Forsyth and historian Evan Habkirk, also of Western University, argue that sports helped many students “make it through residential school” by being a forum in which they could develop “a sense of identity, accomplishment and pride,” even in the context of trauma and abuse.

As Cree residential school survivor Philip Michel explained in a talk he gave at Opaskwayak Cree Nation:

“We were told we were no good in residential school. But in hockey, we were good. We were just as good as anybody. In many cases, we were better.”

Arcand recalled his teammates showcasing their skill against settler teams at tournaments. However, their experiences differed dramatically from those of the non-Indigenous kids:

“We’d put all our equipment on at the school and get on the bus and we’d go to whatever town… and we’d play sometimes three games in one day. After each game, we’d get back on the bus… We didn’t ever get to socialize against our opponents.”

Years later, Arcand asked a former supervisor from the residential school, “‘Why would you make us wear our equipment all day like that? Other kids got to undress. Other kids got to run around the rink. And we didn’t. We had to wear our same stinky equipment all day long.’” The supervisor replied, “‘So you wouldn’t run away.’”

Project to assimilate

In an 1887 memorandum to cabinet, John A. Macdonald, prime minister and minister of Indian Affairs, identified the “great aim” of the Indian Act legislation as being to “assimilate the Indian people in all respects with the other inhabitants of the Dominion.”

Contradictions, however, persisted at the heart of this legislation. When residential schools were at their peak, policies like The Pass System on the Prairies actively prevented Indigenous people from integrating into settler society. While residential schooling was ostensibly about absorption, contemporary policies enacted barriers to inclusion by restricting mobility.

In Arcand’s team’s segregation from the settler teams, we see a similar contradiction at play. Residential schools were intended to condition Indigenous youth to self-identify not as Indigenous but as Canadian — with hockey functioning as a marker of such identification.

Yet the Indigenous players at the tournament were treated as second-class citizens, forbidden from fraternizing with the other players.

The government’s political goal of eliminating Indigenous rights and identities was never accompanied by a similar commitment toward eliminating settler perceptions of Indigenous inferiority.

Assimilation, in Canada, has never meant equality.

Calls to action in sport

Another factor complicating Indigenous experiences of hockey is the way the sport is romanticized in this country.

The IHRN’s early research suggests that hockey is linked to the naturalization of settler entitlement. Hockey belongs to Canadians because it belongs in the Canadian landscape, so the story goes. Thus, participation in the game allows settlers to imagine they belong here too — with adverse implications for Indigenous people.

Arcand remembers the ferocious nature of anti-Indigenous racism in Saskatchewan hockey in the 1970s. So much so, he shares, that when his team’s trainers packed up the sticks after a road game, they’d leave his out for safety.

“I had to use my stick to defend myself in those arenas.”

Anti-Indigenous racism persists in Canadian hockey today. In the past year, the First Nation Elites Bantam AAA team faced taunts of “savages” from spectators, players and coaches at the Coupe Challenge tournament in Québec. Five First Nations teams from Manitoba found themselves without a league to play in when the non-Indigenous teams against which they used to play formed a new league from which they were excluded.

Yet teams, coaches, players and fans are not without the artillery to make positive change. The Final Report of the TRC provides guidance via Calls to Action 87 to 90 on Sport and Reconciliation.

The report calls for government-sponsored athlete development, culturally relevant programming for coaches, trainers and officials, as well as anti-racism awareness training.

Arcand has worked much of his life to eliminate barriers to participation in sport for Indigenous, racialized and economically challenged athletes. To truly foster inclusion, he says, hockey associations need to confront racism and settler entitlement through disciplinary actions with sufficient teeth to create conditions of safety.

“Why are the people in power,” he asks, “not stepping up to properly enforce excluding these people who deserve to be excluded from the sport?”

‘We still need the game’

Between 1975 and 1981, long before Colin Kaepernick’s and other football players’ celebrated acts of protest, Arcand refused to stand for the Canadian national anthem. When told to do so during a playoff game, he responded, “‘Coach, you want me to stand up? I’m going to get up and you’ll never see me again. Your choice. Make it right now.’” The coach never bothered him again.

Years later, when the horrors of residential school were coming to light through the TRC, one of Arcand’s settler teammates from those days embraced him at the International Ice Hockey Federation World U20 Hockey Tournament in Saskatchewan. He told Arcand, “Now we understand.”

Arcand, a target of brutal assimilation policies and racist violence, says:

“Sports saved my life, hockey saved my life.”

