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Law Reform for Nature, Climate and Communities

West Coast is pleased to host the second in our Dialogues for Legal Innovation series: Law Reform for Nature, Climate and Communities

On February 16th, 2011, audience members heard invited participants explore, from a range of key perspectives, how BC’s laws and policies about land use should evolve in light of climate change.

The reality we face in BC is that many of our resource and land-use management laws were created decades ago, before the phrase “climate change” had even been coined, and long before climate change was recognized as the greatest ecological challenge of our time.

The discussion focused on these broad topics: What are the implications of the legal status quo for nature and communities, in an era of climate change? Looking forward, what vision should we be enabling with our laws and policies?

The evening began with short presentations introducing scientific, legal, and economic perspectives. Dialogue participantsthen explored the following questions:

  • In light of climate change, what challenges and opportunities are presented by our current legal framework for land use and resource management on public and indigenous lands in BC?
  • What are priority issues or considerations that must be taken into account as we evolve our laws and policies around land use and resource management in an era of climate change?
  • What will it take to make viable legal and policy shifts to enable optimal land use choices for nature, climate and communities in BC?

Audience members were given the opportunity to ask questions in a closing question and answer session.

The response to the Dialogue was tremendous! Here is what people had to say about the event:

“It was an excellent event. The speakers were well informed and the format used provided a very engaging dialogue.”

“The subject is very important and there is no other focus like the one you provided last night - keep up the good work!”

“I learned more about the appreciation of tenure reform.”

“I learned more about some of the organizations involved (WCEL, Western Climate Initiative). I also learned about the commonality amongst diverse perspectives. Alot is changing in how we think!”

Moderator: Jessica Clogg, Executive Director and Senior Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law

On Twitter? Read the live-tweets from the event and keep the conversation going by searching #dialWCELaw on Twitter.

Dialogue participants:

  • Dr. Bill Bourgeois, RPF, President, New Direction Resource Management Ltd.
  • Dirk Brinkman, CEO, Brinkman Forest Restoration Ltd.
  • Deborah Carlson, Staff Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law
  • Deborah Good, Chief Siidok, Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs
  • Dr. Richard Hebda, Curator, Botany and Earth History, Royal BC Museum
  • Ben Parfitt, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Dr. Suzanne W. Simard, RPF, Professor, Department of Forest Sciences, UBC
  • Jessica Verhagen, Director, Business Development, and Lead Negotiator in the Western Climate Initiative, Climate Action Secretariat, Ministry of the Environment, Government of BC
  • Jens Wieting, Forests Campaigner, Sierra Club BC

Click here for a full list of Dialogue participant bios.

Dialogue Resource Materials:
West Coast has produced a legal backgrounder to compliment the dialogue forum: Nature, Climate and Communities in BC: Legal Considerations

About West Coast Environmental Law’s Dialogues for Legal Innovation:
West Coast Environmental Law’s Dialogues for Legal Innovation engages thought-leaders and decision-makers in achieving law reform that protects the environment. The West Coast Dialogues for Legal Innovation Series brings together diverse perspectives to help shape solutions to complex legal and policy issues that affect the well being of British Columbians and our communities.

About West Coast Environmental Law:
West Coast Environmental Law is dedicated to safeguarding the environment through law. Since 1974 our staff lawyers have successfully worked with communities, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and all levels of governments, including First Nations governments, to develop proactive legal solutions to protect and sustain the environment. West Coast uses in-depth legal analysis and research to engage citizens in changing the law, and has helped establish and shape many of BC’s most significant environmental legislative initiatives.

West Coast is grateful to the Catherine Donnelly Foundation, Mountain Equipment Co-op, the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia, the Vancouver Foundation, the Law Foundation of British Columbia, the Bruce and Lis Welch Community Award, as well as the SFU Centre for Dialogue for funding to make this event possible.

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