Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Providing solutions to promote environmental sustainability and human development

By Amanda Appasamy, 1st year MDP student

I embarked on my journey in the MDP program with a multidisciplinary approach to problem solving. My field placement at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in Winnipeg has offered me an opportunity to work on various projects and has helped me understand the role of an international organization in providing practical solutions to the challenges that are faced in promoting human development and environmental sustainability.

L-R: Anika Terton (Program Officer), Amanda, Cameron Hunter (Program Assistant) & Jo-Ellen Perry (Adaption Lead)

IISD is a non for profit world leading centre for research and innovation. It promotes equity, citizen engagement, undertakes policy analysis, i.e., economic policy and law, freshwater, energy, integrated knowledge, adaption and resilience and provides practical solutions to help governments, institutions and businesses make tangible advancements on environmental, economic and social policies.

L-R: Karla Zubrycki (Project Manager, Water Program), Amanda and Dimple Roy (Director, Water Program)

My first six weeks at IISD have been an excellent learning experience. I had the opportunity to slowly build relationships with the people I am working with, as well as undertake research work, attended conferences and conduct interviews that have helped to enhance my understanding of the different challenges that communities face locally and internationally on multiple levels. Some of the tasks that I have completed and currently working on include:

  • The creation of a user-friendly community-level decision support tool for Ecosystem-based Adaptation in developing countries with Anika Terton, the project officer for the resilience and energy program. This project is a joint collaboration with IISD and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Being involved in this project, allowed me to understand how critical ecosystems and ecosystem services are to livelihoods, especially in reducing climate change vulnerabilities and in improving adaptive capacities.
  • Looking at the co-management of large area planning in Northern Manitoba specifically in the Nelson-Churchill River Basin by Indigenous communities and other existing entities and the use of Indigenous Traditional Knowledge in ecosystem management planning. Watershed ecosystem is crucial to human well-being, animals, and the environment as it provides benefits such as clean water, aquatic habitat, regulating temperatures to cultural and spiritual benefits. I particularly looked at the potential role of the Resource Management Boards in large area planning and had the opportunity to conduct interviews with decision makers at the Indigenous Municipal Relations (IMR). This project has allowed me to better understand trans-jurisdictional challenges, socio-economic issues and challenges faced by Northern communities in trusting the government due to the legacy of colonisation. Nevertheless, IMR is actively working on the path towards reconciliation by building relationships and valuing community leadership.
  • Literature review of climate change and gender in Canada and identifying the level of integration of gender considerations in the National Adaptation Plan of developing countries.
  • Climate change and non-climatic challenges in peri-urban communities in Latin America.

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