Provided Canadians reckon with hockey’s relationship to settler colonialism and racism, Arcand insists, “We still need the game.”The Conversation

____________________________________________________________________

Sam McKegney is an associate professor of English Language and Literature at Queen's University, and Michael Auksi is an Indigenous research officer at University of Toronto

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Robots converge on campus

Top minds meet at Queen’s to discuss sector’s emerging research and technology.

  • NSERC Canadian Robot Network Conference
    The Aqua Autonomous Amphibious robot from Dr. Gregory Dudek's research group at McGill University emerges from Lake Ontario. (University Communications)
  • NSERC Canadian Robot Network Conference
    Members of the Ingenuity Labs team at Queen's University display their robots outside Mitchell Hall on Tuesday, June 4. (University Communications)
  • NSERC Canadian Robot Network Conference
    A drone hovers over a field as part of a demonstration during the NSERC Canadian Robot Network Conference. (University Communications)
  • NSERC Canadian Robot Network Conference
    A conference participant manipulates the robot arms he helped develop to show their versatility as part of the the NSERC Canadian Robot Network Conference. (University Communications)

Queen’s University was a hotbed of innovation during the five-day NSERC Canadian Robotics Network (CRN) annual meeting, during which graduate students, researchers, and industry stakeholders met to discuss the sector’s emerging trends and technology. On Tuesday, June 4, the public had the opportunity for a closer look at some of the many land, water, and aerial robots developed by teams across the country.

The conference, hosted by Queen’s University’s newly launched Ingenuity Labs, welcomed representatives from eight institutions, nine industry partners, and three government partners – totaling more than100 participants.

“This is an important event to showcase some of the exciting research being conducted by CRN members,” says Joshua Marshall, Interim Director of Ingenuity Labs. “Over the last five years, the increasing quality and profile of our work has been attracting the country’s brightest, young students. We are striving to grow Canada’s reputation as a world leader in robotics.”

The conference gives researchers and graduate students opportunities for deeper collaboration, and a chance for teams to demonstrate and test their work together with many of Canada’s leading robotics experts.

For more information on the NSERC Canadian Robotics Network, visit the website.

Setting the stage for the artistic repatriation of Indigenous music

Queen’s scholar leads first successful effort to replace misappropriated song from copyrighted opera.

Dylan Robinson, Queen's Professor and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts
Dylan Robinson, Queen's Professor and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts.

In what may be a classical music first, the Canadian Opera Company (COC) and the National Arts Centre (NAC) are co-commissioning new music to replace part of a copyrighted musical work – the opera Louis Riel – to redress the misappropriation of a Nisga’a First Nations song. The decision follows a consultation process led by Queen’s University researcher Dylan Robinson that brought together Indigenous artists and community members, family and friends of the composer and librettist, and performers and artistic leadership of the NAC and COC, to discuss the song’s misuse, and how reparations should be made.

“I’m grateful for the COC and NAC’s work to support Nisg̱a’a Lisims Council of Elders’ request to remove the song from Louis Riel, and to commission Métis composer Ian Cusson to re-write this section of the opera,” says Dr. Robinson, a scholar of Stó:lō descent who holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts. “This sets an important precedent for many other appropriated Indigenous songs that remain in contemporary compositions and arrangements.”

In 1967, when composer Harry Somers wrote Louis Riel, he decided to use his previously written composition, “Kuyas”, to open the third act of the opera. Kuyas is based on a Nisga’a song—a lim’ooy̓, or funeral dirge—recorded and transcribed by Marius Barbeau and Ernest MacMillan in 1927. The song is one of hundreds of First Nations songs collected by ethnographers during the early 20th century. The majority of these songs were collected during the Indian Act’s potlatch ban from 1885-1951, where First Nations on the northwest coast were prohibited from gathering to practice their cultural traditions.

Indigenous History Month
June is Indigenous History Month in Canada.
In recognition of this the Gazette is highlighting a number of articles throughout the month.
To learn more about Indigenous Supports at Queen’s University, visit the Inclusive Queen’s webpage.
Information is also available at the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre website.

As a recent repatriation policy by the Royal BC Museum outlines, much of the material and intangible cultural heritage (including songs) were collected under duress. Indigenous people allowed ethnographers to record their songs during the time of the potlatch ban with the understanding that doing so would keep them safe for future generations of Indigenous people. Many of those who shared were unaware that the songs might be used in future compositions without their consent, and in contravention of Indigenous law.

