Food and Agriculture Institute

Publications

FAI is an interdisciplinary research centre that focuses on issues, challenges, and sustainability solutions related to food and farm systems. FAI conducts research under two major themes: (1) agricultural technology and innovation, and (2) food systems planning and policy. Below are publications authored/co-author by FAI researchers that relate to these themes, as well as other publications that more broadly relate to food, culture, and sustainability.


AGRICULTURAL TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION

 

Newell, R., Newman, L., Dickson, M., Vanderkooi, B., Fernback, T., & White, C. (2021) Hydroponic fodder and greenhouse gas emissions: A potential avenue for climate mitigation strategy and policy development. FACETS, 6(1), 334-357. https://doi.org/10.1139/facets-2020-0066

This research explores the potential hydroponic systems have for contributing to climate mitigation in fodder agriculture. Using British Columbia (BC) and Alberta as case studies, the study compares greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and carbon sequestration potential of hydroponically grown sprouted barley fodder to conventional barley grain fodder. GHG emissions were examined through scenarios that assumed Alberta to be the main barley producer, while exploring different situations of BC and Alberta as consumers, distributed/centralized hydroponic systems, and renewable/nonrenewable energy. Carbon sequestration opportunities were examined through scenarios that explored the land sparing potential of transitioning from conventional to hydroponic barley and shifts from tillage to no-tillage practices. Sensitivity analyses were done to examine how changes in hydroponic seed-to-fodder output and energy consumption affect the systems’ climate mitigation potential. The results indicated that incorporating hydroponic systems into barley production has the potential to reduce GHG emissions, given seed-to-fodder output and energy consumption are maintained at certain levels and the systems are powered by renewable energy. Results also showed that hydroponic farming can provide greater carbon sequestration opportunities than simply shifting to no-tillage farming. The research indicates that hydroponic fodder farming could contribute to climate mitigation objectives if complemented with effective energy and land use policies.

 

 

Newman, L., Newell, R., Mendly-Zambo, Z., & Powell, L. (2021). Bioengineering, telecoupling, and alternative dairy: Agricultural land use futures in the Anthropocene. The Geographical Journal. doi: 10.1111/geoj.12392

The global environmental impact of rising consumption of animal products presents significant challenges to sustainable land use. One alternative to the production of animal products is a set of technologies for culturing meat and dairy alternatives referred to as ‘cellular agriculture’; in the case of dairy, cellular dairy (CD). Optimism around the benefits of these technologies is widespread, and they fit within a larger narrative of land sparing, in which high-yield farming allows the protection of habitats and the return of fallow land to ecological uses. However, questions remain as to whether CD is truly land sparing because although lab dairy could offer significant ecological benefits, these could be countered by increases in agricultural activity in other regions for the production of feedstocks. In addition, considerations around broader impacts to individuals, communities, and the environment are needed to understand whether/how CD aligns or conflicts with local, regional, and global sustainability goals. This paper employs the concept of telecoupling, which refers to socioeconomic and environmental interactions over distances, to examine the potential CD may have for contributing to sustainable food production and consumption. The research uses British Columba, Canada, as a case study, and explores three policy scenarios: (1) incentivizes for the growth of a CD industry, (2) CD incentivization with eco-certification, and (3) CD incentivization with local sourcing of feedstock. The work is exploratory rather than predictive, meaning rather than forecasting outcomes, it stimulates ideas on potential direct and indirect impacts, feedback processes, and social and institutional changes associated with each scenario. The research demonstrates that exploring scenarios through a telecoupling lens can be useful for policy-makers and analysts because it facilitates comprehensive and multi-scalar thinking on the ecological, social, economic, and political factors associated with different policy options.

 

 

Powell, L., Mendly-Zambo, Z., & Newman, L. (in review). Perceptions and acceptance of yeast-derived dairy in British Columbia, Canada. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Yeast derived-dairy (YDD), produced using cellular agriculture technologies, is already available for purchase in the United States, though there has been little study of public understanding of these products. To understand consumer perception and acceptance of YDD and yeast-derived agriculture (YDA), a questionnaire comprising of Likert-scale, multiple-choice, and open-ended questions was disseminated to the food-interested public in the province of British Columbia, Canada. A binary logistic regression model revealed vegans, and those 35 years of age or older negatively predicted having positive feelings towards YDA. Vegans were less likely to try or purchase YDD than non-vegans. Consumers shared concerns regarding the health and safety of YDD with many viewing it as non-vegan and a highly processed product. Although vegans receive a disproportionate amount of media attention with regards to cellular agriculture, this group is unlikely to accept or consume YDA or YDD. Rather, non-vegans and individuals under the age of 35 are more likely to be the target market. Across groups, confusion about YDA processes may be a barrier to adoption.

