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UVic shows up for COP28

January 09, 2024

For the first time, in 2023 UVic scholars organized a strong virtual participation in a Conference of the Parties.

“This grew out of our commitments to the UN Race to Zero and to reduce the university’s business-travel emissions, both of which came from UVic’s Climate and Sustainability Action Plan,” says Cynthia Milton, associate vice-president of research.

Thirteen representatives of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS), Centre International de Formation des Autorités et Leaders (CIFAL) Victoria and of almost every UVic faculty attended the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai from Nov 30 to Dec 12, 2023–without catching a flight. The online delegation of faculty, students and staff is one step that supports UVic's strategy to reduce carbon emissions while ensuring that the university's academic community can engage, collaborate and network with partners around the world. 

Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger (UVic Law, Centre for Global Studies) and Ian Mauro (UVic Environmental Studies, PICS) hosted hybrid events, training, expert panels and pavilion roundtables. More than 1,700 people attended the Climate Law and Governance Day 2023. Hosted with the universities of Dubai, Middlesex Dubai, and Cambridge, the event included a keynote video address from the eminent Inuk climate action advocate Siila Watt-Cloutier. A special panel in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature pavilion featured a video address by Chief Frank Brown of the Heiltsuk Nation.

Listening to cutting-edge discussions and presentations from world leaders in climate change and biodiversity law provided an invaluable experience for UVic faculty and students from Law, History, Education, Environmental Studies, Engineering, Business, Philosophy, Geography, Gender Studies, English and core members of the UVic-NSERC Coastal Climate Solutions Leaders Training Program.

The experience will affect research and teaching across UVic.

“Having the chance to attend sessions at COP28 was transformative for my research programme and level of engagement with the cultural aspects of climate change,” says Stephen Ross, professor in the department of English. “I learned a huge amount and have a renewed sense of how I can contribute through both my research and my teaching.”

Philosophy professor Thomas Heyd says that he’s particularly hopeful that the organizers of the COP30, which will be held in Brazil in 2025, are already planning to showcase local projects that combine effective mitigation to prevent the increase of climate upheavals, with the necessary adaptation to the already existing consequences.

“While this COP, as their predecessors,” Heyd says, “had some positive outcomes but not as significant as hoped for, the side events, organized by a multitude of organizations, many of them non-governmental, were very encouraging. Among other things they showed that civil society the world over is highly engaged in addressing present and future climatic changes.

“I expect that we all, the students in my new course Philosophy and Climate Change included, will benefit from learning about these efforts aimed at increasing our capacities to face today’s climatic challenges.”

The delegates will get together at UVic in February to discuss the COP28 outcomes. Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions executive director Ian Mauro says that the institution “looks forward to building on this success in future years.” That might include virtual delegations for COP29 in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2024, and COP30 in Belem, Brazil, in 2025. 

Rachel Goldsworthy and Lydia Young



SDG: 13 Climate action

Impact area: Climate, environmental change and sustainability

Aspiration: Research environment; Research community; Commitment to Indigenous scholarship; Global engagement; Societal impact