“To sing this lament in other contexts, and without the appropriate rights to do so, goes against Nisga’a law,” says Dr. Robinson. “More broadly, Indigenous songs are often forms of law, medicine, teachings, personal family history, and are considered to have life themselves. This means that their mis-use is not only appropriation; for Indigenous peoples, hearing this most cherished aspect of our culture ‘broken apart’ can be a traumatic experience.”

Cusson, who is currently composer in residence with the COC, says he intends to create music to replace the Nisga’a song that will be faithful to the original intentions of the opera’s creators, Somers and librettist Mavor Moore.

“I am so thankful to be a part of this important and historic work of seeing this song return to the Nisg̱a’a people,” he says. “That the COC and NAC, two of Canada’s largest arts organizations, are partnering with the Moore and Somers families to enable this important act of musical redress, points to their leadership in the furthering of relations with Canada’s Indigenous peoples.”

The completed new work will be debuted by the National Arts Centre Orchestra at a concert celebrating the work of some of Canada’s leading Indigenous composers, on September 19, 2019 in Ottawa.

“This process serves as a great example of how Indigenous-led work with institutions can lead to substantive change,” says Dr. Robinson, “especially as we increase our efforts to repatriate songs back to our communities, and to foster resurgence through new Indigenous artwork. People are often surprised to learn that most Indigenous songs used in classical music were used without permission of those families and individuals who hold the exclusive rights to sing them. Many of our songs remain trapped within classical music pieces, and so much work remains to be done.”

Sending surplus food to charity is not the way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Giving food that would otherwise go to landfill to hungry people does little to ensure the well-being of Canadians who are food insecure. (Photo by Chuttersnap/Unsplash)

With the recent news that Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is calling for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Reducing food loss and waste is one important action we can take. When food waste is sent to landfill, it decomposes to methane, which is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. In addition, food waste represents a tremendous loss of the energy, land, water and labour used to produce the food.

And we waste a lot of food. An incredible 58 per cent of all food produced in Canada is either lost or wasted. This is an enormous amount of food, worth almost $50 billion, according to a report by the Toronto-based food charity, Second Harvest.

The first proposed strategy, laid out by ECCC in a draft document circulated in early spring 2019 to academics and others with interests and expertise in addressing food loss and waste, is the most obvious: to reduce the amount of food that is wasted, most of which originates in food processing, production and manufacturing.

The second proposed strategy is to enhance the donation of surplus food to feed hungry people. This strategy appears to be a simple “no-brainer,” as demonstrated by the more than 233,000 Canadians who signed a Change.org petition to end food waste. The comments on the petition website show that many Canadians believe it to be morally wrong to waste edible food, especially when some Canadians are hungry.

However, while giving food that would otherwise go to landfill to hungry people may be a convenient part of a solution to reduce greenhouse gases, it will do little to ensure the well-being of the four million Canadians who are food insecure.

Reducing food waste by feeding hungry Canadians is a simplistic solution that is deeply problematic and morally distressing. It provides the comforting illusion of a solution to hunger while the underlying problem — poverty — is not addressed.

Food insecurity

Food insecurity — the inadequate or uncertain access to food because of financial constraints — is a symptom and result of poverty. It is a public health crisis, with profound consequences for individual health and for health-care costs. It cannot be solved by food charity.

Only one in five hungry Canadians use food banks. And even when they do, they remain food insecure. When food banks and soup kitchens distribute edible food that would otherwise go to landfill, it means that some hungry Canadians are less hungry than they would otherwise be. But food charity is not a solution to the problem of food insecurity.

Nobel Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu has recounted the profound poverty affecting black South Africans when he was a boy. He explained that the free school meals provided to white — but not Black — school children were often thrown in the garbage in favour of homemade packed lunches.

Watching another Black boy rummaging in the garbage to find the food that white children had rejected was indelibly marked in his memory of childhood. “It was perfectly edible food. But I knew it was wrong,” he said. For Archbishop Tutu, the idea that some people have to eat the cast-off food that others do not want is a powerful symbol of profound, systemic injustice.

I expect he would be shocked that the government of one of the richest countries in the world, with an international reputation as a just society, would consider endorsing such a proposal.

Most food waste in Canada comes from the food industry. (Photo by Jonathan Borba/Unsplash

The right to an adequate standard of living

While Canada has committed to the Sustainable Development Goal of halving per capita food waste globally by 2030 and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 232 million tonnes by 2030, we must remember that we have other international obligations too.

In 2012, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, expressed concern about the growing gap between Canada’s international human rights commitments and their domestic implementation. He recommended that Canada ensure income security for all citizens at a level sufficient to “enjoy the human right to an adequate standard of living,” which includes the right to food.