 

 

Newman, L., Fraser, E., Newell, R., Mendly-Zambo, Z., Green, A. G., & KC, K. B. (in review). Agriculture for the Anthropocene: Navigating competing visions for the future of food. Manuscript submitted for publication.

The future of the food system is often framed as a choice between a ‘conventional’ and an ‘alternative’ system of agriculture. This framing has constrained conversations regarding the creation of a sustainable global food system. By focusing on the problem to be solved, that is, achieving global food security, one can combine the benefits of ‘conventional’ systems such as cheap and plentiful food at scale with those of ‘alternative’ systems such as better nutritional, environmental, and flavour outcomes. Harnessing emerging technologies, such as genomic technologies, advanced materials sciences, and data-driven digital technologies, allows for the creation of a ‘closed-loop’ agriculture approach, involving shorter supply chains, decentralized control of the food system, reduced land use, and better animal ethics and labour conditions.

 


FOOD SYSTEMS PLANNING AND POLICY

Cultivate Connect


Superle, M., & Bridgefoot, G. (2021). Cultivate Connect: Fraser Valley farmer to market supply research. Abbotsford, BC: University of the Fraser Valley.

The Cultivate Connect project arose in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting concerns about regional food security in the Lower Mainland. This research is crucial, as the Fraser Valley is the largest agricultural producer in Canada; thus, the effects of COVID-19 on the local food system are extremely relevant to regional and national food security. This project piloted a survey to collect data from Fraser Valley farmers gauging and assessing critical challenges and gaps in local food system infrastructure with insights as to the impacts of COVID-19 on food resiliency. At the end of 2020, almost four dozen farmers producing food for human consumption in Abbotsford and Chilliwack responded to the Cultivate Connect survey. This report highlights selected findings from the survey with recommendations pertaining to next steps and further research.

 

 

Newell, R., McCarthy, N., Picketts, I., Davis, F., Hovem, G., & Navarrete, S. (2021). Communicating complexity: Interactive model explorers and immersive visualizations as tools for local planning and community engagement. FACETS, 6(1), 287-316. doi: 10.1139/facets-2020-0045

Models that capture relationships between a variety of social, economic, and environmental factors are useful tools for community planning; however, they are often complex and difficult for diverse audiences to understand. This creates challenges for participatory planning and community engagement. Conducted in the community of Squamish (British Columbia, Canada), this study develops and examines tools for communicating outcomes of a community scenario modelling exercise to diverse stakeholders. These tools are (i) a “model explorer” and (ii) realistic, immersive visualizations. The model explorer is an online, HTML5-based tool that can be used to learn about the model, view community scenario maps, and explore potential outcomes of the scenarios. The visualizations are virtual environments that are navigated from the first-person perspective, and they were developed using a combination of ArcGIS, Trimble SketchUp, Adobe Photoshop, and the Unity3D game engine. A local government and community stakeholder focus group and public open house event were held to solicit feedback on the scenarios and tools. Findings of the research suggest that the two types of tools can be used in a complementary fashion, and tool integration can better harness their respective strengths in a manner that comprehensively communicates the implications of different development pathways to diverse community members.

 

 

Newell, R., & Dale, A. (2020). COVID-19 and climate change: An integrated perspective. Cities & Health, 1-5. doi: 10.1080/23748834.2020.1778844

The COVID-19 outbreak has revealed multiple vulnerabilities in community systems. Effectively addressing these vulnerabilities and increasing local resilience requires thinking beyond solely pandemic responses and taking more holistic perspectives that integrate sustainability objectives. Pandemic preparedness and climate action in particular share similarities in terms of needs and approaches for community sustainability. This paper reflects on what the outbreak has illustrated regarding community vulnerability to crises, with a focus on local economy and production, economic diversification, and social connectivity. The paper argues for integrated approaches to community development that increase our capacity to respond to both public health and climate crises.