There is no reason why we cannot achieve our goals of reducing food waste and greenhouse gas emissions while also assuring all Canadians the income they need for an adequate standard of living, including the ability to buy their own food. Reducing poverty through effective public policy, such as the poverty reduction strategy introduced by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the ill-fated Ontario Basic Income Pilot project, reduces food insecurity.

In a country as wealthy as ours, it is immoral, unjust and unconscionable that the Government of Canada would endorse a plan that effectively relegates four million Canadians to second-class citizenry by recommending that they eat the garbage that no one else wants.The Conversation

_________________________________________________

Elaine Power is an associate professor in Health Studies at Queen's University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Recognizing research excellence at Queen’s

At this year’s Spring Convocation, Queen’s University is bestowing its highest form of recognition for research excellence to five faculty members. Margaret Moore (Political Studies), Tucker Carrington (Chemistry; Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy), Mark Daymond (Mechanical and Materials Engineering; Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy), Robert Ross (Kinesiology and Health Studies), and Nancy van Deusen (History) are the recipients of the 2019 Prizes for Excellence in Research (PER). Valued at $5,000 each, the PER are awarded to outstanding Queen’s researchers and celebrate major research contributions either completed or recognized in recent years. Recipients are nominated by members of the Queen’s community and represent one of five categories: humanities; social sciences; natural sciences; health sciences; and engineering.

This year’s PER recipients demonstrate the breadth and scope of research excellence across the disciplines at Queen’s. Since the program’s development in 1980, the PER have been Queen’s signature internal research honour and represent an important investment by the university in recognizing its top scholars.

Margaret Moore

Dr. Moore (Political Studies) is the director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy and Diversity, and holds a cross-appointment as a courtesy in philosophy where she teaches in the Master’s in Political and Legal Theory program. Her research focuses on justice, nationalism, and the territorial rights of peoples and states. She is the author of A Political Theory of Territory, which won the Canadian Philosophical Association’s biannual book prize for 2017, and the forthcoming Who Should Own Natural Resources?

Tucker Carrington, Canada Research Chair in Computational Quantum Dynamics

Dr. Carrington (Chemistry; Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy) and his group pioneered the development of iterative methods for computing vibrational and ro-vibrational spectra. These methods are now widely recognized as methods of choice for molecules and reacting systems with more than three atoms. Iterative methods make it possible to study, at a detailed level, systems of real chemical interest. Recently he used these ideas to study CH5+, which has 120 equivalent minima separated by small barriers and is recognized as a bizarre and intriguing molecule. Established approaches for computing and analysing spectra fail completely for CH5+.

Mark Daymond, Canada Research Chair in Mechanics of Materials

Dr. Daymond (Mechanical and Materials Engineering; Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy) is the NSERC/UNENE Industrial Research Chair in Nuclear Materials and the lead investigator of the Reactor Materials Testing Laboratory. His major scientific contributions have provided new insights into the mechanical behavior of, and phase transformations in, metals by the application of advanced neutron, synchrotron X–ray and electron diffraction techniques, coupled with the extensive use of numerical models to analyze and interpret the diffraction data. In addition to advancing the understanding of several life-limiting issues associated with current and future nuclear reactor designs, Dr. Daymond’s research has contributed significantly to the broader fields of materials science and mechanics of materials.

Robert Ross

Dr. Ross (Kinesiology and Health Studies) has had a major impact on the advancement of knowledge about the effectiveness of physical activity interventions for managing chronic, life-style based disease. He is the principal investigator of the Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Research Unit at Queen’s and holds a cross-appointment in the Endocrinology and Metabolism Department of the School of Medicine. Dr. Ross has led the scientific writing of consensus statements from prestigious medical and health organizations recognizing the overwhelming evidence that cardiorespiratory fitness and physical activity should be a vital sign in clinical practice.

Nancy van Deusen

Dr. van Deusen (History) is a historian of colonial Latin America and the Atlantic world who has made outstanding contributions to research in gender history, religious history, and most recently Indigenous history. Her scholarship illuminates the spiritual and material worlds of people whose voices have been left out of the historical record. Her work blends meticulous research and careful, critical reading of her sources with methodological sophistication and innovation. She is the author of four books and is currently working on a SSHRC funded project entitled “The Disappearance of the Past: Native American Slavery and the Making of the Early Modern World.”

For more information about the Prizes for Excellence in Research, see the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) website

Canada’s universities take on new Dimensions

Queen’s commits to the federal government’s Dimensions EDI program, championing equity, diversity, and inclusion across the research ecosystem.