 

 

Newell, R., & Picketts, I.M. (2020). Spaces, places, and possibilities: A participatory approach for developing and using integrated models for community planning. City and Environment Interactions, 6, 100040. doi: 10.1016/j.cacint.2020.100040

Integrated models can support community planning efforts because they have the ability to elucidate social, economic, and environmental relationships and outcomes associated with different local development plans and strategies. However, deciding what to include in an integrated model presents a significant challenge, as including all aspects of a community and local environment is unfeasible, whereas including too few aspects leads to a non-representative model. This research aimed to address this challenge by employing an iterative, participatory process in an integrated modelling effort. Conducted in Squamish (BC, Canada), the research involved developing a community systems model and scenarios (i.e., different community development patterns), modelling the scenarios, evaluating the model through a community focus group, and refining the model and scenarios based on the feedback. Much of the work developing the initial systems model and scenarios was done a previous research phase, and it involved assembling local government and community stakeholder focus groups to discuss issues and possible futures for Squamish. Analysis of the focus group data informed the design of a community systems model and local development scenarios, which were subsequently applied in an integrated modelling exercise. Modelling primarily used ArcGIS and R, and explored a variety of factors including access to amenities, education, walkability, parks/trails, food and farm systems, public transit, housing affordability, threats to critical habitat, etc. Another local government and community stakeholder focus group was held to solicit feedback on the model and scenarios, which were then refined based on the feedback. The research found the participatory approach to beneficial for creating community planning tools with high relevance to local contexts and needs. The model developed in this work has great potential for supporting community planning because it effectively identifies the co-benefits and trade-offs of different development strategies. It is important to develop these types of community planning tools through iterative processes, where they are refined through multiple stages of feedback by a variety of stakeholders, to better capture the local concerns and realities of a place.

 

 

Schroeder, Z., Dyck, J., Moore, A., & Fehr, G. (2018). Low-tech urban agriculture handbook: A practitioner’s resource. Abbotsford, BC: University of the Fraser Valley.

This handbook aims to support the development of communities by providing ideas and step-by-step instructions for people to create their own systems of food production. The methods and tools presented in this handbook can be adapted to a broad range of geographical contexts and circumstances. It presents a sample of the growing wealth of ideas to establish low-tech urban agriculture solutions, and includes topics on irrigation, composting, creative horticulture methods, and the utilization of vertical space to create local supplies of fresh and nutritious food.

 

 

Newman, L., Powell, L., Nickel, J., Anderson, D., Jovanovic, L., Mendez, E., Mitchell, B., & Kelly-Freiberg, K. (2017). Farm stores in agriburbia: The role of agricultural retail on the rural-urban fringe. Canadian Food Studies, 4(1), 4-23.

This investigation highlights the role of on-farm stores on the rural/urban fringe near Vancouver, Canada. Operators achieve higher economic return by targeting populations interested in local food and in agritourism, including customers from towns in the fringe and from the larger nearby urban center. The farm stores catered to a rural idyll that reflects cultural conceptions of farm life. We suggest the multifunctional landscape of the farm store provides economic and cultural benefits, and should be considered as sustaining agriculture. The study revealed that farm store operators in particular share the rural idyll of urban consumers, though agritourism operators are more consciously including rural elements in their operations.

 

 

Harris, G., Nixon, D., Newman, L., & Mullinix, K. (2016). Delineating the Southwest British Columbia bioregion for food system design and planning: A practical approachJournal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 6(4), 71-86.

In light of climate change, resource depletion and environmental degradation, food system vulnera­bility, and food insecurity, the potential to address issues of food system sustainability on local and regional scales is being increasingly recognized and pursued. Bioregions, generally defined as areas that share similar topography, plant and animal life, and human culture, represent an appropriate and consistently applicable scale and framework for sustainable food system analysis, design, and planning. As such, for a southwest British Columbia (SWBC) bioregion food system design and planning project, our first task was to delineate our bioregion. We report on the process, deliberations, and practical considerations that contributed to the determination of the SWBC bioregion for subsequent study. In addition to a complex biogeographic landscape that includes mountains, a major river system and delta, and a marine ecosystem, SWBC’s multicultural and urban/suburban/rural character is further compounded by its proximity to Vancouver Island, as well as by an international border with the Pacific Northwest United States; all represented important considerations in determining the dimensions of the bioregion. Bioregional-scale food system design and planning brings to the forefront the interdependency between human economy and community and the biophysical landscape with which they interact. In this reflective essay, we share our experience in the hope that it will inform the work of other communities in effectively delineating bioregions for food system design and planning that better align human communities and their economy with their environment. We believe the methodology presented has potential for widespread adaptation.

 

 

Nixon, D., & Newman, L. (2016). The efficacy and politics of farmland preservation through land use regulation: Changes in Southwest British Columbia’s Agricultural Land Reserve. Land Use Policy, 59, 227-240.

British Columbia’s (BC) Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is one of the earliest international examples of legislated agricultural land preservation through land use regulation. This article reports on an analysis of the efficacy of the reserve in southwestern BC, the most densely populated area in the province, since its inception over forty years ago. The results indicate that the ALR has been relatively successful in protecting farmland, though a concerning five-percent of the original reserve has been lost in the study area. A discussion of existing explanations of ALR loss and an alternative explanation are provided. It is argued that competing perspectives on private and collective interests are central to understanding the successes and failures of the ALR reserve system. Some policy recommendations are provided.

 

 

Newman, L., Powell, L., & Wittman, H. (2015). Landscapes of food production in Agriburbia: Farmland protection and local food movements in British Columbia. Journal of Rural Studies, 39, 99-110.

Post World War II suburban growth in Canada and the US has created concern over the long-term availability of farmland to meet food production needs. Subsequent efforts to provide legal protection to agricultural land continue to shape the development of the fringes of nearby urban areas. This paper employs the concept of “agriburbia,” suburban landscapes in which agriculture maintains a significant presence, to investigate the relationship between peri-urban farmland preservation efforts and local food movements. Through a case study analysis of Vancouver, British Columbia's suburb of Richmond, we assess the impact of a strict agricultural land use restriction on urban development. We highlight a dialectic between rural and urban that includes fruitful interactions between large-scale and commercial agriculture, small plot agriculture, and local food movements in both the agriburb and its neighboring city.

 

 

Newman, L., & Nixon, D. (2014). Farming in an Agriburban ecovillage development: An approach to limiting agricultural/residential conflict. SAGE Open, 4(4), 1-10.

A growing desire for local food systems has increased interest in peri-urban farming, leading to the rise of agriburban landscapes, in which a desire to farm or to be near farmland is a contributing factor to development patterns. Interviews and site visits to the Yarrow Ecovillage near Vancouver, Canada, outline an example of a development that allows new farmers access to land in a setting with few tensions between farming and non-farming residents in a zone on the edge of a protected agricultural region. Although there are limitations to replication of this model, we suggest that intentional settlements with an agricultural element on the rural/urban fringe could buffer traditional tensions between farm usage and residential usage, while allowing small-scale farmers a place to farm in areas with prohibitively high land values.

 

 

Powell, L., Lenore, N., & Kurrein, M. (2016). Agriculture’s Connection to Health: A summary of the evidence relevant to British Columbia. Vancouver, B.C.: Provincial Health Services Authority, Population and Public Health Program.

The relationship between agriculture and human health in British Columbia (BC) is complex and multifaceted. The availability of healthy food is an important determinant of health, but only one of many connections between agriculture and health. Agriculture influences food choices and healthy eating patterns, and impacts a variety of social, environmental and economic determinants of health. In other words, agriculture’s relationship to the environment and its role as an economic driver have implications for human health. The purpose of this document is to present the evidence on associations between agriculture and health.

 

 

Newman, L., & Nixon, D. (2014). Farming in an Agriburban ecovillage development: An approach to limiting agricultural/residential conflict. SAGE Open, 4(4), 1-10.

A growing desire for local food systems has increased interest in peri-urban farming, leading to the rise of agriburban landscapes, in which a desire to farm or to be near farmland is a contributing factor to development patterns. Interviews and site visits to the Yarrow Ecovillage near Vancouver, Canada, outline an example of a development that allows new farmers access to land in a setting with few tensions between farming and non-farming residents in a zone on the edge of a protected agricultural region. Although there are limitations to replication of this model, we suggest that intentional settlements with an agricultural element on the rural/urban fringe could buffer traditional tensions between farm usage and residential usage, while allowing small-scale farmers a place to farm in areas with prohibitively high land values.

 

 

O’Riordan, J., Karlsen, E., Sandford, B., Newman, L., Hotte, N., Martens, L., Strand, M., & McNamara, K. (2013). Climate change adaptation and Canada's crops and food. Burnaby, BC: Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT), Simon Fraser University, July 2013.