Principal Daniel Woolf and Minister Kirsty Duncan sign the Dimensions EDI charter.
Queen's Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Daniel Woolf, and Minister of Science and Sport, Kirsty Duncan, sign the Dimensions EDI charter.

In conjunction with a $35 million national research funding announcement made at Queen’s last week by Canada’s Minister of Science and Sport, the university has signed on to Dimensions EDI – a pilot program designed to increase equity, diversity, and inclusion in the post-secondary and research sectors.

During a meeting with Minister Kirsty Duncan, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf signed the Dimensions EDI charter, joining 18 other university and college heads in championing its mission.

“Queen’s, along with many institutions across Canada, publicly endorsed the charter when the program was announced last week,” says Principal Woolf, during the announcement event. “Putting pen to paper today is a sign of our commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable future for all researchers in Canada.”

The Dimensions EDI program fulfills a commitment made in the federal government’s 2018 budget, and is based, in part, on a successful UK-based initiative called the Athena SWAN (Scientific Women's Academic Network) program. A series of national consultations, led by Minister Duncan, occurred throughout summer and fall of last year, and informed the Canadian program development. There was extensive participation by Queen’s representatives in the national consultations.

Charter signees commit to adopting the program principles, which aim to foster increased research excellence, innovation, and creativity within the sector and across all disciplines through increased equity, diversity, and inclusion. In doing so, institutions agree to address obstacles faced by, but not limited to, women, Indigenous people, those living with disabilities, members of racialized groups, and members of the LGBTQ2+ communities.

Ultimately, such principles inform policies and practices that improve access to the largest pool of qualified potential participants, enhance the integrity of a program’s application and selection processes, and strengthen research outputs and overall excellence of research.

“I want to thank Principal Woolf and Queen’s for signing on to the Dimensions EDI charter. We want as many people learning and researching at our world-class institutions as possible,” says Minister Duncan. “We strive to insure that everyone has access to equal opportunities, treatment, and recognition, and we see this as a critical step – one that we believe will change research culture for the better.”

Achieving the Dimensions EDI objectives will involve collaboration, transparency, and the sharing of challenges, successes, and practices between charter members.

“Increased equity, diversity, and inclusion are cornerstones of the continued success, excellence, and growth of our university,” says Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion). “In joining the Dimensions EDI program, our multi-pronged efforts to build on these areas will benefit from the added collaborative contributions of our sector partners.”

Learn more about the Government of Canada’s Dimensions EDI program and its guiding principles, and more about the university’s equity, diversity, and inclusivity efforts on the Inclusive Queen’s website.

Funding for new discoveries

Queen’s University researchers earn over $20 million in funding from the NSERC Discovery Grants program.

Minister of Science and Sport Kirsty Duncan has announced $588 million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through the 2019 Discovery Grants programs. More than 100 Queen’s University researchers received funding through the programs, totaling over $20 million to pursue research and innovation. This includes over 66 Discovery Grants totaling over $13.3 million (80 per cent success rate).

Support for Discovery
• The investment announced today includes $426 million in Discovery Grants going to more than 2,295 researchers across the full range of science and engineering disciplines, from biology and chemistry to advanced materials engineering and astrophysics
• $6.2 million in Discovery Launch Supplements will be going to 499 early-career researchers in the first year of their Discovery Grants to help them launch their careers
• $83 million in Scholarship and Fellowships to support nearly 1,700 graduate students and fellows in the early stages of their careers

“The funding announced today demonstrates our strong and enduring commitment to science and researchers,” says Minister Duncan. “Since taking office, our government has worked hard to bring science and research back to their rightful place and this historic investment in the discoveries of tomorrow is just one example of how we are achieving this goal.” 

Along with the Discovery Grants funding, Queen’s researchers received support from a number of other discovery programs including:

  • Two Discovery Accelerator Supplements worth $120,000 each
  • Two Northern Research Supplements with a value of $205,000 over five years
  • Three Subatomic Physics Grants totaling $5,858,000
  • 13 Discovery Launch Supplements worth $12,500 each

Queen’s University also received 20 NSERC post-graduate scholarships for students working in the fields of natural sciences and engineering.

“Support through programs such as Discovery are the cornerstone of research in Canada,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research).  “They allow Queen’s faculty, students, and post-doctoral fellows to pursue long-term research projects that will contribute to ensuring our health, environment, economy and communities thrive.”

For more information on the funding, visit the NSERC website.

Don’t miss out on research funding opportunities, subscribe to the University Research Services Funding Opportunities listserv.

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