Canada’s crops and food supplies are subject to climate changes that will affect production conditions across diverse landscapes. These changes range from increased intensity and frequency of climate extreme events such as flooding and drought to complex mixes of longer-term warmer, wetter and drier conditions. A summary of climate change adaptation policies, programs, practices and initiatives provides a sense that Canada is well prepared to anticipate and prepare for climate changes and where necessary to reduce the risks of or to respond to extreme climate events that exceed coping ranges. Yet, following a review of potential climate change specific agriculture and agri-food products, questions arise about what is being done to address these changes and risk. A review of climate change effects on iconic foods - Pacific wild salmon, Western beef, Prairie grains, Eastern ice wine, and Quebec maple syrup - describes how warmer, wetter and dryer conditions provide opportunities for increased production in some food sectors and losses in others, and how climate extreme events take some crop and food supply systems out of production for weeks or a growing season or even years. While providing background on the longer-term picture, the report focuses on climate extreme event impacts on crop production and food supply chains. By looking at past experience and emerging approaches through the lens of complex adaptive systems governance principles and practices, it outlines steps that need to be taken to ensure that that agriculture and the agri-food sector’s combined economic and secure food supply roles are sustainable.

 


FOOD AND CULTURE

 

Newman, L. (2019). Lost Feast: Culinary Extinction and the Future of Food. ECW Press.

When we humans love foods, we love them a lot. In fact, we have often eaten them into extinction, whether it is the megafauna of the Paleolithic world or the passenger pigeon of the last century. This book sets out to look at the history of the foods we have loved to death and what that means for the culinary paths we choose for the future. Whether it is chasing down the luscious butter of local Icelandic cattle or looking at the impacts of modern industrialized agriculture on the range of food varieties we can put in our shopping carts, the book finds insight and humor at every turn.

 

 

Newman, L. (2017). Speaking in Cod Tongues: A Canadian Culinary Journey. University of Regina Press.

What is Canadian cuisine? When we ask ourselves this question, we come up with answers such as maple syrup and pancakes, poutine, or butter tarts and Nanaimo bars — possibly perogies in Alberta and Jigg’s Dinner in Newfoundland. But there has been no consensus on Canadian cuisine. No meal or recipe or ingredient has offered a satisfactory answer to the question of what is Canadian cuisine today because, as asserted in this book, ours is a creole cuisine, assembled through the simmering of history, culture, migration, regionalism, colonialism, and capitalism.

 

 

Newman, L. (2014). Notes from the Nanaimo Bar Trail. Canadian Food Studies/La Revue canadienne des études sur l'alimentation, 1(1), 10-19.

Archival work suggests that the Nanaimo bar is based on a recipe for unbaked chocolate cake published in the Vancouver Sun in 1947 and republished in 1948. The bar itself was likely developed by a member or members of the Nanaimo Hospital Auxiliary, and the first known recipe was published in 1952 in that group’s cookbook. The mystery of the bar’s origins is explored, the bar's place within the tradition of 'dainties' is noted, and its current role within Nanaimo’s efforts at place making is documented.

 

 

Newman, L. (2014). Blackberries: Canadian cuisine and marginal foods. Cuizine: The Journal of Canadian Food Cultures/Cuizine: Revue des cultures culinaires au Canada, 5(1), 2014.

The towns of rural Canada are complicated places, their subtle foodways hidden from the outsider passing by on the highway. My hometown of Roberts Creek now boasts high speed internet and the village cafe makes a decent latte, but it is still a quiet place. In the 1970s when I was growing up it was largely isolated from the outside world, home to an uneasy mix of draft dodgers and loggers, libertarians and commune-dwelling flower children. Although we all gave each other space, the long misty winter seasons when the seasonal work of fishing and tourism slowed were filled with shared provisioning, tangled networks of family and friends sharing things hunted, foraged, or grown. Seafood dominated our foodways, but a key place was reserved for a summer's worth of berries. We fought the local wildlife for strawberries, trapping endless slugs in beer cans. We tended raspberry canes that clung to the thin glacial soil and we drove up mountains to fill ice cream buckets with low-bush blueberries. But by sheer volume, our berry of choice was the blackberry.

 


SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

 

Jost, F. Newell, R., & Dale, A. (2021). CoLabS: A collaborative space for transdisciplinary work in sustainable community development. Heliyon, 7(2), e05997. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2021.e05997

Currently, the need for transdisciplinary approaches and collaboration, to reduce the gap between science and practice, is continuously rising along with the need for sustainable development. An increase in knowledge transfer, meetings and overall communication among researchers and practitioners is a logical consequence of the previous. However, the resulting higher transaction costs, mainly related to transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions (and additional financial costs) involved in face-to-face meetings, are in direct conflict with the urgent need to reduce our carbon footprint. This research explored the development of an online platform, “CoLabS”, specifically designed as a virtual meeting and learning space to support collaboration within and between communities to accelerate sustainable community development efforts. While the move towards online collaboration in virtual environments has steadily increased in the past decade, it has now become essential due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on the feedback provided by focus groups, the collaboratory platform's design and usability as well as the technical aspects and its functionality are discussed in this paper.

 

 

Goudine, A., Newell, R., & Bone, C. (2020). Seeing climate change: A framework for understanding visualizations for climate adaptation. International Journal of Geo-Information, 9(11), 644. doi: 10.3390/ijgi9110644

Climate change has resulted in the need for adaptation tools to provide stakeholders with the ability to respond to a broad range of potential impacts. Geovisualizations serve as powerful engagement tools due to their capacity in communicating complex climate data to various audiences. Studies have also shown a preference towards conveying climate data through geo-visual representations, to quickly present ideas rooted in geographical challenges and solutions. However, a rapid pace of technological advancements has paved the way for an abundance of geovisualization products that have eclipsed the necessary theoretical inquiry and knowledge required to establish effective visualization principles. This study addresses this research gap through a two-step process of (1) conducting a thorough review of the geovisualization for climate change literature, and (2) creating a conceptual framework that classifies existing geovisualization products into themes relating to visualization features, audiences, and the intended outcome or purpose of the visualization medium. The result is the Climate Visualizations for Adaptation Products (CVAP) framework, a tool for researchers and practitioners to use as a decision support system to discern an appropriate type of geovisualization product to implement within a specific use case or audience. Visualizations with more interactivity were favoured among expert user groups, to act as tools for knowledge discovery. This is contrary to the visualizations intended for communicating a known message to a user group, as those products often had a low level of interactivity associated with their use.

 

 

Jost, F., Dale, A., Newell, R., & Robinson, J. (2020). Evaluating development path changes using a novel climate action assessment framework in three municipalities in British Columbia, Canada. Environmental Science and Policy, 114, 410–421. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2020.09.007

To transition to a more sustainable and low-carbon economy, a series of local governments in British Columbia, Canada, are implementing climate action and innovation. This is largely in response to a need for societal changes in current development paths. However, there has been a lack of studies assessing the effectiveness of these actions and whether these municipalities are on track to meet their targets. This paper tests a newly developed assessment framework to evaluate local government actions and to better understand city-wide community development paths in three major cities in British Columbia—Vancouver, Victoria and Surrey. This assessment reveals notable progress in their transitions to sustainable pathways in areas such as agenda setting and strategy, plan formulation and implementation, and these sometimes result in transformative actions. Nonetheless, a gap between these actions and their performance reveals that local governments from this study are failing to properly address the current climate emergency. In particular, the municipalities lack processes for evaluating their progress in changing their current paths. This reduces their capacity to identify best practices to improve the effectiveness of climate actions and also hinders their ability to act on feedback and make adjustments to meet their stated goals and targets.

 

 

Jost, F., Dale, A., Newell, R., & Robinson, J. (2020). Climate action assessment in three small municipalities in British Columbia: Advancements vis-à-vis major neighboring cities. Current Research in Environmental Sustainability, 2, 100010. doi: 10.1016/j.crsust.2020.100010

This paper applied a recently developed Local Government Climate Action Assessment Framework to identify whether small municipalities in British Columbia are on track to meet their climate targets and to better understand the effectiveness of their climate-related actions. The aim of this paper was (1) to further test the assessment framework by evaluating its applicability for smaller municipalities, (2) to evaluate and categorize local progress in three small cities, namely Campbell River, Prince George and Revelstoke, and (3) to contrast these climate actions with actions taken by larger municipalities in BC, using the same assessment framework. This assessment revealed that key external support made available to expand on their Integrated Community Sustainability Plans provided for striking similarities among the three case studies regarding their strategies and plan formulations for which actions were largely transformative or reformative. However, the three small cities were lacking periodic reporting and monitoring of actions and presented shorter timeframes of up to 20-50 years for their planning horizons, all of which negatively impact their prioritization strategies. The main difference between larger and smaller cities was found among actions related to the feedback and evaluation category of the framework, with smaller cities performing more poorly. Greater shift in priorities away from climate change-related actions were evident in smaller local governments, signalling their more vulnerable position regarding changes in leadership in local and provincial administrations. This study highlights the key role that strategic alliances, networks, and external champions as partners play in planning and implementing climate action and in increasing public interest in sustainability. Thus, these should be fostered and promoted to keep building local capacity and effectively accelerate greater change through e.g., strengthening their capacity to implement, monitor and evaluate climate actions.

 

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